Have you been following along in this series on marketing your photography business through silent auctions? If this is your first post please click on the previous link and start at the beginning where you will learn how to choose the auctions with your target market, what to donate to the silent auction, and how to develop your display.
Legalities. They make my head spin. It’s best to check with your local laws but there are a few pointers that are applicable just about everywhere. A few states have laws stating that your certificate cannot expire for a year. While it is a bit of a grey area since these are not standard gift certificates, I simply make my certificates valid for a year. If I am donating items to fall events I may tack a few months on to the end so that I don’t have any certificates expiring in October since that is definitely my busiest month. I also make a note on my certificate that sessions generally book X number of weeks out throughout the year and X number of weeks during the popular fall months. If you do not want to add to your workload in your busy season you can always make a note of that on the certificate, such as this certificate is valid from January – August only. It is also a good idea to have a little fine print on your certificate stating this certificate has no cash value and cannot be redeemed for cash. Always a better idea to write that one out then test the legal system.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to close this series with a little note about customer service. It is imperative that you treat each and every auction winner with the same superior level of customer service that you use with your best client. Even if the client only chooses the items that you donated, if you treat them well they will sing your praises and they may run in a very connected circle. This remains true to the few occasions in which a certificate is purchased and given as a gift. These people can become very good promoters of your business so give them the full red carpet experience and soon you may be one of the photographers who markets on word of mouth alone!