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21 Ideas to Maximize Your Down Time & Be Ready For The Future

With the unprecedented social distancing we are practicing right now we have an excellent opportunity to catch up on the things that have been delayed or neglected in our business for too long. From your equipment maintenance to your marketing, you have some extra time to do things you’ve been needing to do.

So here’s a top 21 list of ideas you can do prepare your business to hit the ground running when things start returning to normal, and they will return to normal. Don’t let your competition get a jump start on you!

#1 Website – How old is your website? When was the last time you updated the images on your site? Does your about me page read all about you or what you can do for them? (hint: they don’t care you got your first camera at age 7) Do you have a blog page that has a huge gap since the last time you posted? Do you have last year’s seniors, families, old ads still showing? Now is the time to update all of those! Need a new website?

#2. Studio Sample Prints – Now is a great time to replace some of those prints on the wall. You know the ones that are going on over a year old? Yeah, those need to be sold to the family of that subject in the image. Offer the image to them at a 50% discount and you can use those funds towards new samples. Consider testing some of your lab’s different paper samples. Today many labs have fine art papers to give you an alternative product that the consumer can’t get at Walmart or Cosco.

#3. Studio Sample Albums – Albums are one of the most profitable products you can offer in your studio. Chris Fritchie of McKenna, TX photographs with an album in mind with every session he does. Especially his storytelling Santa albums.

His philosophy is that you can always sell a wall portrait from a session shot with an album story in mind but you can’t always sell an album from a wall portrait session. Now is a great time to think of a creative story theme to promote later in the year like Chris’s Santa theme. Chances are you probably know someone even now who is not ultra paranoid and would be willing to model to help you create a new sample. You could build your set and have it all ready for later in the year.

#4. Sample Brochure – Show you are an expert or specialize in something. Use this in your PR Kit with follow-ups to meetings you’ve had or connections you want to make. You can insert gift cards or coupons for additional incentives.

#5. Family Portraits – Family portraits are going to be even more meaningful after this experience. Now is a good time to start planning your fall family campaign. Direct mail is still effective and thanks to Every Door Direct Mail things are more affordable than ever. Use this time to craft your message, put together your content, your offer and decide where you want to target. Learn more at USPS here – https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm

#6. Photography Technique – Now is the time to experiment with a new lighting and camera technique. It might be the use of constant lighting or making your own light diffusion source or a large reflector? Experiment with creating shadows on the wall with your background light as an interesting touch on an old background. Go scout new on-location backgrounds, etc. You can also get some great free education online and experts like Joel Grimes offer tremendous photography education. Check him out here at – https://www.joelgrimes.com

#7. Photoshop Techniques – Regardless if you are a newbie or experienced, there’s always something to learn or try. Maybe it’s a Photoshop action or a new texture to blend or an unusual graphic look you want to try. It’s a great time to work thru these ideas. There are some great free Youtube tutorials but if you want someone who takes it to the next level is Woody Walters. You can find more information on Woody’s education here: https://woodywaltersdigitalphotocandy.com

#8. Workflow – Have you struggled with creating a workflow to manage your image files? Determining the right procedure that saves you time is important. Perhaps a new batch action in Photoshop is in order? Do you use Lightroom? Or maybe you have it but haven’t learned to use it? There’s a lot you can learn in a short time! Here’s a link to learn more – https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-

#9. Camera room improvements – Sometimes your camera room just needs a little reorganizing or remodeling. It’s amazing how a little change can spark your creativity. Get some hangers up on the wall to get those chairs off the floor. Get a background rail hooked up to get all those muslins off the floor for faster use and fewer wrinkles. Get some cubby boxes or drawers installed for better organization.

#10. Studio Facility – Take some candid of your facility starting with the outside of your location and all areas your customer sees. Does it look neat, tidy and professional? Or are there obvious things that need to be cleaned up, repainted or reorganized? Chipped walls or chairs that are starting to look a little too worn can affect your customer’s perception of you. Wires that need to be bundled and hidden will help minimize the look of over technology. Be critical of what you see because your customer is.

#11. Deep Clean – From this point forward cleanliness is going to be a common conversation and message to customers. What will do and promote that going forward?

#12. Stay in Contact – Contact your customers on a regular basis. Email blasts and newsletters are more apt to be seen and read now more than ever. Interview other vendors and post that to your blog page to add variety and interest to attract potential new customers thanks to that new connection. Consider a printed newsletter as direct mail provides maximum exposure. And you only need to send it to your client base so it’s affordable to do.

#13. Software Programs – Are there software programs you haven’t considered yet? Marathon is partnering with GotPhoto to be able to offer order fulfillment and provide you with all the tools to maximize profits and ease workflow with your sports and events business. Learn more about GotPhoto at this link https://www.marathonpress.com/gotphoto/.

#14. Print Competition – Have you been wanting to get some images ready for PPA’s print competition? Start searching thru your files. You know you have some strong potentials in there somewhere. Or maybe you need to do some photography to create something specifically for competition? Either way, look at the quality you are up against and get inspired by looking thru your previous Loan and/or Show books. Don’t have any? We know where you can find some! Click on this link – https://www.marathonpress.com/image-collections/

#15. Equipment – Have any lenses or camera bodies that need repair. Have your sensors cleaned so you don’t have that one stupid spot that you have to retouch out time and time again. Get your gear sent off and taken care of. Got old but still capable equipment you no longer use? Sell it or trade it for something else. Need to purchase any new gear? The specials the camera stores will be offering will be in your favor. Here’s a source to consider for camera sensor cleaning – https://perfectimagecamera.com/repair/sensor-cleaning/

#16. Goal Planning. No more excuses. Now is the time to gather your thoughts, identify priorities and make a strong strategic marketing plan for the remainder of the year. And while timing is going to be a little hard to predict at the moment, you want to have your ducks in a row once the timing is right. We can provide you with a Studio Marketing Planner Guide. This is something we use in our MAP Program and workshops. It has several pages to help guide you as well and a calendar in the back with reminders when to start planning different events. Download your copy here – XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

#17. Rebrand. Has it been a while since you branded yourself? Does your logo look amateur or out of date? Is your brand colors old and dated? Do you just need a facelift to give your brand a new snap to grab people’s attention again? What a great time to get back to a look that you can be excited about again. And when you’re excited? You’re motivated. When you’re motivated, it’s contagious. It gives you that drive that maybe you’ve been missing.

#18. Fund Raisers – During recovery, there are bound to be a few community fundraisers or silent auctions to help people in need. How can you help or participate?

#19. Social Media – Remain active and post regularly to social media sites. Consider offering a “how-to” class on taking better pictures with your smartphone. And favorite apps to add some creativity to your shots. Have a simple photo contest to maximize interaction. Make it fun.

#20. PR Kits – Everyone needs an impact piece. This is a packet that keeps selling you after a sales pitch or introduces you before a sales pitch. It also demonstrates you are a professional and are serious about what you do and are here to stay.

The core of this is an 8×11 studio-branded folder complete with your logo and design. It can be customized with the message you are trying to convey. It can hold brochures, flat cards, sample images, a personalized note, a piece about the studio, testimonials on a professionally designed form, a business card, tips for the type of photography they are interested in and anything else that gives you the professional image that sets you apart from the competition.

These are a must for sports photographers, commercial photographers, wedding photographers, senior photographers, dance school photographers and any product line you specialize in. The best part is you can use just the one branded studio folder and by inserting the materials dedicated to who your contact is will give you a very effective and affordable power piece.

#21. Connect with your professional Photography organizations such as PPA or your state affiliation. All these groups have social media pages and the ability to start new topic threads to communicate ideas together. We can all learn what’s working or not working very quickly by supporting and sharing with one another.

Of course, Marathon and many professional labs offer excellent product and service options to many of the ideas shared. You have support all around. Feel free to contact me with anything you might have questions about at Markw@marathonpress.net.