Graduate photos can be a lucrative business for a professional photographer. Many photographers know this business niche exists, but have trouble finding a way to effectively market their services to high school seniors and their parents. In order to effectively expand your photography business into the graduate picture market, you must be able to create buzz and excitement among high school seniors with your marketing efforts. Let’s discuss a few of the marketing tactics that can help you make the connection with high schools and graduates.
Make Your Potential Customers Work for You
It’s no secret that high school grads have mastered the art of sharing information, so let’s get them talking about you. Marketing experts have shown that one of the most effective marketing strategies is through word of mouth. So what reason can we give high school seniors to talk about you?
Sometimes bribery works, give students a discount or special package for referrals. You can create a referral program that makes sense for your business model, and may include extra prints, digital negatives or additional poses. Waive the sitting fee if a student refers five other seniors who purchase prints. The variety of incentive programs are endless, just make sure you create a program that will increase the bottom line for your photography business.
Get on the Inside
The most effective marketing efforts focus on forming relationships with people in close contact with your target audience. When it comes to marketing senior picture services, groups like yearbook club and the photography club will be able to promote your services the most effectively. Form a relationship with the yearbook editor and create incentives for the yearbook team to promote your business. This may include a special shoot at an event like a dance or sporting event. These types of student groups have a large influence on their peer’s decisions when it comes to photos.
Launch a Social Media Campaign
Social media can be one of the most effective marketing strategies for any small business, including photography. Create a Facebook fan page, Twitter account and MySpace account to promote your senior picture campaign. One way to create hype within your social media network is to sponsor a photo competition. Promote the competition with prizes, like a free senior photo sitting for the winner, and require participants to become your friend. Once you have created your social media network, you will find that there are many ways to network with potential customers and other professionals in the photography industry.
Team Up with Different High Schools
Often administrators will actually make the decision of a photographer for their students. By creating relationships with the administrators of different high schools, you will increase the chances that the school will sponsor or promote your business when it comes to the photography needs of students. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to befriend the principal or office manager of a school. Other times you will need to make a name for yourself on campus by donating time and photography services at a discounted price or even free of charge. This is obviously a marketing method used to build a rapport with schools over a long period of time. However, in schools, relationships carefully built can be fruitful for many years.
Advertise an Apprenticeship
Photography enthusiasts in high school generally form photography classes or clubs. Contact the instructor or advisor of the class or club and ask them to have students apply for an apprenticeship with a professional photographer. Brace yourself because the enthusiastic responses from the students may shock you. Form a working relationship with the apprentice you choose. This person can be an asset to you senior picture marketing campaign, and give you insight into the culture of the school. Allow this apprentice to market your services for you through flyers and business cards and personal interactions with other clubs and events. You can also let your apprentice help you in photographing other seniors, particularly in informal or ‘daily life’ shots. They can take the resulting photos to school to show off and advertise.
These are just a few ways that you can begin to capture the senior picture market with high schools in your area. You will find that schools often talk, and if you devote time and energy to developing solid relationships with you clients; schools will begin to call you, instead of having to market to them!