A+ Marketing Ideas: Ace Ideas for Senior Portrait Promotion in Today's Market

Marketing to the senior portrait market is no cake walk. It demands an adaptive plan that stays abreast of the fickle tastes of teenagers while also appealing to the moms and dads who foot the bills. Check out two promo approaches that have been working for some PPA members.

1) Senior Modeling Campaign
For Eric, Cr.Photog., and Shawna Anundi of Eric John Photography, a senior model promotion has breathed new life into their senior portrait business. Suggested to them by the marketing team at Marathon Press, and based on a program that worked well for PPA members Shane and Sunny Dwyer, the campaign worked like this: Shawna posted Facebook status updates on the studio's page, requesting models for some promotional shoots. She posted the updates around 3:00 p.m. (when kids were leaving school) for six days over the course of two weeks. No cost, no obligation to buy anything; the only requirement was that the models bring a parent with them.

"For two hours after each post, the phone would ring like crazy," says Shawna. "After six days, we had signed up more people than we could handle, so we closed the program."

The modeling shoots usually last 15 to 30 minutes. At the end, the kids' parents receive all the relevant studio info, including pricing and booking details. Kids can come back for a viewing session to see the images in a customized slideshow (and about 90% of the participants did so). "I was hoping for 15 kids, but we ended up with 50," adds Eric. "From that group, we've already booked 33 full senior portrait sessions. And we still have another 10 model sessions to photograph!"

2) Product-Oriented Marketing
Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, of Forester Photography has also had great success appealing to her senior clients with product-oriented marketing. "Teens are huge shoppers; they go to all the major brand stores," she reminds. "And what do those stores do? They constantly change their product lines. By following that model and continually offering new products, I encourage clients to keep coming back."

The idea, says Beth, is to make herself indispensable. By producing interesting products—everything from customized iPhone skins to design books to professionally produced invitations—people want to return again and again. And the word-of-mouth marketing grows dramatically.

Two products that double as great marketing pieces for Beth are custom-designed ads for yearbooks and graduation announcements. A lot of kids in her area buy "ads" in their yearbook to showcase additional images from their portrait shoots. When someone buys a more expensive package, Forester designs a free yearbook ad layout that includes multiple images and basic studio information. It's free advertising to everyone who reads that annual.

And it's the same concept with graduation announcements. Forester designs special announcements that she sells as add-ons to her packages. Then the seniors' families mail them out to everyone they know. "I just ordered 3,000 announcements for my clients last week," Beth says. "That's 3,000 direct mail pieces that people paid me to create and then mailed for me."

Would a variation on one of these ideas work in your business?

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