A good senior program can really boost your sales throughout the summer and fall months each year. With a few helpful tips and the right timing, you'll be booking up your schedule in no time.
Senior sessions are unique, because unlike children, they are both the consumer and the customer. When children are younger, the parent is both the consumer (enjoying and utilizing the purchase) and the customer (making the actual purchase). With seniors, they are old enough to have their say about the actual purchase, and they are the one who will do a good portion of the enjoying and utilizing of the pictures too. This transition can be smooth, but more often than not, parents (being the true customer who is making the payment) have a difference of opinion with their teen. Knowing these boundaries are blurred, it can be difficult to please everyone.
I have found that it is wise to market to teens and shoot for parents. This way, you get the sessions booked, but the results are something any parent would love to buy. Of those portraits, the teen will have a selection of favorites that the parent will feel comfortable with. During the pre-session consultation, explain to the parent and the teen that wardrobe choices and poses should be age appropriate, and something that they both agree on before the session date arrives.
In your marketing, as you are targeting teens, use a wide range of personalities, skin tones, hair colors and sets in your materials. Keep it fresh, funky, playful and young. Keep in mind that you are marketing to juniors, not seniors. By the time a student's senior year has begun, their senior portrait deadline is likely to be past. Most school yearbooks require portrait submissions the summer before the senior year. So the sooner you get your clients in the door, the better.
It's one thing to be late on a term paper, but when it comes to your senior marketing schedule, you can't afford to fall behind your schedule. Aim to get your marketing designed by mid March of every year. It should be ordered in April and distributed in May. Ideally, this will put your marketing posters and postcards in schools in late spring before the school year ends for the summer. Then you have a few months before the yearbook deadlines come up. You will want to be clear in your pre-session consultation regarding your ordering process and how long that will take, based on the various products and quantities a client might want.
A referral program is a great way to fill up your senior schedule for the coming year. Include referral cards in your orders and ask clients to refer juniors during their senior year in the fall and spring. You can offer them a complimentary set of wallet sized portraits for every session booked, or a Starbucks gift card. Whatever you think will get them to refer a friend or two. If you do this for every senior client, you will be amazed at how well this can work.
These guidelines will help you get your senior program up and running, and keep it thriving year in and year out.