Lifetime customers are the best! You have to work for them, but they provide a ton of income for you over the years. But, they have to hear about you first. You can start this process with some organization and constant reminders.

Many local newspapers feature new baby announcements, marriages and anniversaries. Take the time to harvest that information, store it in a database, and act on it – regularly.

Lets think through the possibilities with a newborn baby announcement in the paper.

As soon as you get the paper, scan the births section of the paper and send the new happy couple a color card in the mail (using the address out of the phone book) with several beautiful pictures of newborn babies and a coupon for a discount for baby pictures, birth announcements or whatever is appropriate for your community.

The beautiful thing about it is you can use the name of the child, birthdate, and the name of the parents on the card, and capture that information for future reference.

When the couple comes in, get an email address from them and a list of any other children and their birthdays. Shoot an amazing picture of the newborn, suggest a special mother/baby picture as well, and encourage the father to have a shot taken with the newborn. They are only that small for a few months.

Remember, these pictures have to be amazing for the lifetime customer to exist.

After that photo session, think about the next 20 years.

What if you sent an email reminder at about 6-7 months with pictures of babies with big toothy grins reminding the parents to capture those new teeth with another quick shot at the studio.

A birthday reminder at a year (and every year thereafter) is a logical marketing step.

Kindergarten is such a huge step, what about a reminder at the beginning of the year just as school starts to get that school photo taken. The picture is going to be taken – why give the business to the school photographer when you can collect that revenue by getting there first. What about scouting, starting junior high, senior portraits, etc. You might alternate between email and letters to give some variety to the contacts.

Make sure you indicate the child’s name on the emails and letters. Suggest family pictures once a year. Capture the mothers ideas about the kind of pictures she likes. Does she like outdoor pictures? Formal, casual, spring, fall, etc. There are computer programs that automate this for you and several hours of brainstorming will result in many opportunities each year for you to photograph that family and their children. You can start the process simply by putting the child’s name and birthdate into the program.

Dentists are great at this. You get a postcard every 6 months from your dentist reminding you of the 6 month checkup. Restaurants are using this as well. Children get a postcard that they can fill out with the purchase of a kids meal. This postcard is sent out about a week before their birthday. The goal of the restaurant is to get the whole family in to celebrate the childs birthday. That’s a pretty good return for a postcard and stamp. This is a great formula that you can replicate for your business.

Focus on building your customer list and creating a lifetime relationship with your customers. Get to be the family photographer where you are asked to capture the memories during every significant lifetime event of the entire family – from the birth to the wedding and everything in between.

The list can start with several entry points taken from the local paper:

  • the newborn announcement
  • Eagle Scout announcement
  • Marriage/Engagement announcement
  • Anniversary announcement
  • etc.

Collecting information in a database and sending regular, appropriate announcements (via snail mail until you get an email address) can create regular, repeatable, sources of income.