Schools Photography – A nexus for marketing

In part three in our four-part series on the business of schools photography, Rachel Proctor, our Schools Specialist, gives you some thoughts on how to use the reach a school has as a rich marketing pool to get parents, families and their friends on to your sales ladder

522763403 webIf you’ve not tackled a school or nursery shoot before, you may think that once you’ve finished the shoot and orders have been handed back to the parents, that’s it. Well, it could be… if you left it that way.

However, we suggest (and have seen it working very successfully), that photographers continue to promote after the school shoot.

Why?
Once the parents have received their order of their son or daughter (or not ordered as the case may be), you could offer them a promotion that suits your business towards another shoot? Promotion through school is FREE and gives you access to many new potential clients – and their friends and family. After all, recommendation is the best form of advertising there is.

What?
Perhaps you have a studio that is perfect for family shoots or newborn photography? Or, you’re a commercial photographer at heart and you want to reach the businesses behind the parents. Pets, lifestyle, weddings, bumps, engagement shoots, absolutely anything goes, you just need to ensure those parents can see your ‘menu’ of options. Never waste a good quality opportunity to market yourself.

Alternatively, some photographers suggest mini family shoots at the school on a weekend or across one or two evenings. This way the school can earn even more commission by selling the mini-sessions. Just be sure to allocate set times for the parents to book and buy, otherwise they simply don’t turn up!

Does the school have a Facebook page, Instagram account or Twitter account? Why not ask, as the official school photographer, if you can market yourself on those sources – perhaps through a reminder to parents to get the school packs back etc.

What about the school’s intranet? Does the school have a website you could be added to? What about some form of fun POS at the school itself, or a picture wall you could manage and turn into a bit of a school project? Kids love learning, especially when it’s fun and a little different. Could you put on a short-run, after school photography club/class that is free? It may well even be something that fits in with the current curriculum and really benefits the school?  But remember, if printing images to give to the kids, always send prints home with your branding on – never waste a quality opportunity to get your branding in front of potential customers.

It’s also handy to have a few products that are available to buy for the parents to view on the evening. They are more likely to spend more when they see the quality of products on offer – people buy what they see.

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When?
We have noted that this type of promotion works best when you approach the school once your original shoot is over, the packs are back with the parents and the school has received their commission. They’re happy with your service and are pleased to promote you to the parents. As with any product, content is king. What we mean here is that your images are top quality, your prints and products are first class.

Ignore tyre kickers
Simply, concentrate your initial efforts on the customers that actually spend money. Cash is the oxygen of any business and without it you die. Spending quality time on ‘tyre kickers’ is pointless – put that quality time into existing spenders and really look after them. Add value, do whatever you can to get them (and keep them) onto your ‘sales ladder’ ensuring that your menu is clear and that you have something for every pocket – you can always up-sell at a later date.

Build data
Last, ensure that you have a way to capture data, email addresses etc., and can build a database of people who have spent money with you; hone that data into categories so you can market to them at the point they are on your sales ladder. You can then market directly to them using e-shots or even personal emails. Data is essentially cash, if used correctly.

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