by Mary Fisk-Taylor, M. Photog., Cr., CPP, ABI, API
As many of you may know and understand charitable marketing can be a great way to promote your business in your local communities and add revenue to your bottom line. We have many charitable marketing partnerships at our studios but one of our VERY favorites and quite frankly most profitable is our pet promotions that we make available to our communities each year.
Several years ago, eleven to be exact, we decided to partner with our local SPCA chapter. We chose this charity because of our love of animals, their mission statement and ideals. Our SPCA does several community benefits throughout the year including live/silent auctions, progressive wine dinners in the finer neighborhoods and the Annual Fur Ball at our only five-star/five diamond hotel in Richmond, Virginia. So, the great news is many of our clients were very active with this particular charity and it not only allowed us to contribute to a great cause but put us out there as a major donor for all of our clients and future clients to see.
I must be very clear and forthright with you when I discuss charitable marketing. When I talk about and venture into any charitable MARKETING campaigns it is for both charity sake and studio sake. Meaning I do expect my business to benefit along with the charity. If I want to personally or professionally donate to a charity then that is a personal or business decision that we make. I do this with no strings attached and gladly give up dollars to support something I believe in. However, when I am looking for a great campaign that will generate new clientele and perhaps revenue into my studio that is marketing. If I can include a great charity in this and they can also financially benefit then even better.
One of our favorite campaigns, the studio and the SPCA, is once a year we invite their top donors only by invitation to come to our studio for a pet portrait session. This session fee is greatly reduced and we even offer a complimentary 5x7 portrait with the price. So, for example we lower our normal creation fee to $59.00 and the 5x7 is included with the session. Since our 5x7 portraits are normally $125.00 this is a great deal for their donor list and we have booked anywhere from 35 to 100 sessions from this yearly campaign.
We do not do these all in one day and we actually allow them a 30 minute session time and 30 minute order appointment on that day or another time in the near future. We always and only run this promotion in the first quarter of the year since that is our slowest time and we need to generate both income and appointments. We offer small Pet Collections that are incentive priced and try to have fun with each and every one of these sessions.
What makes them so successful is the charity, in our case the SPCA, is totally on board with this. They send out emails, tweets, special facebook messages and even hard copy invitations to their top donors. Why do they work so hard for us? How do I get one of our community’s top charities to market for us? Because we give back the entire $59.00 session fee to them! They stand to benefit greatly and they know that every four-legged creature that gets in front of our lens means a donation for them. Plus, their inner circle of donors feels very special to be invited to participate in such a great promotion. They also recognize the “deal” and value in both the session and complimentary portrait and they get to donate to one of their favorite Richmond charities.
The great news for us is we always spend the time in the camera room creating some more traditional “portrait” style images of the animals. We make sure that if this client is interested in a larger image or perhaps even a portrait that they will have a perfectly tailored image to purchase. Then we spend the last 12 to 15 minutes of the session having fun with the animal and creating more unscripted images that the pet owner will hopefully fall in love with. These images are usually offered or suggested to the client for fun pet panels, note cards, gallery wraps or even metal collages. These types of art images can and do make a great statement in the client’s home.