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How to Successfully Market Your Photography to High School Seniors

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Successful Senior Photography: Marketing to Seniors

I wouldn’t say that I have a specific “marketing strategy” for marketing to seniors that I can outline for you. Instead, I focus on giving the highest quality customer experience and customer service and then I mostly depend on my clients to do the marketing for me.

 

The Customer Experience

1. FIRST IMPRESSION

The customer experience usually starts with a visit to my website. I like to think of it as my virtual storefront. When I walk into a new store (or visit a new website), I immediately form a first impression – and my first impression is hard to break. Because of this, I made the decision to invest in a one-of-a-kind custom-designed website.  I want to be sure that my site stands out above my competition to a prospective client.
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2. QUICK RESPONSE

If a prospective client visits my website and likes what they see, they usually contact me via e-mail. I try to respond to these e-mails within 24 hours – if not sooner. This shows them that they are important to me and that they can expect attentive service if they choose to work with me. For an example of my client e-mails, see my previous post about Relating to Seniors.

 

3. IN-PERSON MEETING

If a prospective client seems interested in working with me, I suggest that we meet in-person. I usually meet them at a coffee shop. I tell them about my style of photography, but more importantly, I learn about them. I ask about their style and their interests and what they’re looking for in their photos. I get to know them, give them a packet of information about my senior sessions, show them some sample products, and offer to buy them a coffee. So far, 100% of clients who have met for a pre-session meeting have booked me for their senior pictures.

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4. OPEN COMMUNICATION

At the pre-session meeting, I let the client know that they can call, text, or e-mail me whenever they have questions or concerns. I tell them that they’re welcome to text me pictures of their outfits if they’re having a hard time making a decision or send me a link to a Pinterest board with ideas and inspiration for their pictures.

 

5. PERSONAL ATTENTION

During the photo shoot, I make sure my clients know that I am genuinely interested in them. I take their requests and concerns seriously, and I don’t try to make them do any poses or positions that they’re not comfortable with. Taking a cue from other premium establishments, I always have cold drinks to offer my clients during the shoot. Little things like this make a big difference. We talk and laugh and have a good time. They end up feeling more like friends than clients.

 

6. FIRST CLASS SERVICE

At the end of their session, I give them a timeline for when they can expect their pictures to be processed and ready for viewing. I always over-estimate so that I am guaranteed to meet (or, better yet, exceed) their expectations. I do the same thing for their order; I over-estimate how long it will take for the order to come in, then I hand-deliver it to them (custom packaged to match my branding) on or before the day I said it would be ready. I also send a thank-you note with a small gift after I’ve delivered their prints & products.

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My “Marketing Strategy”

High school seniors are usually extremely social. We touched briefly on this in previous posts (Successful Senior Photography: Relating to Seniors and Successful Senior Photography: Breaking into the Senior Market). If you don’t spend much time around them, you may be shocked by how often they engage in social media. In my part of the country, it’s not uncommon for a single student to tweet 10 or 20 times in a single day! Different social media outlets are more popular in different parts of the country/world, so it’s important to find out which one the teens in your area engage in most often.

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If you’ve made an effort to give your client a top-notch customer experience, chances are you won’t have to invest very much (if any) money specifically towards marketing. Luckily, this makes marketing to seniors much easier than marketing to most other audiences.  After you’ve given them a one-of-a-kind senior picture experience, they will tell, tweet, and text their friends all about it!
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And you can make that even easier for them. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. are all free and easy, you just have to invest a little time in learning about them and then incorporate posts, tweets, status updates, pins, tags and hashtags into your daily routine. Post about your client – talk about how much fun you had with them and tag them in your post.

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One last side note…

It’s almost guaranteed that your senior clients will want to post pictures from their session on the Internet as soon as they’re able to. Keep in mind that if you don’t make this easy for them, they will find a way anyway. Since nobody wants low-resolution screen shots or cell phone pictures of their prints all over the Internet, I highly recommend embracing and not fighting your client’s desire to post their pictures and making it easy for them to do so. It’s free marketing! You can tell a client not to post the pictures on the Internet until you’re blue in the face but chances are you will just frustrate them and your pictures will end up there anyway. If you don’t want them to post un-watermarked pictures, then provide web-sized watermarked pictures for them. That doesn’t mean they won’t crop your watermark out. My advice is to just let it go. It’s not worth the battle and it’s not worth upsetting your client.

Up next: Editing Senior Pictures: A Look at My Workflow

 

Need help with posing seniors?  Check out the MCP Senior Posing Guides, filled with tips and tricks for photographing high school seniors.

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About the Author:
Ann Bennett is the owner of Ann Bennett Photography in Tulsa, OK. She specializes in high school senior pictures and lifestyle family photography. For more information about Ann, visit her website Ann Bennett Photo or Facebook page.

 

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  2. Viv on July 8, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Do you know how to get a list of high school seniors in a certain area for marketing post cards?

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