Suddenly Senior Sessions and Sales Were Down.
In 2011 Eric and Shawna Anundi faced a huge business predicament: Over the years, high school senior portraits had become a key aspect of Eric John’s financial success, representing over 50 percent of the studio’s business. Suddenly, senior sessions and sales were down dramatically. Shawna and Eric explains:
“Our senior marketing centered around a rep program that we launched each year with a big rep party. Typically this event would attract 100 seniors. The year before it had been great, but in 2011 only 30 students showed up, and we knew we were in trouble.
“We really didn’t know what hit us. We knew our sales would decline, and all around us well-known photography businesses were closing, and photographers we had never heard of were popping up. It was almost impossible to tell what was driving the market. We were determined to make it work. We have worked too hard to build this photography business to just close the doors.”
Recognizing that part of the solution most probably involved creating better marketing consistency, they figured they would have to hire a full time employee to be in charge of marketing.
At IUSA in 2012, the Anundis visited the Marathon booth to look at photography marketing materials.
“That’s where we learned about the MAP Program, and we decided right there to join. To us it was a no-brainer: We would get great photography marketing materials, and we would receive help from Marathon’s personnel as well. It also meant that we wouldn’t need to hire anyone.”
Together With Their Facilitator They Decided to Tackle Three Main Goals.
Refine Their Brand with Image Building Products
The first issue they approached with their MAP facilitator was refining their brand with a few fundamental image-building products. “We had a design going that involved some specific color choices,” Shawna explains, “and our designer added embellishments and a different tonality of blue that we were very pleased with because it improved the attraction to women, who are a large percentage of our clients.”
Eric says he now recognizes that he really did not know how their brand was looked upon in the community. By being more aggressive in their promotion to high school seniors, Eric was pleased to learn that the Eric John brand now has quite a bit of currency in the community, and apparently the new photography marketing efforts had served to bring renewed focus and urgency to that brand.
Reposition Website Based off of New Designs
Eric and Shawna decided to take advantage of the free website and hosting that is included with their MAP membership. The design and elements that were created for printed pieces were carried over to their new Marathon Website to create brand cohesion. Information pages were reviewed to make sure that it generated enough interest to call and book sessions.
Create a Senior Rep Program
Next, they tackled the high school senior problem by moving from a rep program to a “models search” promotion that would be launched on Facebook. The expectation was that it would create an opportunity for many more students to book a free session early in the year. After reviewing a Marathon video that explained how to work the entire promotion, Eric and Shawna did have some initial concerns.
At first, Eric was hesitant about the promotion because he feared it might attract students who didn’t fit the typical profile of his high school senior clients who appreciated the quality of the photography his studio provides. Much to Eric and Shawna’s delight, the students who responded proved to be just as enthusiastic as those who booked their sessions in response to the studio’s typical photography marketing. A new high school senior photography marketing “magazine” and photography marketing card also helped to generate interest in their high school senior offerings.
“We were expecting to get only 25 students in February, and over 60 responded, which was a great start for our high school senior season.”
“We’ve learned a lot through this process,” Eric concludes. “We’ve always known that the photography business can have its ups and downs, but now I believe we are a lot wiser about knowing how to handle these changes. With the MAP Program behind us, will be a lot quicker to ask for help and a lot more willing to try different directions as our photography business grows and changes.”