The senior portrait industry is extremely competitive. I hear every day how frustrated photographers are with getting more of the right senior clients in their door. They feel like the competition is fierce, and that seniors are happy just having their friends photograph them.
What they are missing is that first and foremost, they must have something of value to offer that their target client wants. Which means figuring out your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – or more simply, the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else.
Once you have that established, it’s time to take a hard look at your marketing. There are 5 key things that are needed in order to bring in the right senior client for your business, even if you only have a small budget for marketing.
The important things (as always) are in the details. So here are some great marketing tips to make sure your phone is ringing all year long with the right type of senior client for your business.
1. Be consistent with your marketing.
One of the biggest mistakes that photographers make in their marketing is not being consistent. I see it all the time – they get this great idea for bringing in more seniors, and they get right out there and start marketing. Maybe they started posting fashion tips for their seniors on Instagram – they did this regularly for a while but then it wasn’t doing what they hoped, so they dropped off the face of the earth for a while. Or worse – they got super busy with senior clients and just ‘didn’t have time.’ Either way, they slow down and eventually stop altogether.
But what usually happens? They look up and see that there are no sessions on the books, and they panic. ‘Oh my goodness how am I going to get more seniors to book?! I have bills to pay!’ This usually results in what I call ‘reactionary marketing’ – trying everything you can think of – fast – to get as many clients in the door as you can. But your seniors are no longer listening. They’ve either gone somewhere else, or they’ve moved on. So now you have to spend even more time and energy just to get back in front of them.
Instead of repeating this cycle over and over, take the time now to plan out your marketing for the year in advance. It may seem overwhelming, or perhaps you think you don’t have time. But if you don’t stop to take time away from working in your business to work on your business, soon you won’t have a business left at all. Planning helps you be consistent year round in your marketing, which will help ensure that you are the only one your ideal senior is thinking of when it comes time to book their senior portraits.
2. Build relationships first.
Marketing is not about repeatedly pushing your products and services onto your market over and over again. Marketing is about establishing and building genuine trust and relationships with your target audience. If you don’t take the time to do this, you will scare them off before they ever get the chance to be your client.
Date them before you ask them to marry you. They need the chance to get to know you first.
So if your marketing is centered around constantly telling your audience that it’s time to book their session, or if it is repeatedly offering them discounts, then it’s time to take a step back and start over. Create a connection with your target market – show genuine interest in what they do, what they like, and who they are. And share a bit of yourself with them as well – the part that is relevant to what they value. And don’t forget humor – a little humor goes a long way!
3. Make sure your target seniors can find you.
I see that look of confusion on your face right now, but let me ask you a question. If I were to go to your website, your Facebook page, or even your twitter account, would I be able to find you?
Every month I see hundreds of websites and social platforms of photographers. And no matter where I look or how hard I try and stalk them, I cannot figure out where they are located. For some, I simply cannot find their address, but for others I cannot even find in what city or state they are located. It’s unreal.
And I’ve heard all the excuses, “but I have a contact form on my website – they can contact me that way!” But honestly, why in the world would someone contact you if they had no idea where your business was located? You could be in the same town, or 15 states away, but unless I know I am not going to reach out to you.
If your target senior can’t tell where your business is, then why would they take the time to inquire about a session with you?
Be sure that your city, state, phone number and email address are easily accessible from every page on your website, and in all of the ‘About’ sections on your social media platforms, or you could be losing clients every day.
4. Show only your BEST work.
First impressions are everything. If you don’t use that opportunity to stand out to your target client, then you risk losing them.
And when it comes to displaying your work on your website, I have one thing to tell you – if you try to please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one.
Remember your UVP I mentioned earlier? This is the basis for everything you do in your marketing. It is what sets you apart and makes you different. Why seniors should choose you and no one else. If you display images of everyone and everything, then what sets you apart?
For example, I am known for studio portraits. I love using both natural and creative lighting and focusing on fashion with my clients. And while I’m also quite good at creating outdoor/on location images (and have a pretty distinct look in my market), these images are not what draws my target client. They can see hundreds of outdoor images every day online. So I rarely display on location images in my marketing unless there is a specific reason that goes along with my brand image.
Sure, I photograph a variety of images for my seniors, but I only show off my best work. I want to make sure that I stand out to my target client and truly set myself apart. This helps ensure that I am bringing in the right senior clients all year long who value what I do.
5. Build a successful senior model program.
I hear it all the time from photographers – so many feel that model programs don’t work anymore. That their models don’t do anything for them.
But here’s the thing. Not only do they work, but I bring in over $20,000 each spring just from new model signups. Each and every year. And my model program just keeps getting bigger – bringing me more money and more of the right seniors year after year.
But my model program isn’t your ‘typical senior model program.’ It’s very different, and there are certain details that I must follow each year in order for it to be successful and grow my senior business. So I’d like to invite you to join me on a free call this Wednesday at 12pm CST (10am PST, 1pm EST) to hear all about how my model program has grown my senior business, and how I get my models to work for me year after year and bring me more business than I know what to do with.
Because I want each of you to be successful in your own senior businesses, too!