We interview photographers Kent and Sarah Smith about how they market to seniors and families.
Kent Smith Photography of Pickerington, Ohio is one of the most award winning studios in the state. Between them, Kent and Sarah Smith have been named “Photographer of the Year” across a six-state region 4 times. Their work has been featured at Disney’s Epcot center, used by Kodak in national advertising campaigns, has appeared in photography trade magazines, and has been seen on Entertainment Tonight and HBO specials.
Kent and Sarah have been teaching other photographers for over 22 years. We caught up with them to bring you some insights from one of the best studios around.
You shoot both fine portraiture for families and couples as well as senior portraits. Which came first?
I think there are two parts to our success.
We actually began shooting weddings and it’s from there that we started shooting children, seniors, and eventually families. We decided to stop shooting weddings in 2002 to focus on what we now love doing most which is family and senior portraits.
Today, seniors are the greater portion of our business, and they actually drive a lot of our family portrait work. Parents will accompany their high schoolers into the studio, enjoy the experience, and, with their kids leaving for college, decide to book a session for a family portrait.
Your websites for family and senior portraits are very different. Can you explain this choice and how you cater to both groups?
The seniors are the gatekeepers so we market to them separately from parents and grandparents. While the marketing is different for both groups, the lines blur for senior portrait clients once they are in the studio. You have two clients when you shoot seniors – them and their parents. If you maximize the attention and satisfaction you give to both you can double your sale.
How are you using Facebook and social media?
We’re using Animoto there big time! We actually began using Animoto in a “social” way before we were even on Facebook. We would create an “ambassador” video and email it out to a group of seniors we’ve worked with before. One of the best ways of doing this is making it for a specific high school so that it has greater appeal to other students from that school. We would include text in the video offering a discount to those who mention the video.
While we started doing that via email, today we obviously use Facebook and tag everyone featured in the video. We’ve also had success messaging directly if, for example, we have slots available for shoots they’ll fill up in a snap through Facebook.
How else are you using Animoto? How do you include videos in your packages?
We should mention that Kent has been doing slideshows for clients since 1981! That is real slides for 20 years baby! He used to photograph weddings and develop E6 slides in the back of his van to show at the reception. As you can imagine, that wowed crowds in 1981.
To get that same wow factor today, you have to be more savvy and jam-pack a great deal of visual excitement into a tight presentation. You need to constantly separate yourself from the crowd and NOTHING does that better than Animoto! We include Animoto as a bonus for encouraging clients to spend beyond a threshold and it’s been very popular. Not only is it boosting our bottom line, but it gives us more time to do more of what we love!
Tell us about what you love doing with that extra time.
It’s so fun to check the number of views our Animoto videos are getting from the beach! But jokes aside, Animoto is giving us more time to follow our passion for mission work. At Imaging USA we did a presentation on the very day of the earthquake in Haiti. We had already decided to give a percentage of our product sales to Samaritan’s Purse, a worldwide relief organization, so it was amazing to know the money we raised was on the ground in Haiti the very next day.