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June 10, 2020

Marketing tips for school photographers to increase your reach and get more clients

As a school photographer, you’ll likely experience some downtime during the offseason. This is the perfect time to fine-tune your marketing plan and see how you can reach more prospects. 

Remember, you have to appeal to different audiences—schools, parents, and kids—because they can all influence the decision-making process. With this in mind, you need to orchestrate your promotional efforts so you can get the most out of your marketing budget. 

Here are some simple tactics for promoting your school photography business: 

Build Your Network and Leverage Word-of-Mouth Marketing

School photography is a community-based industry. In other words, people tend to hire photographers they know or that were recommended to them by their friends and families.

Build a network and nurture relationships with your clients so that when they think of photography, yours is the first name that comes to mind. Don’t be shy about asking for referrals or testimonials from your previous customers. You could even leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing by setting up a referral program that incentivizes current clients to send others to you.  

You can also share photos with your watermark on social media (e.g., on Facebook groups for parents or using the right hashtags on Instagram) to generate awareness about your brand while building goodwill among prospects. Try joining and posting to Facebook groups for parents. You can also research hashtags and include them on your social media posts to reach a wider audience. 

Use Local Marketing Strategies

Local marketing is not only relatively cheap but also allows you to reach people who are most likely to use your service. It can open up many opportunities that are hidden right under your nose!

Local SEO (search Engine Optimization) tactics can help you capture prospects who use online search engines like Google to find a photographer. You should optimize your website for local search terms, claim your local directory listings (e.g., Google, Yelp, Find a Photographer), and get online reviews on third-party sites. 

Although online marketing is a crucial part of your plan, don’t underestimate the impact that more traditional marketing efforts can have. You can advertise at local events (e.g., community fairs or sports events for kids), join local associations, hand out flyers, and get featured in local publications to raise brand awareness.

Foster Client Relationships and Invest in Client Retention

Fact: It’s cheaper to retain an existing client than to acquire a new one. So, maintain  your relationships with current customers. If you create memorable experiences for them, they’ll return to you for years to come, and your business will grow alongside their children!

Think of ways to make clients think of you even after the shoot itself is over. Consider giving them a small gift, such as a hand-written note or a pocket-size print, as a thank-you gift after a shoot. You can also offer free downloads of selected digital files as a way to build relationships with loyal customers.

Streamline the ordering process with the right software and services so it’s easy to purchase prints from you. The easier it is to place an order, the more likely customers will be to come back for more and tell others about your services.

Invest in Winning School Contracts

It may take a long time to build relationships with schools and win a school photography contract, but it’s worth the effort since it could mean years of steady work. 

First, you need to plan your approach, do your research, and get in touch with the right people. Then, polish your CV to make sure it clearly communicates your expertise as a school photographer. Personalize your bid for each school (e.g., mentioning the specific events you’d cover in your package) and make sure you’re addressing its unique needs. You can consider including additional services, such as providing the “props” for certain shoots.

Once you’ve made contact with a school organization who is interested in hiring you, you’ll likely be asked to go in for one or more meetings with multiple decision-makers. Make sure that you’re well-prepared and project a level of confidence that can help you build instant credibility. Don’t forget to follow up after the meetings to make sure that you’re addressing all your prospects’ questions and concerns. If all goes well, the next step is signing a contract.

After you’ve got the gig, make sure you’re delivering great services, meeting all deadlines, and exceeding expectations to increase client satisfaction and retention rates. 

Final Thoughts

A well-designed marketing plan can help you reach a larger audience, build relationships, get more referrals, and increase client retention rates. This will allow you to increase your visibility as a professional and grow your school photography business.

Check out PPA’s wide range of educational materials for photographers and consumer research reports to help you promote your photography business more effectively.