Editor's note: The November issue of Professional Photographer magazine contains a super special "How To Do Everything Better" section. While you're waiting for that to arrive in the mail, here's one that couldn't wait until November.
The Halloween season is a perfect opportunity to do pure marketing in children and family portraiture. The kids dress up in their Halloween costumes and mom and dad are so proud! Seize the opportunity to market your studio to perhaps hundreds of families in a few days.
• Invite parents to bring in their children the day before Halloween for a “complimentary”—never “free”—portrait.
• Advertise in the newspaper, hand out flyers, put up posters. For the cost of a 4x5-inch print and a few hours, you can launch a successful marketing promotion.
• Don’t even attempt to sell additional prints unless asked. The goal is to give clients a sample of the quality and service your studio offers. Do use this opportunity to promote your holiday portraiture and build your client base.
• Arrange a promotion at a nearby shopping mall. Managers of large malls like hosting promotions that cost them nothing. You can even team with a third party, such as a children’s clothing store.
• Ask the manager for space to put up a portrait display on days your clients come to pick up their prints. You could even suggest they sell portrait sessions themselves at a special rate—you get the client, the store keeps the session proceeds as a finder’s fee.
• Include a certificate good for a family portrait during January in the Halloween print package. We call our promotion the January White Sale.
• Ask community-spirited local radio stations about doing a three-way promotion with their largest advertiser. The advertiser could add a 10-second tag to their usual radio spot to promote your portrait event, and the station could air a few free-standing spots as well. You could set up an on-site portrait studio at the advertiser’s business, which would bring them more traffic. When the prints are ready, customers could come to the site yet again to pick up the prints. Some people can’t make it that day? Then they can pick up the prints at your studio. More traffic for you!
—Bill Keane, “Beat the Fall Seasonal Slowdown: Marketing Children & Family Portraiture”
(First appeared in Professional Photographer, August, 2001)