This isn’t by any means a new type of promotion, in fact the MPA here in the UK have been running pretty much the same baby promotion since 1988 (Cherubs). It is however very successful and something that I have been using for a long time.
This marketing campaign does rely on a couple of things:
Leads… lots of them. Here in the UK there are a handful of places to buy in leads. For this campaign to be successful you do need to play the numbers game so it’s very much a case of spending a fair amount on those names and numbers.
An incentive. It could be a free photo or even a cash prize (the MPA promotion offers both).
The baby promotion offer
Three to four photography sessions all taken 3-4 months apart in the baby’s first year. It’s up to you whether you charge or not for the sessions but it might be worth charging a deposit refundable or otherwise. I’ve found charging a small sum of £20 works if you are shooting in a studio. Clients are a lot less likely to miss appointments if they’re already finically invested.
After each shoot you either host a viewing a few days later in your studio or at the clients home. Even if you’ve only been dealing with the baby’s mother try and arrange a viewing where both parents are present. Unfortunately this can be as much of a hindrance as it is a help as men in general are little less excited about baby photos.
Avoid online viewings. On occasion you might want to post a gallery online after a sale has been made for grandparents or extra orders.
Try and offer something different in each session. The first shoot could be nice and simple and with the baby on it’s own with the second and third introducing the parents and other siblings.
What to charge
If you are used to one off family shoots then my advice is expect your sales to be a lot less! On the other hand when you add up the total sales you make from all three shoots you should be making above your average for a single session.
I like to offer affordable products with a very high profit margin and introduce more expensive items in the second and third sessions.
Getting the booking
What type of leads you get. If you do get phone numbers then use them! Most likely your leads will be in the form of names and addresses so putting together a strong mail-out is important.
Include lots of different ways for people to contact you. Your phone number must be prominent on your literature but we also found having a dedicated baby photography contact form on our site to be really helpful.
We send out two sets of letters. The first is much larger than the second but the artwork is consistent throughout. The second letter normally has a call to action like ‘call within the next 4 days to take advantage of this offer…’ You might even want to include extra vouchers in your mail-out like money off or even free prints.
There’s no set formula, what works for some might not work for another so experiment a little bit but give each change at least three months to test its effectiveness.
What return to expect from mail-outs
Typically about a 5% booking rate is about average so that is also worth considering when you are thinking about how many leads to take on.
It’s a slow burner
In the beginning things will seem slow as this is an offer which can take quite some time to build momentum. In most cases it’ll be roughly 12-18 months before you reach the full potential of the offer. At that point you’ll not only be photographing sessions from new leads but also 2nd, 3rd and in some cases 4th sessions.
If in the first few months you think that the amount of bookings you are getting isn’t enough then just remember that in a years time that figure will likely triple (and hopefully so will your profits).
Three sessions on a white background isn’t that interesting so it is important to bring a bit of variety to each shoot.
We like to do at least one of the sessions on location in a local park or common and encourage more of a family photo-shoot element to the session. We also try and hold back on too many family shots when the baby is only a couple of months old as they sell better when the baby is a bit older and there is more interaction.
However you go about your 1st year baby promotion remember to keep in contact with the families after the third shoot and encourage them to refer you as much as you can (especially before mum goes back to work and is no longer attending yummy mummy coffee mornings).
View our Marketing Campaigns for Photographers section for even more great tips and ideas to help you grow your photography business.
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Michael has been working as a photographer for the last ten years. In that time he has shot over 100,000 peoples’ portraits and worked in four different continents. In 2001 Michael graduated with a degree in photography from Manchester Metropolitan University.