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Photography/Coupon Advertising


Hi John,

I'm starting a small photography business in my studio in Chattanooga Tennessee. I've thought about yellow page advertising but it will be several months before I can get listed in the 2010 directory which doesn't come out until July. Of course, TV advertising and newspaper advertising is out of the question. I know many photographers have websites and I know a lot of photographers get business that way. But I can't afford a professional website designer and I don't have a lot of portrait work to show right now even if I could afford a professional website.

As I've been looking for ideas surfing the internet, I found the Chattanooga coupon website  For a few hundreds dollars, I can get a professional multimedia website with professional advertising photography, a streaming video advertisement for up to two minutes, four professionally designed coupons which I may change once a month and which may be printed from the website as well as digital versions for delivery to mobile devices, a PDF of my price list, search engine optimization, an interactive map and driving directions to my studio, up to ten web pages and no hosting fees as long as my website is hosted on the coupon website.

Also I can optionally have full color coupons placed on the back of grocery store register receipt tape. They offer to print a minimum of 300,000 of these and distribute them directly into the hands of 15,000 grocery shoppers each week. This would be from the grocery store just 2 miles from my studio. If I placed a decent offer on those grocery store coupons with just one full color example of a portrait, do you think I would get a great response with around 15,000 of those handed to shoppers in my area each week?

On the website, they also offer to email my coupons to their website visitors who subscribe and request my latest coupons to be emailed to them. Plus with my various website coupon offers being available for printing and mobile device delivery, I don't see how I could go wrong with this deal.  Especially since it costs only a few hundred dollars for the website.

Do you know of any photographers who have advertised with coupon promotions on the back of grocery store register receipt tape?  If so, is this a good marketing and promotional medium for portrait studios?

Hello Sheila,

Thank you for your photography business questions. It is my opinion that the best way for photographers to promote themselves on a continued basis is through a professional website. This should at least be the major part of your overall marketing mix. There are of course other forms of advertising which you may do, probably on a seasonal basis, which will be cost-effective (pay for itself and turn a profit as well).

Usually, only very talented and large studio operations may advertise in the newspaper on a seasonal basis and produce a profit on that advertising. The holidays such as we are enjoying right now is the best time for such advertising. Christmas themed portraits for two months or so before Christmas is very profitable for most studios. I'm not for sure if your studio is in a commercial location or home-based. If you are home-based, your best strategy is to provide very high-end style portraiture with more personalized customer service - at a higher price than the "assembly line" portrait studios. But advertising in the newspaper would still be expensive.

This is where I believe advertising your portraiture on the grocery store cash register receipts may do well - purely on a seasonal basis. If you placed one great portrait on your coupons starting about 3 months before Christmas and your coupon offer applies to your best photo package no matter if it is Christmas theme or not, you might get plenty of business to make that promotion pay for itself.  (This of course depends on your portrait work being great and fairly priced among several factors).

Direct mail which is well prepared and handled by a professional mailing list agency can perform very well. I would recommend speaking with a small marketing agency and tell them your budget to find out what might be the best form of advertising and marketing for your specific situation.

- John


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I have over 30 years of experience. 12 years portrait studio experience. I can comprehensively answer questions relating directly to the art, science and business of photography and the portrait studio business. Photoshop and other photo editing software.


Over 30 years photography and about 4 years working as a portrait photographer for a studio in Chattanooga and eight years as a portrait studio owner.

I have attended numerous workshop, seminars and photography conventions over the years. I continually self-study from my library of over 100 photography, video, digital photography, photoshop and other books.

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