Essential Client Communication

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Where does the time go? It seems like summer just started and here we are shopping the back-to-school sales – or, if you live where I do, the children are already back in class. The disappearing time is related to the phenomena known as “The law of diminishing returns”. It’s like the gas gauge on your car. It stays on full forever, but as soon as it drifts into half-full territory – it is on empty almost immediately! One of the best times for selling portraits and additional products, such as albums, is fast approaching. Yes, I am talking about Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays.

I know you think I am crazy bringing this up – but see if this makes any sense – It’s almost Labor Day. Then we have football season and before we know it, Halloween. Then Thanksgiving is right around the corner with Christmas and New Years right behind! Phew! I am exhausted just thinking about it. But that does not mean that we should sit back and do nothing, just hoping our clients contact us. No – NOW is the time to act.

The first step is to decide what products you want to offer. Prints, albums, holiday cards and even holiday ornaments. (Not to change the subject – but last year I sent my best wedding clients a Christmas ornament as a gift to have as a memento of their first holiday together as a couple).

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The next step is to develop a marketing plan. How are you going to let your current and past clients know about your promotion? I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s all about communication. And the time to start is now. Get in your clients heads by sending them an email making an offer for the holidays. Maybe you could even inject a little humor in it, since it is so early in the year.

Office desk table with computer, supplies, coffee cup and flower

Choose a cut-off date for your promotion. Maybe something like all orders have to be placed before November 15th. Including a little scarcity in your communication will help create a sense of urgency and help your clients take action. Depending on the type of photography you do – you may want to put this on your website and/or Facebook page. Maybe even run a Facebook advertising campaign. You definitely want to email this promotion multiple times to your clients. As you get closer to the cut-off date it is extremely important to communicate this fact. “Act now – time is running out” is a call-to-action that clients need to see. I see this a lot with 48-hour sales – a few hours before the end, I always get a “time is running out” email. Even though I know what they are doing, more times than not, I end up checking out the offer.

Sending out your emails can be done manually, but I would suggest automating the process. You could use Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to send multiple campaign emails. If you use a studio management system such as 17 Hats you could create a “Holiday Marketing” workflow to automatically send custom emails on a scheduled basis.

Another company, Collages, an online proofing site, offers an automated re-launch program. When you use their Image Galleries, they automatically relaunch all expired galleries in November and December and again in May and June. Three emails are sent to anyone who has visited your gallery. One to announce the re-launch, one at the midpoint and a final “last chance” email a week before the Image Gallery re-launch ends. Each year this proven program has collectively generated over $1 million dollars in extra sales for photographers using Collages Image Galleries – without the photographer doing anything extra! I’ve noticed a lot of innovation coming from Collages lately. Keep an eye on them.

Why not make the decision right now to have your best holiday sales ever. Don’t procrastinate and start in October. You will just be stressed and not do as good of a job as you would if you start right now.

William Innes is a Los Angeles Wedding Photographer living in Valencia California.

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