Have you ever noticed how early your magazine subscriptions come in? Right in the heart of December, right as your baking cookies and wrapping up the gifts, here comes your January editions.
I sat down last night with one of my favorites, Sunset magazine, (it always gives great tips on vacation spots here in the West), and read through a great article giving a 12 month planner on living well in 2010. So of course that spawned the idea of breaking down 2010 for your business, and what you could be doing in each of the coming 12 months to make your photography business a knockout in 2010. I have my list down. And I thought I’d list one here with ideas for photographers as well. Take some from below, and build your own.
Release something new, just for 2010. Update a previous campaign you ran in 2009. Or start something you’ve been dreaming of. Limited edition portraits?
Set up a system to help give you more time in your already busy day. Maybe it’s hiring a bookkeeper. Or an assistant to help you with production work. Or releasing your album design to a professional company. Giving yourself the gift of time now will help you do more in the busy months.
Attend a convention to get the new ideas flowing. We’ll be at WPPI (Weddings and Portrait Photographers International) in Las Vegas from the 4th through the 11th. If that’s not your area of expertise, hop onto Google and find a convention close to you. Many take place in the early months of the year.
Study your pricing. Are you truly making money at what you do? Take a look at how much you would like to make in one year – $50,000. Then look at how much you would like to photograph – 5 clients per week for 50 weeks. That means every client must bring in $200. Once you see the numbers, it’s easy to adjust.
Start a regular marketing program for your customers. The only way to keep them customers is to stay in touch with them, month after month. And the best way to do that is with my Double Your Sales Without Marketing To New Prospects – you’ll be amazed at what it does for your business.
How about a photo safari? How many customers have you heard express frustration over using their digital cameras? Sign up a group for a Saturday safari somewhere in your local area. A trip to the zoo, or a day in the local botanical gardens – and tips on using their digital camera – just in time for summer vacations. (Yes, you can charge. For example, if you charge $100 per person for a 2 hour outing, and get 10 people to sign up, that’s a pretty good Saturday afternoon.) And don’t forget, your building your expertise and your relationship marketing skills along the way.
Come up with another special or something new, just for 2010. If you’re a children’s photographer, how about a special scene just for your existing clients. Are you a travel photographer – how about starting the coffee table book you’re always talking about?
Practice your skills. Whether you attend a hands on class with a mentor, or take a weeklong vacation to practice your photography skills, do something to become a better photographer. Work on one skill at a time: posing, finding the perfect background, using a flash.
How about a customer appreciation party? If you have a studio, host an open house to allow prospects and clients the opportunity to see more of your work. If you don’t, check with your local restaurants. Many have back party areas you can rent out for the price of food. Be flexible with the days, and work together to get the best deal – the restaurant will be showcasing what they do to a large group as well. Then put up your images on easels, and have a good time.
Get ready for the holidays. Create specials for your clients, and create several mailings to make sure they take advantage of your specials. Holiday cards, portrait specials, holiday presents – be creative with what you do. Make sure you put deadlines well before the holidays, and stick with them. You can be done with everything by December 15th, and enjoy your own holiday season instead of rushing to deliver at the last moment.
Update your marketing materials along the way. Never buy things in big quantities unless you have a specific purpose. Things change quickly, and you’ll grow with new ideas. Yes, 1000 postcards might be cheaper than 500 (per postcard), but leaving several hundred in the box because you change direction defeats the point. With today’s technology, it’s just as easy to order 100 of something, try it out to see if it works, and adjust from there. Don’t forget to use your web presence as efficiently as possible – it’s the most economical way of marketing your business.
Reflect. December is always one of the busiest times of the year, so rather than starting something new, reflect on what worked well this year – and what didn’t. What can you change for 2011? Start creating your new list for 2011. If you do this every year, your list will become more detailed, more focused, and your business will thrive well into the future.