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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Do you do offer Black Friday specials?
Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 7:12 PM on 11.24.11
->> Just curious if any of you have had Black Friday sales for your photography business. I've tried it the past few years with not so much as a nibble. What have your tried? Be it discounts on portrait packages, gift certificates, prints, no shipping... What worked? All the major retailers and small business do it, how about photographers here.
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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 7:35 PM on 11.24.11
->> We ran one 2 yrs ago for 40% off our online print sales (weddings) and it brought in about 1200 in the two days we offered it. Last year I switched to Zenfolio...and they didnt really have a way to do it....although now they do.

I have essentially the same specials running for tomorrow again to see if it'll work. Also deals on bookings, and other add ons....as well as ad space in the bridal magazine I publish.

Fingers crossed
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Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 9:30 PM on 11.24.11
->> I wouldn't do it. It teaches people to wait unti black Friday.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 10:42 PM on 11.24.11
->> Delane ... Not quite so in the world of retail ... If that were true, the rest of the world is getting it all wrong ... Granted some will wait and see ... But sales are a great way to entice fence sitters into action. The main idea of Black Friday sales is not for the customer to put off buying until then, it is to get the customers to buy here on Black Friday rather than at a competitor. Rest assured, while many retailers will have much higher sales on that day, they still do a pretty good business the other 364 days of the year.

The trick is to never offer quite the same deal twice ... That way customers can't plan on getting the same exact deal each time you run a special.

I prefer a buy one (or whatever quantity you prefer) ... Get another copy free rather than a set percentage off ... This reinforces your every day price, yet gives a reward to the customer if they act now without hurting your expenses in a major negative manner. Another sale that has worked for me is offering either a free or substantially discounted sitting fee if you schedule your sitting to be shot within a specified time period, or receive extra bonus prints with the purchase of a specified package ...

There are plenty of ways to bump sales without cutting your throat in the process or inhibiting sales throughout the rest of the year.
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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 11:44 PM on 11.24.11
->> Delane, that just isnt reality for the way people shop.

Just look at your tv/newspaper and you'll see overwhelming evidence that it works...and that all those businesses customers still dont seem to have "learned" that particular lesson you fear is being taught.

Lets face it. Photography isn't a wait till black friday sort of thing. If its a wedding you need it at the wedding..senior portraits...etc etc etc. The things you put "on sale" also kind of dictate the situation. Do what makes sense...for me, I've got tons of wedding images that have essentially been online all thru 2011...they have had ample chance to purchase...yet many have not. Many will...merely because of this one day sale (or at least it has worked that way in the past) regardless....they werent gonna order at regular prices anyway, so there's really nothing to lose. Next years crop of wedding gallery visitors will be entirely different.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 7:13 AM on 11.25.11
->> Just got an email from Apple: "The event you've been waiting 364 days for."

Apparently people already have learned to wait. :)
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Michael Prengler, Photographer
Fairview | TX | USA | Posted: 11:44 PM on 11.26.11
->> G.J. was offering 2 for 1 lap dances in the other black friday thread... :)
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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 9:17 AM on 11.27.11
->> update....so far booked 2 weddings, sold one 2yr ad contract, and several hundred dollars in online print sales as a result.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 10:32 AM on 11.27.11
->> I'm with Delane on this.

Personally, I believe that discounts need to support the desired behavior you want from your clients all year long.

Brad, wouldn't you generate more profitable sales by putting the incentive on the front end rather than the back? In other words, % off if you purchase within 30 days of the event? I would think your audience would be more captive within the first 30 days than they would 3-6 months later.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 12:43 PM on 11.27.11
->> Black Friday is a challenge for a small businessperson. Why?

For one thing, the amount of competition for the consumer's attention is daunting. Virtually every big box of every size and description is advertising - a LOT. Second, there's more money lost in retail between the hours of now midnight to 1pm on lost leaders. If the true total was known, it would choke a horse (In other words, you can't buy a 42" LCD wholesale for $199 - those are true lost leaders. In other words, the initial surge for Black Friday is very much price point driven and it's expensive to cut thru the clutter. In my other business, I'll spend well over $2000 in advertising to cut thru the clutter, and some of it was booked last December for positioning.

It's not impossible to do, however. It will take planning, understanding the market, understanding who your target group is, and then testing and executing the plan.

Great story on how Macy's kicked butt on BF in the WSJ. The link is here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203764804577060590227419360.h...

If you have any question, feel free to email me. It's doable Clark, but not by accident.
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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 4:33 PM on 11.27.11
->> Kevin...you are assuming (wrongly as most assumptions are) that we dont already do this....this is just gravy pure and simple...its sales where there would have been none. The eager beavers ordered right after the events....and really, what difference does it make if you added an incentive the week after or at years end..the net result is a sale. Your argument really holds no water. The desired behavior is to purchase something...everything we do...all year long is designed to move the client toward that end.

For a photography business, it is NOT hard, nor complicated. Systems are in place already for most of us that actually do this for a living. You just need to get off the couch and do something. There really is no competition in most areas for BF deals like this. AFAIK, I'm the only one in the area that has done this. Its been successful both times. The notion of BF puts people in the buying mode...the find a deal mode. Ok...give em one. How hard is that? Its not rocket science.

You can run a loss leader (not lost leader btw). Just pick any product you are willing to accept a loss on the sale for. Typically its one that is of high perceived value and wants....the "loss" is simply factored into the cost of running the ad. For electronics stores...they need to get you in the door..plain n simple. The salepersons job is to upgrade you from there into a more profitable item.....

unfortunately...most of the "loss leaders" these days seem to be "crap leaders" as they are not offering a good tv at that price, its a total POS you'd never have considered buying at any other time. I dont like that sort of ad. But if they offered a decent model at a loss (as some still do) then its good marketing.

Bottom line...how much does it cost to bring one customer into your store. Its a math equation. One that has been seriously analyzed by the retail industry for years. One they have perfected. For us....its not so complicated. We have client contact info already...we can market our BF deals to them. Now we can advertise cheaply on FB or our blogs and create a buying event where none existed simply with a few keystrokes.....

But hey, if its not for you, no problem. I kinda like not having every photog in town running bf deals :-)
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 6:53 PM on 11.27.11
->> heh... yeah.. loss leaders ( I need to start proof reading..) ...although Brad, you have to admit, the people that buy most of that garbage look lost...

Seriously, Brad is right - easiest way to make good things happen is to market to your existing customer base. They've bought from you in the past, so they are the best prospects to buy from again. None of the local photographers with studios around here promote on BF that I'm aware of.

Brad, are you just using email and sending them one day only offers?

The one reason photographers should promote that day is that EVERYONE expects a hot deal, but the reality is that what it really does is set off a perception in the mind of consumers.

If no photographer is promoting on BF, you have a golden opportunity. The key is to talk to people most likely to buy your product ( previous customers) and people most like your customer base.

Make the offer attractive and make it short term - no more than 3 days. Follow up with additional offers for the next four weeks. These offers should be attractive - and profitable.

That, my friends, is how the big boys do it. Get you into the store and make sure you buy something in addition to the bait. Trust me, it works far more often than not.

M
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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 9:39 PM on 11.27.11
->> I send an email to everyone that has registered to view my online galleries (zenfolio makes this a snap). I post on my blog and on FB pages.....so my out of pocket for the ad is zip. Did the same thing on the bridal magazine ad....didnt get a huge response, but it took a couple that had been considering it over the edge.....the "deal" they got, was a bit better, but it appeared very good. (bogo w a 2yr contract)

We can all learn from what the big boys do in business...marketing...advertising..structuring the sales..etc etc.

Look at Macy's....king of the "one day sale". Yet...somehow they manage to sell stuff on all the other days they are open :-)
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 11:55 PM on 11.27.11
->> Interesting conversation so far. My comment is directed as loss leaders.

The purpose of loss leaders is to get buyers into the store so they can 'see' other merchandise and make impulse buys. When I worked at K-Mart in my youth we put our sale items toward the middle of the store not toward the front so customers would pass by other merchandise they might want to buy.

The challenge in doing online sales and creating a similar experience is getting the site visitor to 'pass by' other items (or services) on one's online site either before checking out or while making their selections. The loss leader scenario works well because multiple senses are stimulated. Online, for the most part only one, visual, is primarily used. The Tiger Direct site makes a decent effort at it, but I don't think it is that effective.

As I was typing this, there was a Wal-mart commercial that announced free shipping during ~ Cyber Week ~ It seems that Cyber Monday is now on its way to becoming passe.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 6:56 AM on 11.28.11
->> Brad - Wasn't assuming anything. Just going with the information you provided. Sorry if I insulted you.

Just put me down as one that agrees with Delane and we'll leave it at that.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:07 AM on 11.28.11
->> Clark,
You want to approach it slightly differently imho. Blasting out a loss leader by itself will impact you negatively.

One example of how to approach it: 50% is what the customer sees when you advertise 50% off second 16x20. I get offers from PPA vendors almost every day. Tying into vendor offers is a obvious solution. If a vendor is offering bogo then you can as well.

If it was me, I'd look at the customer base and on BF maybe offer three specials. You can take the approach that they hit different markets, or have them step margin wise from low margin to average margin and then high margin. The trick is to get the blend right so that your overall margin doesn't get torpedoed. Offer several more, paying particular attention to the last week to 10 days before Christmas. This is when panic usually starts to set in.

Compared to last fiscal year, we're slightly behind in sales, but our margin is up several points - and our expenses are down. The result is we're making more profit.

One last promotional opportunity: The week between Christmas and New Years. There's lots of Christmas cash out there.

In my other business, we run a promotion that targets those shoppers. Many years, that week has saved my butt.

You have to work December hard... but it is usually worth it.
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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 1:28 PM on 11.28.11
->> Online loss leaders are a bit different, as there isnt any catchy displays or skilled salespeople to upsell the clients to a higher end product.

You could however, run a special with a limited number of XXX (whatever your loss leader product was).

for ex....if you shot sports all year...offer a "fathead" at 49.00 (a loss) but limit it to the first 3 orders. The clients hopefully....will all log on and now start thinking about you and your products once again..and hopefully other sales will result in addition to the 3 clients that actually got the "deal". You could also offer an upgrade to a larger fathead for an additional fee (that now covered the costs) and an even larger one (that now made a profit)....

its all in how you structure your deal. Be creative. Be smart. Be profitable....but remember not every item has to be a profit in order for the campaign to be profitable.


@Kevin, no worries mate...its just basic business and marketing. You'll see pretty quickly those that have a strong retail selling/marketing background and those that dont. Lots of photographers are not really great in business and marketing...even though they may be fantastic photographers. Every effort you put into marketing..and becoming more knowledgeable in business and marketing strategies the better for the health of your business.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 5:09 PM on 11.28.11
->> Brad is exactly right-when he wrote:

"Lots of photographers are not really great in business and marketing...even though they may be fantastic photographers. Every effort you put into marketing..and becoming more knowledgeable in business and marketing strategies the better for the health of your business."


When I was a Polaroid tech rep a zillion years ago, it didn't take long to realize that the guys making the serious money weren't always the best photographers. This is why you see me telling the young ones to take business courses. That will dictate as much - if not more so as one's photography skill whether you are ultimately successful. No business skills is like a knife at a gun fight. You're dead.

Brad's examples are just a valid as mine - that's the great thing about marketing - more than one approach will and does work. The key: DO SOMETHING - which takes us full circle to Clark's original post. You could do the Fathead, and then the 50% off and then sitting fee of just $xx. By being consistent in your advertising approach, one also builds up top of mind awareness. And that's what you really want - to be the first one they think think of when they thing of photographers.

Can you give away something below cost? Of course. As Brad's example (and most Black Friday ads illustrate) - you can limit quantities. The other secret is to learn how much of something you can sell at a low percentage, medium percentage and high percentage. That's my strength in my other business - I'm pretty darn good at getting the "blend" right - and I look very aggressive and yet know how to be profitable.

Funny thing is, the model works for all kinds of products.

M
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Thread Title: Do you do offer Black Friday specials?
Thread Started By: Clark Brooks
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