Category: Business Surgery

Business Surgery #1 ‘Exposure’

We recently had this query in our inbox

“I have recently been contacted by my local council registration office. They are looking at trying to set up some mother and baby photoshoots, which is obviously a great opportunity for me to get my name out there. Apparently, there are lots of photographers from around the area being involved as they are trying to come up with the best way of going about holding the sessions.

They register around 4000 babies a year and I really don’t want to miss out on being their photographer! They would like to know how they can raise money from the sessions more than anything else, how much they would earn etc! I am under the impression that they would like to take a percentage. I had thought of doing the sessions for free and them charging however much they decide and keeping the profits? As I am happy with the free advertising. They would like to hold at least one session a month and would be sending out leaflets with each family that came to register their baby.

Would it be best to offer the shoot above a certain age, I won’t be able to pose a newborn in ten minutes! And I would need some sort of contract? I wanted to maybe come up with some sort of questionnaire to send to around 20 of my past clients to see if they would be interested in this sort of thing, how much they would pay what they would expect from their shoot etc? Do you think this is a good idea? I’m not sure how I would let them choose their images, the sessions would be coming from 4 separate towns, whether we decide to hold the shoot in one town or in each separate place? How would I give them their images, would they collect from me or have to charge them postage on top, or would digitals be best for something like this?

I have never done anything like this before, so have no idea what to offer them to make me stand out from the rest! I know they are going to be interested in the photographer that is willing to give away the most! “

Phew – there’s a boatload of issues and questions all rolled up into one dilemma here.  This is an interesting concept and one I’ve not seen a council offer before but let’s look at how this works.

The bottom line is the council want to generate some income from the audience of 4000 new parents that pass through it’s registration office each year.  They are going to give those parents a leaflet to let them know about a portrait service they can offer.

Firstly there will only be a % of those 4000 babies that are truly in your target market.  I would ask yourself if your target client is likely to take up an offer like this from the registration office.  If the answer to that is YES then it could be worthwhile pulling together an attractive proposal to take to the council.

There are probably only 2 options I would consider if my target market were likely to take up the offer.

  1. Offer to pay the council an ‘introducers’ fee and/or commission on sales.  You will need to discuss the details on how this would work and they might want to get involved in taking the enquiries/bookings in the initial stage.
  2. Create a special plan that offers 2 or 3 sessions during baby’s first year including a small product like a folio.  Offer this to council clients for a nominal sum like £29 which they can pay at the same time they register their baby.  The council keeps that £29 and you rely on selling at each session.  You need very tight ts &c’s if you are going to offer this.  For example, they have to make a purchase at each session before they can move onto the next one.  You also need strong sales skills.

Although you may think that you are being ‘exposed’ to a huge number of parents, the success of this relies entirely on the registrar pointing out the information to parents.  The last thing you want is to be tied into a loss making scheme that becomes a noose around your neck.  This is not a situation which justifies working for free – this is only worthwhile if you can make something from it.

If the council prefer to hold sessions once a month in their offices, I would ask is this definitely the type of photography you want to be tied into?  How are you going to turn these cut-price portraits into full paying clients for you.  Will the exposure result in you being known as the cheap council photographer and is that something you would want?

If this is the path that you would like to take then you are unlikely to be able to offer much in terms of posed shooting (most of the babies are going to be already 6 weeks old).   You might be better to offer a package of 3 digital files for a set price and split the takings with the council 50/50 but keep all of the client details and market to them for sitter sessions or cake smashes.

Good luck and we’d love to hear how you get on!

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