The holidays are almost upon us and that means a flurry of gift purchasing and holiday discounts from companies large and small.  It also means that photographers want in on a piece of this holiday purchasing mayhem…but be careful as there are some major pitfalls that you will want to avoid if you run a boutique photography studio.

Let’s start with Gift Certificates….

I get a handful of inquiries each year, of people looking to purchase pet photography for a friend.  They often want to purchase the session for their friend, but the problem is that my sessions don’t come with any products.  When they gift the “session fee” to their friend, their friend may not value photography enough to invest anywhere near my session average and will often leave the sales appointment frustrated that they couldn’t purchase what they wanted or upset that they had to spend money to actually get anything for their “gift”.  This is an uncomfortable position for everyone…and not one I’m willing to be in ever again.

Therefore, I will not sell a gift certificate for only the session fee.  Ever.  Well, there is one exception, and that is for a husband or wife purchasing it for their spouse.  So long as I can talk to them and they are aware of what things actually cost, I’m happy to sell a session fee gift certificate to them.

If someone wants to purchase a gift certificate for a friend, I price those at a $575 minimum.  That is $175 for my session fee and a $400 product credit.  That is enough that the receiver of the certificate can still get a small album, an album block, a small wall piece, or a handful of prints.  This also protects my time and ensures that I will not do 10 hours of work for zero return. 

Granted, this policy means that I don’t sell many gift certificates…but I’m ok with that.  In my opinion gift certificates are often uncomfortable because even if the recipient has lots of disposable income, if they don’t appreciate photography everyone is frustrated. 

That is also why I do not advertise the availability of gift certificates.  It just brings too many opportunities for creating poor client matches. 

“But Nicole, I need to get more revenue into my business!  I was planning on marketing gift certificates to do so!”

Ok, I hear you!  Let’s talk about the best ways to drive more revenue into your business during these last few weeks of the year.

What NOT to do: 

Offer a discounted session price or product price as a Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotion.

Offering a straight dollar or percentage off your services devalues your brand and trains potential clients to wait for a sale.  Instead, offer a value-add incentive. 

What to do:

“Book a 2018 session and receive a complimentary ‘specific product with only one image so you aren’t giving away the farm’.”

“Secure your 2018 session now and your session fee will be applied to your order as a product credit.”

This will help you bring in some clients and revenue, without shooting yourself in the foot and venturing down the unprofitable trail.  No one likes the unprofitable trail.

For clients that have already had their session this year…

Another easy way to add a bit of revenue from work that is already completed is to create a special offer for prints, digital files, or special products like ornaments for the holidays. 

Again, we don’t want to offer a $ or % discount.  Simply email your clients from the current year and let them know that you are offering 2 for 1 prints, 3 digitals for the price of 2, or a special product for a limited time only.

If you really want to make it more profitable, this special is only for previously ordered images….that means there is NO work for you other than fulfilling the order.  🙂 

I hope these strategies bring you a little Christmas cheer…and pad your bottom line as you close out 2017.  If you found this helpful and want to go pedal to the metal on your business in 2018, consider joining myself and Terran Bayer at the Hair of the Dog Retreat in our beach house on the Gulf Coast of Florida this February.  You know you want to…