This is a guest blog by Blair Phillips, a national award winning high school senior photographer and educator located just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina in the economically deprived “Mill Town” of Landis. With over 40 weddings and 600 studio session a year, Blair Phillips Photography has taken little and turned it into a lot because of determination and unique marketing. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter.
The internet is a wonderful thing. It brought us the ability to educate ourselves further than we could imagine, immediately connect with the rest of the world’s population and keep up to date with global trends. What it also did is change how photographers connect with potential high school senior clients almost overnight.
The “Net Generation” have grown up with the internet so they’ve never had to write a letter or even read a newspaper. Instead, they communicate with the world through email, instant messaging and numerous social media outlets. The fact of the matter is that this is here to stay and it’s our job as professionals to use it to our advantage.
A couple of years ago, we decided to send out about 10,000 mailers to all the seniors in our area letting them know that they didn’t have to get boring photos made at the high school. The entire send out cost us about $5,000, which was easily our largest advertising cost in the history of our studio. Now, I’m sure your wondering, “How many Seniors did you book with that mail out?”
That’s right, five seniors. Needless to say, we threw away a lot of money for nothing. Now, several years later, we average around 300-400 high school seniors a year and the best thing is that we don’t spend a dime on getting them here!
Facebook, of course, is one of our main avenues for reaching and contacting our high school seniors because it’s free and there are over 500 millions users. Now, we don’t simply update our status every other day in hopes seniors will “Like” our fan page. We always try to be a little more creative so, we have been utilizing our HD video capable DSLR to produce short, to the point videos that visually share information to our seniors rather than using text posts. When we recently launched our 2012 Senior Ambassador program, not only did we post a teaser video to our wall for all of our high school senior fans to see but we also sent prospect Ambassadors a link to our Vimeo account where they could watch a password protected video giving them details about being a Senior Ambassador, what we have to offer and what’s in it for them. The “Exclusive” password protected video helped reiterate the fact that our Ambassador program is very selective and it helps make the senior feel even more “chosen.”
Creating the video is simple but there are some things to keep in mind when producing it. You can’t just sit a camera up on a tripod, say a couple of lines and expect 300 seniors to come pouring in the doors. A video, especially geared toward a high school senior, must have plenty of movement and stay around 2 minutes long, if not shorter. The attention span of a high school senior is rather short these days so anything longer than 2 minutes is usually never finished, especially if it’s just a talking head. Incorporate some filler shots and footage to help fill in the gaps and to help maintain their attentions.
Another tip when creating videos where seniors are targeted is be very specific. Don’t try to cover 3 or 4 different programs in one video. Create 3 or 4 separate videos that highlight each program separately. By having different videos for different purposes, we’ve been able to target a more specific audience much more effectively, without throwing too much at them all at once.
Also, if you direct your video toward seniors, make sure that in the video you tell them to let mom and dad watch the video as well. You want to be completely transparent to the parents because after all, they’re paying for the photos. The last thing you want to happen is to come off as a creep and loose a potential senior client.
At the end of the video, we ask that they talk to mom and dad, then call the studio to set up a time for a consultation. The consultation is the deal maker because it then becomes real. They see the studio, meet the staff and begin to visualize their photos months before we actually do the shoot. We’ve never had someone watch the video, come in for a consultation and not book their session!
Most likely, you have some sort of video camera and editing software like Final Cut Express or even iMovie so why not take a stab at it. All it costs is your time.
Check out our Senior Ambassador video. Use the following password: radio
Do you already use video in your marketing? What have you found works best for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. One lucky commenter will win Blair Phillips’s Workflow DVD, a $129 value! Winner announced on April 22, 2011. GO!