The reality of the photo output business is it is largely seasonal. Most industry profits come in the fourth quarter, as photo gifts, photo books and cards drive the creative categories. As we mentioned in a recent post, U.S. print volumes are continuing to decline, while photo merchandise continues to increase. The challenge for any photo output business, then, is to gain production during the off season.
For some companies, this means pursuing commercial business to keep their presses running. One way to optimize this time of the year is to actively promote other occasions such as Mother’s Day or graduation. It is also a good time to offer new product categories like home décor (shower curtains, carpet, throws, etc.) or sport items (sports bottle, towel, picnic basket etc…) which may be more suitable for spring and summer. A third option can be to try a new photo intensive market segments such as the real-estate agents or tourism agencies.
Other companies use the off-season to not only build volume, but also customer relationships. Consider using the slower spring and summer seasons to reach out to customers, asking for reviews and for service suggestions.
Ask for reviews and testimonials from this past holiday season to feature in your e-mail newsletter, on your blog and on social media. Also, use this time to anticipate pre-season promotions, like summer portrait sittings, which can then made into a wall canvas for the holidays.
Also, take time to make sure your marketing messages are up to date and in-synch. Make sure your website has plenty of calls-to-action for people to stay in touch with you by subscribing to an email list or a blog, and even some offers they can redeem for staying a loyal customer. Some ideal places for these calls-to-action are the blog, homepage, product/service pages and social profiles. Make growing your customer lists a priority during slower periods, thus making this period more rewarding as these customers purchase from you during the holidays.
Brandon Stephens, president of Christmas Decor, a holiday lighting and decorating company, writes in Inc. about tactics seasonal businesses can employ. One is to take advantage of the off-season and think ahead to the busy season.
“Seasonal marketers that think long-term and use their off-season time wisely can help tee their business up for incredible success when peak season begins again,” writes Stephens. “While one business is in its off-season, business owners and managers should use the extra time to outline their growth plan, assess business needs, and set goals and profit targets for the next season. This might include calculating the ideal number of clients to retain, adjusting the training process for efficiency, updating/ordering/maintaining equipment, conducting pricing evaluations, building a mailing list, and determining appropriate marketing tactics.”