***Photo by Phan Tien
These are challenging times, no doubt.
Your weddings are rescheduled, events are being cancelled, and portrait bookings have completely dried up. But as a small business owner, your livelihood depends on the money you earn with your camera.
So—what do you do?
There are a lot of ways you can still make money; you just need to think outside the box. Businesses around the world are pivoting, and you should, too! The silver lining is that some of these new strategies are going to stick and become the new normal. That’s why you can’t expect to get results doing what you used to do. You need to get creative.
For example, you could:
- Offer a print sale or “virtual” IPS experience for wall portrait design for all past shoots that have a gallery.
- Offer all past wedding clients an album promotion.
- Offer a print sale to all past gallery visitors.
- Offer all past portrait clients the opportunity to invest in a family portrait plan—I’ve personally used this in my business to generate a quick $10k multiple times.
- Offer all past shoots a coupon for a future purchase (i.e. session, prints, products, etc.).
- Offer past newborn clients a great promotion if they pre-purchase a 1-year session.
- Offer past maternity clients a complimentary FaceTime session if they pre-purchase a session (newborn, 6-month, etc.) with you.
- Offer help (networking, trade, future business opportunities) to all past business and commercial clients.
- Offer an online photography class to all past family portrait clients.
- Offer a portrait book promotion to all past family portrait clients.
***Photo by Laura Babb
I’ve been a professional wedding and portrait photographer for almost 15 years now. I’m also the CEO and Founder of Sprout Studio. We help professional photographers—like you—run successful businesses and we have an all-in-one studio management suite that makes it easy.
See—in light of everything happening in the world, we wanted to do something to help. So back when this all started, mid-March, we decided to pivot our entire team and build email marketing into Sprout Studio. We built it in record time.
Our motivation was simple—we wanted to help photographers connect with their clients, stay top-of-mind, help and guide their communities, generate more revenue and market in all-new ways.
We also wrote all of the above email marketing campaign sales letters for our community. They’re available—for free—for every Sprout Studio user. And we’ll give you a link, below, to one of them right now, for free, even if you’re not a Sprout Studio user!
Here are the strategies that went into the email campaigns. And here are the top 7 tips for writing a successful promotional sales letter.
***Photo by Joseph Radhik
Don’t put a Facebook post up or write a blog post and hope that people will find it. Be active with your marketing and sales efforts. Reach out to your clients and make sure there’s no chance that they miss the opportunities.
For example, one of the campaigns is meant to be sent to every client who’s ever had a gallery with you. Of course, you can narrow it down by shoot type (i.e. only weddings or only portraits) if you’d like. The email campaign in Sprout Studio will also allow you to automatically re-open their gallery, set a new expiry date (i.e. 7 days) and apply a specific price list so you can offer discounted prices easily.
It’s ok to be a little bit vulnerable. Now isn’t the time to publish a “message from our President” email, but instead, it’s the time to be relatable. You don’t need to go into a sob story or throw a pity party, but it’s ok to explain how this crisis has affected your business. Empathy is at an all-time high right now, and if you help them, people will understand and want to help, especially if that means they get something out of it, too.
For example, in one of the campaigns I wrote, I explain that the photography industry has been hit hard. I don’t do it by throwing a pity party though; it’s subtle, to the point and hopeful vs. being too negative.
***Photo by Shari + Mike
Give a reason.
The #1 rule in sales is to answer the question: Why now? Why is now the time to act vs. last week? Last month? Next month? Next year? You have to give them a reason. The obvious one, now, is the current worldwide crisis. That gives you a reason to be reaching out. It gives them a reason to be listening. It then allows you to make an offer that benefits them and helps keep your business afloat.
For example, in one of the campaigns I wrote, I explain that I’ve realized how other businesses are pivoting—restaurants, yoga studios, physical therapists—and that I should pivot, too. I also mention that since I can’t be out shooting, I have more time to be working on print orders and designing books for my clients right now.
Agitate the pain.
In sales, sometimes, you need to pepper in a bit of pain. But—note—I’m not saying that you should fear monger. Never. And especially not now. But there’s nothing wrong with helping people see the symptoms of a problem that you might be able to solve for them.
For example, in one of the campaigns I wrote, I suggest that maybe because they have been spending so much time at home, they’ve realized that they never decorated their home with the photos from their session the way that they had initially hoped.
*** Photo by Joao Guedes
What is the opportunity you’re offering? Be very specific. Don’t make your clients waste mental calories, trying to figure it out. Be clear. Be specific and make sure they know what the opportunity is.
For example, in one of the campaigns I wrote, I clearly explain that the opportunity is for 25% off all prints they order within the next seven days from their gallery.
Speak in terms of them.
Everyone wants to know WIIFM—what’s in it for me? Make sure you speak in terms of them. Talk about benefits and help them visualize how they’ll be affected if they take you up on the opportunity. What will their life look like afterwards? You don’t need to be overly dramatic, but help them see a positive result or transformation.
For example, in one of the campaigns I wrote, I give an alternative opportunity—a virtual wall decor appointment. It’s an offer to help them decorate their home (virtually) with photos from their session. I explain that we’ll do a Facetime call, they can tell me (and show me) how (and where) they’d like to enjoy their photos every day, and that I’ll design a mock-up for them to visualize it.
***Photo by Igor Demba
Be the guide.
Take your clients by the hand and walk them through what they need to do. Answer the question: What’s next? And what’s after that? And then what? How, exactly, can they take advantage of the opportunity? Again, don’t make them burn mental calories; make it simple.
For example, in one of the campaigns I wrote, I specifically list out the four steps they must take to take advantage of the promotion in a “do this, then this, then this, then this” type of format. It’s succinct, clear and specific.
I’d like to give you this email campaign sales letter. It allows you to offer all past clients a print sale or a virtual IPS experience for wall portraits. You can copy it and send it to your clients today.
You can also use it (as well as the strategies above) as the starting point to think—creatively—of other ways you can generate money right now.
Again, the key is to think outside the box.
If you just want done-for-you email campaigns like the one you’ll get for free, we pre-built over 20 of them—for free—into Sprout Studio for you.
*** Photo by Catalina Dow
Not familiar? Sprout Studio is a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers. It gives you everything in one place—client management, invoicing, payments, bookkeeping, contracts, questionnaires, surveys, galleries, downloads, prints, album proofing, online scheduling and now…email marketing!
Sign up for a 21-day free trial today. And since you’re coming from Conference and Chill you can save 20% off of your subscription fee when you sign up for an annual subscription!
Founder of Sprout Studio and host of the Business of Photography Podcast.
Bio: Bryan Caporicci is an award-winning wedding and portrait photographer based out of Fonthill, Canada. In 2014, he was awarded his Masters of Photographic Arts (MPA) designation by the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC), making him one of the youngest Canadian photographers to receive this level of achievement. He teaches at workshops across North America, including industry-leading conventions and conferences such as WPPI, Shutterfest and Canada Photo Convention. Bryan is also the CEO and Founder of Sprout Studio and host of the Business of Photography Podcast.