Competition for expendable luxury dollars is fierce. Today's consumers are bombarded with advertising messages-thousands every day, in fact. Promotional messages are boldly delivered through radio, TV, billboards, magazines, newspapers, junk-mail, email, internet, movie theaters, shopping malls, grocery stores-everywhere one turns. What marketing technique can ignite a consumer's interest? Something unique-a delivery approach that stands-out from the barrage of information delivery systems encountered day-in and day-out-that's what consumers will pay attention to!
Doug and Donna Jirsa, owners of Lasting Impressions, are accomplished marketing innovators. Established in 1980, Lasting Impressions became an exclusively digital imaging studio in April 1999 with the purchase of a MegaVision digital back used on a Mamiya RZ camera. Today Doug shoots with a Contax 645 AF and a Phase One P25 digital back.
Lasting Impressions is located on the quaint main street in the original downtown area of Redlands, CA. Tree-lined sidewalks paved with brick provide a picturesque area for potential clients to window-shop; and the studio is nestled among other specialty shops including high-end salons, a children's clothing boutique, a trendy teen clothing shop, several jewelers, exclusive restaurants, and an irresistible gift boutique.
One highly-successful marketing technique developed by the Jirsas is quite simple-as most successful marketing campaigns are. As photographers we all know the cliché "A picture is worth a thousand words" is incredibly true. The challenge is how to get that one great picture in front of a potential client, in a format that compels the viewer to give their full attention, in order to create a desire for your photographic services.
Everyone loves to watch a Show. Using ProShow Producer and licensed, royalty-free music, we create digital Shows that are displayed in the studio windows. We get model releases signed from all who are featured.
As passers-by approach the studio, they hear music with voice-over messages that compliment the digital show playing in one of the front display windows. These shows, which run 24/7, are changed monthly (or more often) and feature Coming Attractions, special themes the studio offers. Almost everyone is drawn to pause in the vestibule at the studio window to watch the Show. Advertising frames are interspersed among the portraits in the show. Potential clients also see a 24x30 banner, displaying companion advertising with information on scheduling an appointment for the special.
A second Show plays silently in the opposite window featuring portraits of each high school senior who has purchased portraits at the studio (which averages 1,100 senior sessions annually). New images are added to the Senior Show monthly, and by the end of the school year the loop becomes quite lengthy. This is a popular stopping-place among the teenagers.
The studio gallery area is plainly visible through the front windows. As prospective clients watch the Shows, they subconsciously experience displays of the main products the studio offers. One section of the gallery features baby and children's portraiture, another section features families and yet another features senior portraiture-all display areas contain examples of portrait designs and products exclusive to the studio.
Because of the Shows, consumers are provided with a reason to come inside the studio and discuss portrait services. The Coming Attraction show delivers a call-to-action, as it promotes "limited-time" offers and themes.
The Senior Show creates a huge amount of activity at all times of the day and night. Each time the Senior Show is updated and running, simple postcards are mailed to the Seniors included in the show that read: "Your portrait is now being featured in the Senior Show in our studio window. Thought you might like to brag to family and friends!" The result of this minimal-cost mailing is phenomenal. Moms and Dads stop by on their way to and/from work; Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents come by; Co-workers, friends and neighbors come to watch the show. Then, there's the impact on the high school students-they gather in groups of three, four, or more. Often their excitement can be heard inside the studio when they see someone they know. Of course, there are occasional advertising frames pertaining to Senior Portrait products included as well.
Seniors are thrilled to be part of our Shows. The positive feedback from both them and their parents is extraordinary.
Powerful marketing messages
Don't underestimate the power of a digital show to promote your business. Shows can be used not only in your studio window, but also during any presentation to prospective clients. They're a guaranteed traffic stopper at bridal shows, and can aid in closing the sale for shoppers who are trying to make a decision about which photographer to choose.
No storefront? No problem. With current economic conditions, there are many shopping malls with empty stores. Approach mall management about putting your display in one of their empty store windows. If you're trying to reach high school seniors, find their gathering places. When searching for clients with small children-approach a high-end child's clothing store. Find the places where your prospective target client spends money. Offer the owner of the business a small quantity of your portrait gift certificates each month, to be given from them as a gift to their top customers in exchange for placing your digital show and business cards or brochures in their store.
Create a Show for each of your photographic specialties, making sure to keep them under three minutes, and invite prospective clients to take just a couple of minutes to see what you can do for them. Send them via email or regular mail as a marketing tool. Go ahead ... jump right in. The more Shows you create, the more new clients you'll acquire!
"Digital Veterans," Doug and Donna Jirsa own Lasting Impressions (www.lastingimpressionsfoto.com). Doug is the photographer, Donna the digital artist. In 28 years in business, they developed unique marketing skills that have produced lifetime clients. The duo are educators and consultants, members of PPA, PMAI, DIMA, PIEA, and NAPP.