a portrait studio promotion part 1

daylight photo seniors

As a buffer against slow business periods our commercial photo studio has explored adding additional services over the last year. Taking a cue from new forms of media, we added basic video production in late 2006 (samples here). It’s worked out well and the service continues to grow as clients find interest in combining both stills and video for their campaigns. More on the addition of video services in future posts.

Shortly after that we began a consumer portrait division to further diversify our offerings. The idea was to try and grow this division in order to move it to it’s own separate studio location.

The first six months of Daylight Photo Portraits centered around developing family and child photography services, offering ‘high end’ portraits. Because of our capabilities as an advertising photo studio we wanted to offer the consumer something different than they might get elsewhere, a slick, polished, more ‘advertising style’ product. We began finding some barriers to this approach:

  • With a studio overhead of $10,000+ a month we had to find a product people would be willing to pay a premium for. It didn’t make sense to enter the location portrait market because there were already a number of quality, low overhead, work-from-home photographers servicing that market. Instead we should utilize our point of difference and greatest strength, our 4,000 square foot advertising studio, and strive to be noticeably different.
  • The new portrait operation would be sharing shooting space with our existing commercial operation. To keep setup and teardown to a minimum It would be in our best interest to find ways to group portrait shoots together, rather than spreading out the bookings.
  • There were just too many other portrait options for consumers. When we polled potential clients in this conservative, midwestern market (Cincinnati), discount portraits from chain stores and traveling photo services filled many of their needs. A large percentage of people we spoke to were perfectly pleased with a $9.99 department store portrait. We realized it might take extensive (read: costly) advertising to reach potential consumers and to justify a premium price. We wanted something we could get into and out of easier if it didn’t work.

The clock was ticking on our portrait division and we needed a plan. Necessity is the mother of invention and, out of necessity, we began to see a clearer picture:

Teenage kids might be more likely to appreciate something slick and trendy, we thought. And our studio is near multiple affluent areas of Cincinnati, convenient to many prominent high schools. High school juniors need senior photos taken, it’s a huge market. And with YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and word of mouth available we might be able to really get some viral marketing going relatively quickly and without a huge outlay in cash.

We had a plan! Daylight Photo Seniors was born.

Part two tomorrow…