Using Contests to Boost Your Audience and Become Booked Solid
It should come as no surprise that people love to win free products and services or receive something at a heavily discounted rate. Tie that into the fact that many people enjoy a good ol' competition, and you have a winning combination for marketing success.
Or as my 4 year old likes to OVERsay... Winna Winna, Chicken Dinna!
I've personally used contests in the past at least once a season and let me tell you -- every single contest would add upwards of 1,000-1,500 people to the Facebook page and catapult bookings. The one that got the most traction was always the children’s portrait month.
Let me tell you a little story...
There once was a photography studio that went from having clients sporadically to completely filling their calendar within two weeks time. What would YOU be able to do with the income you generated from an entire month’s worth of clients, shoots, weddings, events, projects, etc.? That is the power of a contest, my friends.
Not knowing whether or not it would catch on and desperate to fill their calendar, the photographer threw her hands in the air and said, “Hell, why not give it a shot?”
After the contest was over and the results have been tallied, the photographer's audience had nearly tripled in size within just a month's time. The number of clients that continued to pour in became so large that the photographer had to start turning away business. Wouldn't that be an incredible feeling - to be so booked up and consistent that you were actually turning clients away or booking them out months and months in advance?
The Logistics of Contests
It was called Children’s Portrait Month and it happened during the entire month of July (a typically slow month for many). The weather is still nice, kids are out of school, it was a no-brainer.The photographer went through the calendar and selected dates that she would be willing to hold shoots. I would highly encourage you to add at least 2 or 3 Rainy Day Reschedule Days since it IS July we are talking about here... Each shoot would be 30 minutes long PER CHILD. If the parent(s) wanted to join in on the photos, it is an additional $50 to be paid at the time of session. The next step was to figure out the locations of those shoot days.
Tip: Create a PDF document of your dates and locations and timeframes to easily send to people or, better yet, post on your website and redirect people to the URL!
Now it was time for pricing and the fine print. The cost of the session should be MUCH lower than what your normal rates are. We are talking mini-session prices here, people.
As an example:
$50 sitting fee (per child)
50% off all print orders
(1) FREE 5x7 of each entrant
Ages 6 months to 10 years only please.
Grand Prize is valued at over $____ and includes:
$_____ gift certificate
20x24 gallery block
Winner is chosen based on the highest amount of likes/votes each entry photo receives on the Facebook page (This is where having a giveaway type website platform comes in handy like Rafflecopter, Gleam, or Woobox to name a few. Pay for it for a month then cancel it, but once you are using that platform you are able to have these people share the photo with their friends).
Discount pricing available August 1-31st, Voting begins August 11, The winner will be announced on August 18.
Example Contest Spreadsheet Tracker
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TO EASILY REFERENCE WHEN YOU ARE READY TO CREATE YOUR OWN CONTEST!
Once that was all figured out, it was time to create the flyer, social media graphic, and finalize the wording.
- Select dates
- Select locations
- Select time frame for each day
- Determine what the winner will receive
- Figure out pricing
- Create graphics and promo materials
Tip: Count up how many shooting locations you like to use in surrounding areas (expand your reach by expanding your radius) and then that will give you a good idea of how many days of shooting you should be including within the contest information.
Now that we've established why you should be running contests and promos within your wedding business, it's time to discuss the part that so many creatives get hung up on...
Well, luckily for you, my friend, I've not only broken holding a contest down into bite-size steps, but I've also provided suggestions of the kind of contests you could be holding!
- Favorite Engagement Session
- Favorite Wedding / Design
- Favorite Couple
- Favorite Unique Detail
- Favorite Theme
- Favorite Love Story
- Favorite Bouquet
- Favorite Overall Design
- Favorite Centerpieces
- Favorite Ceremony Decor
- Favorite Engagement Session
- Favorite Wedding of the Season
- Favorite Blooper Shot
- "First 25 that mention this post get a free engagement session"
I would say at least 1/2 of these people will hire you to shoot their wedding if they are looking for a photographer. AND if you need to build up your portfolio this is a perfect way to do it.
- Children’s Portrait Month
- Favorite Family Month
- Favorite Newborn Month
- Pet Portrait Month
You can always note that you will make a donation to the humane society from all the sitting fees during the pet portrait month.
Contests and giveaways aren't things people take advantage of very often. You shouldn’t just be giving a discount all the time to try to drum up busy. Highlight the giveaway on social media and send an email to your list of subscribers! You want to make sure to really showcase it. Holding a contest is a great way to beef up the calendar if you are looking for clients!
I’m Lauren, your wedding business visionary! I educate wedding pros on the behind the scenes of their businesses through practical knowledge and intuitive strategy. I incorporate my intuitive gifts with solid business strategy to maximize my clients' progress and success. Let’s set up a time to chat!