By Tanya Smith, WorkStory Corporate Photography

The holidays are fast approaching and they are a prime time for photographers to cross promote their businesses with other businesses. Some of these events will likely already be in the works for this holiday season, but if you can identify businesses who don’t yet have plans in place you’ll forge some great relationships and hopefully boost your portrait and commercial bookings.  Otherwise, many of these tactics will work for your 2017 marketing planning.

Photo Booths

While not particularly glamorous work, running a photo booth at events put on by local businesses are a great way to meet new potential clients and work with businesses. Here are a few ways we’ve used photo booths to boost our commercial photography business at WorkStory Corporate Photography here in Spokane.

Business + Charity Events

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KiDDS Dental, a pediatric dentist in our community, does a Great Candy Buy Back event every year the day after Halloween. They pay kids in the community cash for their halloween candy, which is then sent to American troops who are away from their families during the holidays. Donations for care packages are also collected. The kids and families create and sign cards to send to the troops as well. We set up a holiday themed photo booth and snap photos for free (or a donation) that we print and send to the troops as well with a message of joy and hope. In years past we sold prints via an online gallery, which was a great way to collect email addresses, and then donated the proceeds to Operation Gratitude, the organization behind the care packages for the troops.

I love giving back to the community and collaborating with businesses in this way. If you don’t know of an event like this already happening in your area, approach a business you want to work with and suggest collaborating on an event that will benefit a charity. Consider a free photo booth for babies at a kid’s boutique. Parents bring a pack of diapers as a donation and get a free photo of their baby. A food drive and photos with santa (see below) or any number of other ideas. The gathering of the email addresses and following up in some way with those potential clients will be the key for you to benefit from giving your time in an event like this. The press also loves to hear about events that benefit charity, so this could be an opportunity for you to get some press coverage.

For Profit Events

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This year we partnered up with Simply Northwest, a popular gift basket boutique in Spokane, by doing a photo booth at their Witch’s Night Out event. Customers came dressed in costumes and had their photo taken for free (Simply Northwest is paid for our time and the prints at cost). We designed a frame overlay with our logo and the Simply Northwest logo on the prints and are including a business card and other handouts from the boutique in a clear bag. Customers will have to come back into the store later to pick up their print (a strategic idea from the boutique owner). 

Santa Pics

I haven’t actually tried this but I’ve been toying with the idea. The wait to see Santa at our local mall is outrageous. Like 2 hours. And the kids get like 30 seconds with the guy. Why not partner with a local business to offer a Santa Photo Booth (or other holiday theme)? Partnering up with a retail space that has a lot of traffic or caters to kids and families (like a kid’s dentist, preschool or rec center) would be ideal. Planning ahead and advertising the event will be key, but if you’re partnering with a business you can delegate responsibilities and share the costs of promoting and set up.

Swag

Many businesses and organizations will have holiday parties or events where they will invite their clients and collaborators. Everyone loves swag and offering swag bags to event attendees is a popular thing to do. Approach businesses you would like to work with and offer to include a really cool swag item in their swag bags (branded with your logo and website of course) or include a gift certificate for a free shoot with a brochure showing off all your lovely work.

Gift Certificates

The idea of offering Gift Certificates or Vouchers is one I’ve often heard from the popular women’s portrait photographer Sue Bryce. She recommends you approach businesses who cater to your target portrait audience and offer to do a shoot for them for free in exchange for having them give your gift certificate to their V.I.P. customers. You’ll then do a shoot for their clients for free and up sale them the prints. If you have an in-person-sales business model, this will work great for you.

Marketing/Advertising Strategy

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Businesses typically start to plan their budgets and marketing plans for the coming year in the third quarter of the current year (or prior).  As you are coming up with your own plans, this is a perfect time to meet with other business owners to share ideas and ask them about their plans.  First, you’ll get ideas that you can implement in your own photography business.  Also, you could brainstorm advertising ideas with them for the coming year and point out areas where photography could help out their marketing plan.  By better asking them about their goals and understanding their goals, you can identify ways that you can help them through photography.

Depending on how much help they need, if you put together a paid package you can offer to let them pre-pay for some of their services in 2016.  Some businesses may be looking for a way to spend extra money at the end of the year, depending on their tax situation, so they may appreciate being able to take the deduction in 2016.  And in that case, you get paid early for services that you are going to do later.  It is a win-win.

If they’re in need of a website make-over or just starting out, a StickyApp could be a perfect solution for them that you can offer. Point out all the ways photography could be used, not just on their website. Billboards, ads, brochures, social media, vehicle wraps, product catalogs and e-commerce. The value you can provide for them is huge! Don’t wait until after the holidays to approach businesses about this, since they’ll likely have already made their marketing plan and set their budget for the year.

Free Holiday Card Photos

Are there some businesses you really want to work with or do you have some loyal business customers you want to reward? Why not offer to shoot a creative holiday photo of their staff they can send to all their clients? This could be used as a cross promotional piece for both of you. You do the photo for free, they design and send out the cards with a photo credit and your logo on it. Hmmmm, I want to try this idea right now!

Giveaway Contest

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Partner with a few businesses that have the same target audience to do a massive giveaway contest on social media. Maybe you partner with a salon, spa, make-up artist and chocolatier for the ultimate pampering experience gift giveaway, including a portrait session after a spa day and make-over. Or partner with a kid’s clothing boutique, jump-and-bounce indoor gym, pottery place and bike shop and offer a free kid’s portrait session in the bundle. The key here will be to make sure you all gather leads or “exposure” in some way over a few weeks leading up to the holidays and then have a way to follow up with those leads to convert them to clients.

Beyond Christmas

Don’t forget about New Year’s Eve parties, the January rush to lose weight (could you partner with a gym or weight loss clinic to offer before and after make-over sessions?) and Valentine’s Day (restaurants, spas, candy stores, massage therapists). Start planning to cross promote with businesses now for these upcoming post Christmas holidays.

Conclusion

The holidays is prime time for promoting retail goods and the same can be true for your photography business. Partnering up with businesses in creative ways, to either offer them photos for their own businesses or as a cross promotional tool, is a smart way to promote your photography services. How will you use some of these ideas this holiday season?