More cash, no marketing: A photographer’s end of year business strategy
The end-of-the-year is probably one of my most favorite times for business – because I can make more cash with no marketing.
Do what? Yes, exactly what I said.
I did the work. I wooed the clients. Made loyal customers. Facilitated the relationships. Got the referrals.
But now, I can relatively “sit back” and “cash in” on my work.
Think of it this way – you are training for a race. On race day, it is so much less painful and more confidence building if you have the proper training. You’ve gotten up early on days when you didn’t want to. You’ve nursed the painful twinges in your legs. You’ve poured out sweat and some tears. On race day, it is go time. To put all of that training to work.
You’ve probably seen this play out with your clients at their ordering time. All that work paid off. But what if you could keep going – since you’ve done the training, you’ve done the blood, you’ve done the sweat – and get a bit more out of it?
That is exactly what I focus on for the end of the year. Sure, I’m looking to market for the next, but I need to cash in on the work I’ve already laid out. The holidays give me a perfect time to do this.
It’s an easy 3 step process – let us read on!
#1 The Additional Item Pitch
Reach out to past clients and ask if they want additional items for the holidays or before you archive your images for the year (best if you highlight if they didn’t purchase all their favorites or get that canvas they desperately wanted).
No discounts needed. Incentives okay.
I recommend doing individualized outreaches from your notes with specific information from their session. Avoid doing a generalized email, as it will seem like “marketing” and not “customer service”.
“Hey Sally, I hope you, Timmy, and the family are doing great. I was thinking about you all as I’m closing up books and noticed there were some favorites out of your gallery that you didn’t snag. I’m placing my final orders for 2015 and archiving galleries. Did you want me to throw in an order for that 16×20 of Sue and Sam (Image #Gail34 from the gallery?) into my order? This would also make a great framed print for grandparents. I could get a framed 5×7 or 8×10 in a frame that matches the one you ordered in May.
I’m placing the order Friday, November XX by close of business. Let me know and I can easily invoice you. If you have questions, I’m happy to give you a call.”
It is recommended to actually call your clients (even if you have little kids–arrange a babysitter or do it during nap/bed time!). Emails can work well, too, but may be met with some crickets and are less personal. There is power in the phone call.
Other add-on sales can be Christmas cards – upload a proof to the existing gallery (EVEN IF YOU DO IPS, you should always have a gallery available in case extended family wants to order PLUS it saves your files in another backup mode. I use ShootProof anytime I do a session – commercial or portrait.
Again, focus on a customer service tone versus a marketing/sales tone.
#2 The Cross Over Client Move
Look at your past clients and see if you can cross them over to another niche. For example – I have lots of commercial clients throughout year that I am able to cross over to family sessions in fall- that is the ONLY time I take families.
I don’t typically photograph them as my main course of business as I find a better return and enjoyment elsewhere, but I already have spent the marketing dollars and time building the buyer confidence on these people. It’s EASY to get them in the door for family work.
Another example would be if you’re a senior or newborn photographer – move them into family pics.
Use the marketing dollars and energy you’ve already spent on them – maximize it. Avoid seeking for new clients this close to end of year; marketing takes a good 2-4 months to work on clients. Use this time to get those who already know you to come back to you. It’s especially easy if you’ve been email marketing them at least quarterly.
Real Life Example:
Client comes into the studio for commercial work (headshots and marketing images) in April. Killer custom commercial quote – make my money – we are all happy. I did my follow-up and quality control check on her 2-3 weeks after delivery of product. All was good.
November rolls around, and it is time to “cash in” on the work I’ve already done. Call client. Get her booked with a pre-sold collection. Have session. Process and deliver. Follow-up. Boom!
Bottom line: $5500 order for less than 2 hours of work
Reviewing client file: 5 minutes
Quick phone call follow-up to client to pitch a family session: 15 minutes
Presold : $3000 collection (paid for before session – buyer confidence baby!)
Driving to session: 10 minutes
Shooting: 30 minutes
Driving home from session: 10 minutes
Processing and uploading to gallery: 20 minutes
48-hour phone call follow up: 20 minutes
Follow-up sale with album + 2 canvases: $2500 a la carte items
Total client value: $6500 commercial session + $5500 portrait session = $12,000 client value
The Client Value is actually going to increase because she has 2 pending referrals to me for commercial work with local business owners + 1 referred client that was photographed in July.
Note: This action item is possible with most pricing in existence, but if you want to go into each session with a guaranteed sale rate and optimal client psychology, I recommend you check out the PriceIT ebook + audio files. It’s more than pricing guide; it teaches the psychology to make the sale versus having to bite your nails and hope you make it. It made this process for this example painless and didn’t need an in-person sales session.
#3 The Email List Adventure (from the comfort of your home!)
It is time to reach out to past inquiries and email your list. You can get people in for your last minute sessions of the year by reaching out to past inquiries. I’m not a fan of #3 this late in the game as I personally prefer to be done with all sessions by Thanksgiving and orders by first week of December. Then, use remainder of December for family and business planning.
So dust off your past client list and put it to work to earn that extra little bit at the end of the year.