How to create a successful photography promotion

How to create a successful photography promotion

The word ‘promotion’ instantly conjures up the thought of a discount. Shops constantly run 50% off sales. It’s no wonder that most photographers think they have to cut their prices to create a successful photography promotion.

The difference between a photographer and a shop is that you’re selling your time. Shops can almost always attend to more customers, but photographers can only photograph a finite number of people.

As a photographer you want to be the best you can be. We’re like passionate chefs. We take pride in our work and we want to earn a nice living doing what we love. We don’t want to be the photography equivalent of flipping burgers.

Simply cutting your prices for a promotion is only going to achieve the following:

  • It tells the world that you’re not very busy and you’re getting desperate. Not a great branding exercise!
  • It demonstrates that you’re competing on price and not service. So, you end up attracting the price shoppers
  • You’ll work harder and earn less because you’re selling your time. You’re earning less for each hour you sell.

I’m not suggesting you should never ever discount, but it shouldn’t be your first thought when you’re creating a promotion.

So, how do you create a successful photography promotion?


Add value rather than discount

Rather than devalue your service or appear desperate by reducing your prices a smarter approach is to add value. This can be done in many ways:

  1. Special location sessions for family portraits. For example, I live 90 minutes from the coast, so I don’t normally photograph there. However, a special promotion could be seaside family portraits. I also do bluebell sessions in April May. I don’t have to do any special offer as the bluebells themselves are the attraction. Plus, since bluebells only flower for a month it encourages people to take action.
  2. Add extra products or services to a package. For example, you could offer a free engagement session or Trash the Dress Session for a limited period. Another option is to add print credits. This is where you add £x towards extra prints. So, if a couple would have got an album, they now get an album plus £100’s worth of prints. The cost to you is minimal but the value to the client is high.


Plan ahead

Sadly most promotions tend to be created in a mad panic or desperation. For example, you suddenly realise Christmas is two weeks away and you knock up a flash sale to drum up business. Or, you realise you’ve hardly got any clients booked in for the next few weeks so you slash prices in desperation.

Promotions are far more effective if they’re thought out and planned out. At the start of the year I like to plan what promotions I want to do throughout the year. Mother’s Day, Christmas, summer holidays, bluebell season, Autumn leaves, family portrait month (there’s no such thing, but that shouldn’t stop you!)….

When you know what you want to do when you can start to get everything prepared, printed and written ahead of time.

Think about the various ways you’d like to market each promotion. Facebook, email newsletters, postal mailings, Pay per click adverts on Facebook, exhibits, alliances with other business owners…etc. It’s always more effectively to promote something in several ways at once and repeatedly. One Facebook post won’t work. An effective promotion could be a mixture of all the following:

  • 5 or 10 Facebook posts spaced out over a month
  • Facebook pay per click adverts
  • 2 email newsletters to your database
  • A postal mailing to your database
  • A banner on your homepage
  • A supporting voucher promotion with one of your business alliances. For example, a florist would be happy to give out your promotional vouchers for a family portrait session in a bluebell wood if you offered their clients a free session and free print. This tactic works wonderfully for me with a whole range of businesses in my area.

Now you know what you want to do, when you want to do it and how you want to promote it. now you need to get the specifics sorted on how to actually explain the promotion and make it sound enticing…


How to make your promotions sound enticing

A great promotion idea can still fail if you don’t make it sound enticing or special.

We’ve already talked about the importance of adding value (rather than reducing prices).

However, there are other things your promotion needs to attract encourage people to take action.

  • Why should they pick you? Aside from the special offer / promotion there should be other reasons why someone should pick you. The free ebook you can download from this page offers some great ideas on how you can differentiate your portrait and wedding photography services.
  • Add Scarcity. If people feel your offer is going to be around forever they won’t be inspired to take action straight away. One great way of encouraging people to jump at your offer is to limit the number of people who can have it. For example you could say “Since my diary is already rather full I can only limit this offer to the first 10 callers”. A deadline is another way to add scarcity, but limiting the number of people is even more effective.
  • Have a great headline. For example “How anyone can look stunning on their wedding day”, or “The only wedding photographer in Peterborough who guarantees you’ll love your photographs and the service you receive, or your money back”. Do you see how we’re intriguing the reader and encouraging them to keep reading. Writing like this is an art form and something we help our Get Pro Photo Club members with.
  • Keep it clear and simple. There’s nothing that’s going to fail quicker than a promotion that’s complicated or requires effort on the part of the client. Keep it simple. However, don’t take that to mean that you shouldn’t go into great detail and describe your service thoroughly.
  • Explain why you’re doing it. I mentioned earlier that when people see a price promotion they subconsciously think the business is struggling. If you give a positive reason why you’re doing the promotion it makes you look like a more attractive proposition. For example, you could do a promotion where some of the proceeds goes to charity. I mentioned the bluebell promotion where bluebells only last a month which means you have to limit the number of applicants. ‘Family portrait month’ is another reason. Seasonal holidays like Mother’s day and Christmas are others. Perhaps your framing supplier is having a sale and you want to pass on the savings. This is one time you can feel comfortable doing a price promotion as it doesn’t make you look desperate.

Now you know how to create a successful photography promotion it’s time to take action. Start right now. Autumn and the Christmas season is just around the corner so start planning. Need some help? That’s what Get Pro Photo Club is all about. We’ll critique and advise, every step of the way.