For Ronnie’s garden cottage studio, seasonal promotions weren’t as effective as they used to be. A long-time client and substantial user of Marathon’s photography marketing products, Ronnie was no novice when it came to marketing. Unfortunately when the 2008 recession hit session numbers began to decline and Ronnie began to worry.
Through the Marketing Advantage Program (MAP), Ronnie had gained access not only to Marathon personnel, but also to industry specialists such as Ann Monteith. Ann’s mission was to help him refocus on financial fundamentals. These changes began to yield even better profits than before the recession.
“I came away knowing that I had to reduce staff, which meant taking over some jobs I didn’t like to do including sales. However, those sales sessions helped to give me a much clearer picture of my clients’ needs and wants.
Stop thinking about money and start thinking about people.
“Ann also made me understand that even in a recession there are still plenty of people who have disposable income. She asked me if I could bring in 300 clients a year who would be willing to spend $1,200 on portraits. That question forced me to stop thinking about money and start thinking about people. I began to picture my ideal clients and ask myself what it would take to get them in the door. I decided that my photography marketing strategies had to show clients and prospects who value a quality product that we value them just as much. My whole mental outlook changed, and everything began to fall into place.”
One of the most effective strategies that emerged from this new way of thinking was a fresh approach to direct mail. Ronnie explains:
“Instead of doing direct mail to get people in during my slow time — January and February — I started to advertise when I knew people had a need for my photography. For example, this August I sent out a classy fold-out mailer that included a gift card for $125 and a free session to get them thinking about the year-end holidays. Marathon personalized each gift card for each individual client. I had done a similar promotion in January for years and gotten around 10 clients each time. In August, 60 people responded! It made me understand why so many photographers say that direct mail doesn’t work: They are trying to get people in the door when the business wants them rather than when the consumer needs something.”
As Ronnie increasingly refocused his photography marketing on client needs, he found opportunities to use his commercial photography skills. Not wanting to jump back onto the commercial band wagon, he changed his mind after hearing other MAP members’ positive experiences at the MAP Getaway. Doing work for the Chamber of Commerce and a local Development Authority was both profitable and enjoyable. Clients enjoyed working with qualified professional that knew how to do business in their county.
If you are doing what everyone on forums is talking about, you’ll be left behind.
“What I’ve learned is that if you are doing what everyone else is doing and talking about on forums, you’ll be left behind. And whatever your favorite photography marketing strategy is, it’s just one slice of a much bigger photography marketing pie. You have to mix it with every other source so that you hit consumers over and over. You can get them in with Internet coupons, but you have to mail them something upscale to increase their willingness to be upsold. And the hardest part of all is realizing that when you’re busy in the summer photographing high school seniors, you have to be preparing your fall photography marketing strategies and materials to bring other clients in when high school senior season is over.”
Looking back to the troubled times of 2008, Ronnie concludes:
“I would never have believed that we would be where we are today: Our strategically important Christmas season has started with October being up 50% over last year. We are busier than ever with clients who love what we do . . . just as much as we care about them. It’s a great place to be!”