PHLEARN MagazineHow to Market Yourself to Win New Photography Clients This Holiday Season

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How to Market Yourself to Win New Photography Clients This Holiday Season

For most of us, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest time of the year. It’s often overwhelming and rushed – it’s hard to think about marketing when you’re focused on finishing up projects, sending out invoices, and taking care of your own holiday shopping list. But this festive season is also the most profitable time of the year for most small businesses. And it’s the perfect opportunity to promote yourself and show your clients how much you appreciate their support without looking like you’re trying too hard to make a sale.

As a photographer, you also have a lot to offer your customers during the holidays, when the focus is on family, relationships, and love. With our help, you’ll be able to craft the ideal marketing campaign to get the word out and end the year on a high note.

Why Market Yourself This Time of Year?

The holidays are all about creating memories with loved ones – and that’s exactly what photographers are in the business of doing. Tapping into that nostalgia and festive spirit with a well-designed holiday marketing campaign can draw in your long-term clients and attract the attention of new ones. Parents are thinking about how much their kids have grown over the past year, couples are getting engaged, and there’s a lot of excitement and emotion to be captured – and you are just the person to do it.

Additionally, this time of year is when sales are at their peak. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals happening basically all around the world, at this point, customers are all looking for a bargain as they work their way through their Christmas shopping lists. And the products you have to offer can be a bit of a balm to all that consumerism – instead of buying another item that will likely be forgotten about in a couple of months, your clients can invest in prints to evoke feelings of warmth and happiness all year long. You’re not selling them stuff; you’re selling them memories.

Photography Holiday Marketing Tips

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Who Are You Marketing To?

Chances are, you’re hoping to appeal to both new clients and existing ones. Remind customers you’ve worked with before that it’s time to schedule a new photoshoot – their kids are growing fast and it’s important to capture those moments before they’re gone. Offer incentives and promotions that cater to repeat clients as well as special deals for first-time customers.

Additionally, consider who your client base is. The way you’ll draw in families on a budget is going to be very different from how you’ll attract newly-engaged couples looking to invest in spectacular wedding photos. Your marketing campaign should be targeted specifically to the type of audience you want to work with – this will impact everything from how you communicate with them to what kind of promotions you should be offering.

It’s also important to figure out in advance which people you’re hoping to reach out to so that you’re not rushing at the last minute to order extra cards printed or frantically trying to remember the name of the business owner you did some product photography for last March. Go through your files to pull the names and addresses of everyone you want to connect with over the holidays so that when you sit down to actually send these greetings out, you already have all the information you need to get the job done.

What Kind of Message Do You Want to Send?

Before you can develop your holiday marketing campaign, you’ll need to figure out what you want it to say. This will, of course, depend heavily on who your clients are and what they’re looking for. Are you just looking to spread holiday cheer with a simple thank-you note and maybe a discount code or a gift card? Or are you hoping to actively advertise a specific sale or seasonal promotion?

How Can You Get Your Message Across?

There are tons of options when it comes to marketing yourself these days – with the rise of social media, you don’t even need to send out actual holiday cards. However, when you’re deciding on the type of promotional materials you want to send out, it’s important (again!) to remember who your customers are and what they expect from you. Young families might not want a paper flyer, since it will likely get lost in the shuffle and their fridges are probably already covered with things like grocery lists, children’s drawings, and school pictures. But higher-end clients might prefer to receive a well-designed greeting on heavy cardstock, instead of yet another email.

We’ll take you through a few of the possibilities at your disposal, but remember – this is a creative industry, and your options are truly endless. If you’ve got a great idea for a unique marketing campaign, give it a shot! Just remember who your audience is and what you’re hoping to express to them.

Holiday Card Photo

Holiday Cards

Whether physical or digital, a holiday card is the quintessential seasonal greeting. It gives you a chance to highlight some of your most creative work and touch base with your clients in a thoughtful, festive way. It can be a bit overdone, though – we all get tons of cards this time of year, so unless yours is especially memorable, it likely won’t really stand out (keep reading to find out how you can leave a lasting impression). This type of marketing is generally only delivered to existing clients, as well, so unless your holiday card is spectacular enough that your customers are sharing it with their friends, it’s probably not going to win you any new business.

Still, sending a thoughtful holiday card is a friendly, intimate way to remind your clients that you’re thankful for their patronage and to encourage them to come back for more photos in the new year.

Calendars

For a photographer, this is a perfect way to highlight your work and keep your name in your customer’s mind throughout the next 12 months. Offering a useful gift that doubles as a year-round advertisement is a great way to make the most of your marketing dollars. Later, we’ll go over some tips to make your marketing photos stand out, but you can find tons of other tutorials and articles to help you create images your clients will want to keep on the wall.

Consider including some tear-away business cards on the bottom, too – that way, when their friends and family members stop by for a visit and comment on the beautiful calendar hanging by the fridge, they can take a card and connect with you for their own photography needs.

Timely Blog Posts

If you’re hoping to drive traffic to your website to grow your customer base, a great way to do this is by sharing themed posts that provide good information. Stick to something relevant to your field of work, to remain on-brand – if you typically shoot family portraits, maybe create a post with some tips for parents to remember when they’re trying to capture the magic of Christmas morning. A wedding photographer might share a list of the most popular styles of engagement rings this season, for potential clients who are hoping to pop the question during the holidays. And for someone who specializes in product photography, offer some suggestions for hosts looking to present an impressive-looking spread for a family dinner.

If writing isn’t your thing, you could try making videos, instead. The idea here is that your holiday marketing can be as simple as adding value to the lives of your clients through sharing your expertise in a fun, engaging way – you don’t have to invest in a major promotional campaign to reach out to your clients.

Emails or Newsletters

If you typically send out regular updates to a mailing list, spice things up for the season by adding some holiday branding, using a creative and festive subject line, and highlighting some of the ways your product makes the perfect gift. Again, this isn’t the kind of marketing that will draw new customers, but it’s a great way to keep in touch with your regular clients and encourage them to come back for another shoot.

Holiday Sale for Photography Clients

What Promotions Can You Offer?

To remain competitive in this industry, your rates are probably already not leaving you much wiggle room, so thinking about lowering your prices any further for a holiday sale is probably a bit terrifying. However, there are some ways you can create promotions that will end up bringing in more business, making any discount more than worth it.

Gift Cards

Who doesn’t love getting a gift card for Christmas? This is a great way to encourage your existing clients to bring in new ones – you can even offer an incentive, like a 15 percent discount on print orders when customers purchase a gift card. These can be in specific amounts, or you can set them up as a pre-paid sitting fee, where the recipient would only need to purchase the photo package.

BOGO

This is a tried and true sales tactic that can work really well in the photography industry. While you might not always offer ‘items’ for clients to buy, you can incorporate a ‘buy one get one’ deal into your print packages by giving customers, say, a free 5×7 with every 11×14, or you can expand it to include future sittings – clients who purchase a wedding package, for example, might get the engagement shoot at a discount, or free pictures of the newborn after a full maternity shoot.

While this one will take a little tweaking to fit it to your specific pricing structure and business offerings, it’s a great way to give your clients a good deal while also bringing in more of a profit for yourself. Everybody wins!

Holiday Mini-Sessions

Mini-sessions can be a lot of work, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet some new clients and let your photography speak for itself. And with all the beautiful decorations this time of year, it’s pretty easy to create a gorgeous, seasonally-themed backdrop. Maybe you even have a friend who wouldn’t mind donning a red suit and a beard for a couple hours as a more professional alternative to the awkward mall Santa photos parents often end up regretting.

Santa Claus and Child Photo

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

It’s likely too late for this year, but this is one you can plan ahead for in future years and let your customers know that this is the perfect way to get an updated, festive shot to use for their own holiday greetings.

Social Media Contests

You’ve certainly seen these before – Instagram or Facebook posts where users are asked to ‘like and share’ to be entered to win the prize. No matter what you choose to offer up for grabs, this technique will ensure your promotion and your business will be viewed by tons of potential new clients. Make sure your post is well-designed, with plenty of information and an eye-catching image (which we will discuss in more detail in the next section), so that anyone who sees the post will be tempted to visit your website to learn more about you.

Giving Back

This season is a time for giving, so take advantage of your customers’ generosity and give them the chance to support you while donating to a worthy cause at the same time. It might feel a little disingenuous to include this in a list of ways to promote yourself over the holidays, but it’s the perfect opportunity for you to make your participation in the heightened consumerism of the season feel a little more wholesome.

It’s a frantic, excessive time of year, and there are lots of people out there who don’t have the means to participate – so choose a charity of your choice and donate a portion of your profits to their cause. This can be a food bank, a shelter, anything that means something to you. And then let your clients know that every time they purchase an 8×10 or a gift card or any photo package (or whatever works best for you and your customer base), part of that money is going to help those in need.

How Can You Make a Lasting Impression?

People remember advertising that makes them feel something, so keep this in mind when you’re designing your holiday promotional materials. Use your photography and design knowledge to create something special that your customers will want to hang on to, so it doesn’t end up getting tossed with the rest of the holiday excess that will no doubt accumulate in the coming weeks. This could include printing your holiday greeting on a magnet or calendar card, or even just putting it in a beautiful hand-addressed envelope that receivers will be eager to open.

It also means choosing images that make an impact, too. Here are some tips to make your marketing photos stand out:

1. Make Them Feel Meaningful

Gone are the days where photo shoots were all about perfection – now, people want photos to tell a real story. Give your images a down-home touch by avoiding mass-produced decorations and going for something more artisanal. Use a set with a real (or as real-looking as possible) tree and ornaments that feel hand-crafted.

Decorating Christmas Tree Photo

2. Make Them Feel Intimate

Nothing leaves a bigger impression on a viewer than emotion, so look for photos that feel like captured moments from everyday life – something warm, interactive, and candid. Remind your customers what it feels like to look back on physical representations of these kinds of scenes in their own lives.

3. Make Them Feel Cozy

We all love snuggling up in front of the fire while the snow is falling outside. Try to bring this sense of comfort and coziness into the images you use for your marketing this time of year. Instead of using traditional reds and greens, which can feel a little bright and garish, incorporate softer, warmer colors like gold, creamy off-whites, and earth tones.

4. Make Them Funny

Humor is always a solid way to make a memorable impression, so avoid using overly serious, posed shots and aim for something a little outside of the box. Capture families building a snowman together, or follow them with your camera as they strap on their skates and try to stay balanced on the ice.

5. Make Them Versatile

Remember, Christmas isn’t the only holiday being celebrated this time of year. It’s always a good idea to design your seasonal shoots with a multicultural appeal. Things like candles, strings of lights and beads, a roaring fire, and falling snow are not holiday-specific and can accommodate clients who celebrate a wide range of traditions – or none at all.

Family Winter Photo

What Are Your Future Plans?

With the new year right around the corner, this is the perfect time to plan for next year. What are your goals? How can you grow your business? Set yourself some reminders for the upcoming months so you can begin working on campaigns like this well ahead of time, instead of feeling rushed at the last minute. You can also use this time to reflect on the successes and failures of this year’s holiday campaign, so you can make some changes to your approach next December.

While this won’t necessarily win you new clients during the holiday season, it will definitely start you off on the right foot in January – setting you up for year-round success.

A holiday marketing campaign can be the perfect excuse to reach out to clients you haven’t seen in a while and spread the word about your business to new potential customers. And focusing on the festive mood of this time of year can even help get you into the holiday spirit. Whether you’re running a well-established business or you’re an entrepreneur just getting started with your marketing efforts, this is the ideal time of year to connect with your customers, give back to your community, and show gratitude for the support you’ve seen this year.

Jessi Gowan

Jessi Gowan is an award-winning writer and photographer who specializes in rural landscapes and fine art abstracts, with a focus on form and composition. Her photography has been included in a variety of publications, as well as in exhibitions in Canada and the United States.

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