The Problem with Giving Too Much Discounts when Your Need a Cash Boost
Here is what this episode is NOT – it’s not a long term plan for your business. Just doing these things over and over might bring you some inquiries but chances are it’s not what’s going to get your business to the $10k/month level (or beyond)
Because, I say this with love, if you’re constantly scrambling for the next booking and the next inquiry, my friend, that is a quick road to burnout. Building a long term marketing plan for my business was THE best thing I ever did (and that’s exactly what we teach inside of marketing school – and enrollment for marketing school is opening up again soon. If you want to join the waitlist, click HERE!
There are definitely seasons where a quick cash boost is needed, 100%! But don’t let that distract you from the LONG term marketing plans that will keep your business booked long term!
So now that we know these strategies aren’t a long term marketing plan isn’t going to be a regular thing, let’s get into some easy things you can do today to get inquiries, WITHOUT discounting.
“But Tavia, when I discount I book clients so easily so why can’t I discount if I need a quick cash injection?”
You can do whatever you want, it’s your business! But one thing I’ve noticed in my own business and working with hundreds of photographers is that discounting becomes this cycle that’s hard to break out of.
You want clients, so you offer a discount – just this one time right? What’s it going to hurt? You shoot those sessions, look up and no more inquiries. So you do some marketing things for a couple of weeks and try to get some full-paying clients. You might get 1 or 2, but you need money NOW.
So…you offer another discount.
Before you know it, your audience starts to expect discounts. Why would they buy full price when they know a discount will come around? It’s like Hobby Lobby always did those 40% off coupons, but you knew to NEVER pay full price at Hobby Lobby because if what you wanted wasn’t on sale, you could use the 40% off coupon.
We know discounting is going to have no part in getting this inquiry boost! So I challenged myself to think of what I would do if I wanted to get at least 1 photography inquiry in 24 hours?
I came up with 5 things I would do in 1 day to get inquiries in 24 hours – without discounting my prices.
Set These Things Up First
I am assuming you have a few important elements set up before doing these things:
- Website that shows your current portfolio of work and has a place for people to get to know you and contact you
- Social media account
- Way to inquire + Process for handling inquiries
Easy Things You Can Do To Get Inquiries TODAY (Without Discounting)
Ask Your 3 Best Clients for Referrals
These could be someone you’ve worked with recently, or a while back. Ideally, they would have paid your current rate or something close to your current rate AND booked you for the type of session you want to be known for. Got them in mind?
You’re going to directly reach out to them and ASK for something really specific. I have a rule in my business and life that I’m not going to ask someone for something unless I’ve already GIVEN to them. And, if this client loves you and you served them well, you’ve covered the “giving” part.
Think about the type of session you want to get an inquiry for – newborn, birth, maternity etc. Just one! Reach out to those past clients directly via text or DM or email, however you normally communicate with them, and this is what you’re going to say –
“Hey Jenny! Do you happen to know anyone due this summer who might be interested in newborn photography? I have a couple of spots open for a newborn session like you had with baby Gideon last fall. I’m hoping to get those spots secured and I thought you might know someone. Hope you’re doing well and still loving your portraits!”
Of course, this is written in the tone of voice I use with our clients so make it personalized to sound like you. Your clients love you and they want to help you!
Honestly, sometimes it’s the simplest things that we forget. We try to make things super complicated or over-think and we forget to simply get clear on what we want and ask directly for it.
Publish a Booking Now CTA Post on Social Media
In the same way you want to GIVE before you ASK, chances are on social media you’ve been giving value and connection with your audience so it’s ok to ASK for something every once in a while.
My rule of thumb is 80% giving and 20% asking on social.
Here’s what to do:
- Choose the platform where you’re most active and your ideal client is hanging out
- You’re going to make a post and story telling your following why and how to book you for a specific session type (If the platform you’re choosing is IG, I’d choose a reel over a static photo post because IG is pushing those organically more than other post types right now)
- Include VALUE – not only your availability (which is important to include,) but also what’s great and special and unique about booking this session with you? What have past clients said about working with you? What stresses or pains with booking with you relieve them of?
- Don’t forget to tell them what to do at the end of the post (which is to inquire). It’s ok if these types of posts get less engagement because the people who take the action you want them to take likely won’t comment or even like the post but they WILL head over to your contact form.
- I suggest creating the POST for this first, then making the story. Of course you can directly share the post in your stories, but I like adding a little story or something with my face straight to camera and don’t forget to include a link to inquire right there in the story 🙂
PS: If you need help with what to post on social media, including posts like this, I have a full social media mini-course specifically for photographers called the photography posting plan. It will walk you through ALL of this including creating a content calendar for social media. You can learn more about this HERE.
Engage with Past and Ideal Clients
The next way to get an inquiry in the next 24 hours goes along with the previous tip. So now that you’ve made this CTA post and story – you’re going to engage on AT LEAST 10 of your past clients accounts or ideal clients posts.
Does this take time? Yes! But it WORKS and here is why:
When you go and GENUINELY engage with other accounts, 1) they’re more likely to hop over to your account and check you out and 2) it tells IG that you’re GIVING with comments and time and interaction and that THESE are the types of accounts that are important.
Social media is about being friendly and making connections – so AFTER you make the CTA post, go and engage on 10 accounts or more if you have time. Here’s the deal, you’re not going to post a heart or a spammy comment so you can get it done quickly. These are your past clients and/or ideal clients! How would you comment on a friend’s post to encourage them or show them that you care? Be genuine. This is actually a good practice to have in general in your business but definitely works well followed by the CTA post!
Publish an Ad
The next tip is to put a little money behind your offer with a Facebook or Instagram ad. Despite what you may have heard, Facebook ads DO still work. It’s just important to set your expectations. When you have a direct call-to-action ad (which means something like “book now”), they’re going to be more expensive than a “sign up for my freebie” type ad.
BUT the good news is they’re much more likely to book if they are clicking to inquire. So it’s more expensive, but they’re also more qualified.
Don’t get to stuffy with your ad. Try to make it sound like something you’d post on an organic social media post and give very clear next steps and ask them to inquire if they’re interested in a session.
Invite Past Clients to Joins Session Plans
Our first step was to reach out to past clients for referrals right? And this idea is similar, but a little different. This is something I would do usually once a quarter to fill up blank spots in my calendar, so if you’re multitasking, listen up for this one!
You’re going to reach out to past birth or newborn clients who didn’t sign up for a baby plan and ask if they’re interested in a 6 month or 12 month session.
Listen, this might feel a little aggressive, but I can tell you as a mom and after being in this industry for a decade – moms are busy. They want these photos, they do.
They just forget. They’re chasing around a baby now and it’s likely been floating around in their mind to call you or schedule a sitter session and they just haven’t done it yet.
Help them out by reaching out first! Briefly explain what the session looks like and ask if they want more details or to get on your schedule. Remember to play up ALL the benefits of the session (things like, I know those little chubby arms of hers won’t be around much longer. Or, “that baby chub leaves so quickly once they start crawling” Or “they change so quickly at this age and I know you’re very busy. These sessions are a great way to capture her current milestones as she grows.” THEN talk about the price and what’s included and how long the session is, etc.
We often time get right to the “what they get” portion before we build much of a demand for what we are offering.
Think about it like this – if sell hammocks, I can say to you, “Each hammock is made with 100% organic cotton and is 3 feet tall and holds up to 300 pounds.” Ok cool, that’s good info to know, but it doesn’t make me like SUPER want to buy that hammock NOW.
Instead, I could talk about the benefits of a hammock like, “Did you know just 20 minutes of sunlight on your skin can reduce depression and anxiety by 50%? What better way to enjoy the outdoors than to lounge on a soft hammock, so you can comfortably enjoy watching your kids play in the yard AND get some health benefits along the way!”
I kinda just riffed that and I know nothing about hammocks but hopefully you get what I mean!
The 5 easy ways to get inquiries in the next 24 hours is to…
1) Directly ask your best clients for referrals
2) Post a direct CTA action post and story on social
3) Then go engage with at least 10 of your past clients or potential clients that look ideal
4) Use FB or IG ads
5) Go back to your past birth or newborn clients to offer a baby plan
If you loved this episode – do me a favor and take action my friend!! I’d love to hear how it goes for you and how many inquiries you get by taking these steps.
Make sure to check out a similar episode called 6 Ways to Make an Extra $2,000-$3,000 in Your Photography Business in 30 Days – that was released back in June of 2021, but it’s a good one and of course we’ll link it in the show notes!