Thursday, December 24, 2009

Business Day Thursday: Still Delivering Family Portraits Right Up To Christmas - Even Though You Haven't Shot Them Yet

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Stocking 2 - iStock_000004531222XSmall I hope you stockings are hung by the chimney with care, for tonight is the night we hope Saint Nick will soon be there. Hey gang, I hope you are finding a little time to relax over this Holiday Season.  For the past several years, once we got our Christmas delivery schedule better organized, we have always closed the studio between Christmas and New Years. 

The staff spends time with family and friends that week and we run a very light schedule around here checking the phone messages twice a day, tidying up after the rush, and just mostly "just "playing with our toys" after Christmas ;~)  Hope you get to do a bit of the same.

I'm wrapping this week with a Business Day Thursday that you might be able to use for next year.  Here we go...

Business Day Thursday: Still Delivering Family Portraits Right Up To Christmas - Even Though You Haven't Shot Them Yet

OK, what am I talking about here?  So many times photogs shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to sales.  Count me in that number years ago.  We know how long it takes to shoot a portrait, have the client see the results and choose a favorite.  Now we have to get it printed, framed, and delivered before Christmas. 

As we get closer to the holidays and maybe a bit more greedy, we continue to book appointments closer and closer to Christmas.  That doesn't seem like much of a problem till it comes times to show, sell, and deliver those images.  That's what can make Christmas rush such a downer.

How about offering your clients an alternative to the actual portrait that still helps you make the portrait sale, but really takes some of the stress out of making those deliveries at the last minute. Don't get me wrong - you are still going to make a holiday delivery to the client, but this time, it's going to be in the form of a "proxy portrait."

Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

Now don't get me wrong here, that's just the term I'm using here, not to the client.  For the client, we may call it a "Portrait in a Box."  Lot's of retailers offer the "famous" gift certificates that many of us receive over the holidays and then put them in a drawer sometimes to be long forgotten about.  But this idea is different.

Here is what we do.  We talk with the client about their photographic needs - family portrait, baby portrait parent album from a wedding, whatever, and then introduce them to our "Portrait In A Box" idea.  We ask them to put down a deposit for the family portrait, parent's wedding album, or any other product we offer and then create our "Portrait In A Box."

BAgs and Bows See, here is the deal - delivering a "gift certificate" or "gift card" just doesn't say Merry Christmas like something more substantial at gift giving time. Our "Portrait In A Box" is assembled with a box we get from Bags and Bows [link].

We fill the box with some very nice gold tissue paper and then add a very sophisticated "gift certificate" to the tissued box.  Add the clear cover, rub gently and quickly with a cotton cloth - this will cause enough static electricity on the plastic lid to attract the card certificate inside - yes, it does work.  Add the bow and you have a beautiful gift presentation that you get to deliver to your client that makes a nice statement about your studio and the classy product you will be delivering in the near future after the holiday rush.

I just did the same thing earlier this week for a client, but in this case, it was a two parent's albums for my bride.  Between both of our schedules, we were not able to get together in time for her to select her wedding images for herself or her family.

She really wanted to give family albums to the parents for Christmas though.  I suggested a "Family Album In A Box."  She loved the idea.  I had Jennifer, my studio manager, print up one of my favorite wedding images, add the note that this box represented a beautiful parent's album would be coming after the holidays. 

We packaged it up with a beautiful gold bow and I just delivered it to my client last Friday.  She was thrilled with what we delivered. 

Portrait In A Box The holidays are a time of the year when, so many times, clients can be disappointed because we can't make some kind of Christmas deadline. That's just the nature of the business.  It's always our goal to make ALL those disappointments go away and our "Portrait In A Box" is a perfect idea to do just that.

Think how many other ways you can use this same idea and why not share them with our readers in the comments section below.  Remember, 20 our more suggestions from at least 20 DPT readers and I'll award a $50 B&H gift certificate to the idea my staff and I like the best.

Hey everybody, Merry Christmas Eve. Tomorrow, I'll offer my Holiday wishes to all of our DPT readers but then I'm taking the rest of the day off to be with family and friends.  I hope you get a chance to do the same.   

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!  -David


  1. Pretty similar to your idea: you could sell gift certificates for e.g. a family portrait shoot. The purchaser pays up-front and gets one of these beautiful boxes that they can give to the family they intend it for. Inside it'll say something like 'good for one family portrait session and 1 print at whatever-by-whatever dimensions'. Then when the family comes in to get their shots, and subsequently proof them, you can upsell them on more shots.

  2. follow-up to my above comment:

    You could even make those boxes in bulk (tastefully, of course) for display in a storefront. It's a quick, painfree gift to pickup because it involves no more effort on the purchaser's behalf than any other gift would entail. The rest is up to the receiving person/family.

  3. We sent a number of "gifts" to past portrait clients to give to their friends. The "gift" was nothing more then a well presented and personalized certificate for a free portrait session. We also included a discount coupon for them to use on their next visit

  4. I am going to incorporate this into my "Silent Auction" Photo basket. I am new to the business, but I like to donate to some charities. Lately, I started donating portrait packages for auctions and raffles. The charities end up with a profitable donation, in some cases more than the check I would have written. In the basket, I put a gift certificate for a session, a small photo album and a frame or two. I am going to use your gift wrapping idea to wrap my gift certificate. Thanks!