Thursday, June 11, 2009

Business Day Thursday: New Contest Announced - $50 Gift Card From B&H and 12 Ways To Keep Your Clients Coming Back For More

Good afternoon everybody,
Hey gang, sorry for the late post yesterday - I was in "slow-motion" most of the day. It's also kind of weird sitting here and NOT typing ...."We had a crowd.... and we are heading to....". What's happening instead - writer's block - just kidding.

LaDawn and I are going to go over our DWUC notes and see if we can put even more polish on the program for the fall. The most important thing that needs to happen over the next few days is to select our second DWUC GRAND Prize winner. Since we have a little time off I'll get everyone caught up on our first winner, Judy from PA, so stay tuned. Keep your fingers crossed if you were in attendance, you might be selected as the second GRAND Prize Winner

OK, now on with the good stuff. I'm announcing a new contest today for all my Digital ProTalk readers. The prize is a $50 gift certificate from B&H Photo and Video - WOW! Want to find out what's it all about? Then hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story. Today's Business Day Thursday is really a good one - you're going to love it!

Here we go.

12 Ways To Keep Your Clients Coming Back For More
At my Master Class a few weeks ago, one of the attendees, Frank Wilson, shared with us a great business building idea. It has to do with gift cards. We all receive them, many of us give them, but most of us never consider them as a business building tool for our businesses. It turns out, it could be one of the best tools we could utilize in today's economy.

Here is how Frank uses the "Gift Card" concept in his business. A potential wedding client comes into Frank's studio and meets with him about the possibility of his studio shooting the wedding. As we all know, many times the client will book on the spot. But, many more will not and say they have to go home and think about it before making a final decision.

OK, sounds like the same situation many of us face every week. How does Frank make it different and "up the odds" of the client calling him back? He gives a $50 to $100 gift card to every client that interviews with him - whether they book with him that day or decide to think about it.

I asked him, "So, how many come back and book their wedding with you?" Frank's reply, "About all of them." And why shouldn't they? He put a $100 bill in their back pocket that they can only spend at his studio. The $100 gift card is good towards a portrait session - outdoors, indoors, bridal, engagement, family, etc.

Folks, what a strong incentive this must be for Frank's clients to come back to his studio. It's an invitation for them to do business with him. Thumbs up on a great idea Frank!!

Now let's take the concept even further. What else can we use these gift cards for increasing business?

Here is a quick list of 12 possibilities:
1. Booking bonuses - If the client books with you within say 3 days, they will receive a $100 gift card. This could work great for photogs displaying at the annual wedding shows.

2. Give it as a "Thank You" for doing business with you. Make it good for any future portrait sessions for that client.

3. Offer it to the client that they can give as a gift to additional family members and/or friends. We you deliver the wedding album, family portraits, high school senior pics - why not include
3 $50 gift cards they can give to their friends. Now your client becomes your envoy to even more business.

4. At silent auctions where we offer a family portrait to help raise funds for a charity event, why not give the top 5 bidders a $100 gift card. Heck, they placed a bid, showed interest in your work, now they too have an incentive to give you a call.

5. Ever been asked to contribute to a fund raising event - why not make the donation a gift card or two.

6. Why not carry a few on you at all times (like at weddings) - you never know when the occasion will arise when you could offer it to a prospective client.

Where can you get these gift cards? Glad you asked. Just head over to my buddies at Marathon Press to find out how to design and order your own personal gift cards. Here is the link.

Here are 6 more ideas I picked up over at Marathon Press:
7. Send a $100 gift card to new parents to spend on the "first chapter" of their child's portrait history.

8. Enroll clients in a "lifetime portrait program," for which no session fees are charged as long as they present the card.

9. Send a birthday or anniversary greeting and enclose a gift card.

10. Send high school senior prospects a gift card to spend on their senior portraits.

11. And one of my favorites - During the holiday season advertise a "gift card sale" that allows your clients to purchase a $100 gift card for only $80; a $200 gift card for only $160 . . . and so on.

12. Announce the sale by sending a gift card to your own client list.

You get the idea. What are some of your ideas for increasing business using a gift card? If we get more than 20 different ideas in the comments section below, I'll give the winner of the best idea a $50 gift card from B&H Photo and Video.

I'll let the contest run 2 weeks and post our winner in an upcoming Business day Thursday post. Put on those "thinking caps" and crank them up to "high". I can't wait to see what you view your ideas and marketing suggestions.

OK,gang, I'm out of here. I'll plan to see everybody tomorrow for another episode of "You Light Up My Life Friday" - See ya' then. -David


  1. Give a gift card when a previous client refers someone who becomes a client and purchases a package.

    Give them to high school coaches and drama club teachers with an offer to photograph their students in action with the option to purchase a softcover album. This could have multiple album sales because once others see the album they and their parents will want one too. And add an incentive to purchase the album by giving a gift card for a future portrait sitting. Include space for the kids to write something to the coach too. Don't think just football... La Cross, swimming (diving), track & field, basketball, baseball, clubs & events. Could also include posters or small brag books, locker magnets.

  2. When events ask for donations for door prizes give gift cards in different amounts to your studio, for seniors, families or baby portraits.

  3. Send a gift card for a free Christmas Portrait session to all wedding clients for the current year. It's a great way to keep in touch with them.

    I've also been considering a gift card for a free 1st Anniversary Portrait session.

  4. Clients can earn a gift card to apply to their next order if they get 10 people to comment on their portraits on your blog.

  5. well, my idea is since photography is all about preserving the special moments that make up our lives, You can at each session give them a card for the next chapter in their lives or milestones.
    Examples would be for a wedding client give a card for $100 on Maternity session, then at their Maternity session give them a newborn card, then at that session a childs first birthday. you get the point.
    it keeps them always coming back to you for all their special moments throughout their entire lives.

  6. Give some to various vendors (caterers, wedding planners, djs, etc) that you've developed a relationship with so that they can pass them on to clients they encounter.

    Send them out to families on Mother's day, encouraging kids to give mom a really special gift - a portrait of themselves. It could work for Father's Day and even Christmas.

  7. Give a gift card when a client makes a minimum order of Prints. For example, give a $25 gift card when a client orders $250.00 or more. Give a $50.00 gift card when a client orders $400.00 or more.

  8. Offer a different business card each month as an online raffle prize. People can earn entries by friending your Facebook business page, suggesting you as a friend to others who then "friend" you. Same thing for Twitter. The more they help with free viral advertising, the more entries they earn!

  9. The better the the package ordered, the higher the gift card they will receive towards there next session. This will encourage clients to step up their order. Also, I would put a year expiration date on the card so my client wouldn't be tempted to sit on it for to long.

  10. Partner with a florist for a major "flower" holiday -- valentines day, mothers day, etc. Design a special gift card that promotes the florist, and offers the value as a "thank you" for using your services. The gift card is the same size as the message envelope, and goes inside with the card.

    When the delivery is made -- everyone looks good. The florist impresses a client, the recipient gets added value, and the whole thing looks like part of the gift, which I would hope would make it more likely to be used.

  11. First, I'd like to recommend a book, Yes by Howard Goldstein. I reviews psychological tendencies of people and explains how they can be used to increase or close sales.

    One particular anecdote comes close to this discussion of gift cards. He talks about loyalty cards and cites experiments where some recipients got cards that were blank (buy 5 get one) and some were partially filled in (buy 7 get one, but starting with a credit for 2).

    With regard to professional photography, rather than promising existing clients something for a referral (thus starting with zero) promise something for two referrals, but give them credit for one (the job they gave you already). Then tell them they're half-way to the prize and need "just one more".

    Differential cost to a studio is zero, but improved results are likely.

  12. As a second comment, I'm always annoyed as a consumer when I win a prize that costs me money. A gift card to a studio is useless unless I pay for the professional services.

    If a charity needs a gift, give a card that promises to make one free 8x10 print of the winner's choice. Accept the image via email, but make them come in to get it. You might sell them a mat and frame to go with it. At that time, give them a gift card with a discount offer.

    Sure, it costs a bit (and you might want to make the picture better with some simple editing) but it will establish the winner as an existing customer rather than as a possibly unhappy winner.

  13. Give your "partners" (the florist, cater, etc.) cards to hand-out to their clients. Creates a stronger partner bond and swings more business your way.

    Also, (tongue-in-cheek) you could hand-out cards to folks for coming up with new marketing ideas.

  14. Hi David,
    Frank Wilson here. Thanks a bunch for the post about my gift cards, as they continue to do wonders for me. Another way I use my gift cards is in my bridal gift registry. When I book the client, I ask them to include me on their gift registry and to let their guest know that. When a guest registers with me, there is a $50 minimum, I will send my client a confirmation that $50 has been applied to their account from Mr. or Mrs. John Doe. Mr. or Mrs. John Doe would get a $50 gift card from Frank Wilson Photography for a portrait session or maybe images from the wedding. It's a win-win situation. Mr. or Mrs. John Doe gets credited for a gift to the bride and groom and in turn, they get a gift also. The bride and groom has $50 less to pay on their account or apply it to a package upgrade. How about that for a $3.00 piece of plastic.....Harry Potter Magic! Thanks again David.

  15. Partner with a local interior decorator or realtor and offer them gift cards to "gift" their clients with as a thank you. They get the credit (which they will love) but you get the clients in your target market when they redeem the cards.