So, you're considering having an open house in your studio space or another space?
If you're looking for tips not only how to host a successful photography open house, but also to book clients on the spot at your open house, then you've got to keep reading.
The point of an open house isn't to say, “Ta-da! I'm successful. I have a studio. I'm awesome.” The point is to help potential clients envision a photo shoot with you in your studio. You are inviting people to see what you do and to learn about the photo experience in a non-committal way.
Here's how to maximize your Open House!
The most important part of an open house is – guests.
You need to have a reason for people to attend your event. Sure, you'll have mom, dad, and your friends, but who you really want is potential customers! Lure them to your studio with the promise of sweets, gifts, and photos! Here is some inspiration to get you started:
At my open house, the biggest thing that drew people in was swag bags (my friend Lori of Suite She really pushed me to try this, thank you Lori!). I let all my followers know that the first 20 people to arrive at the Open House would receive a swag bag, full of little treats from other local businesses. Before I even had a date for the open house, I got out there and talked to other local business owners about my event and asked if they would like to participate by giving gifts, coupons, and even door prizes for my open house!
Since I have pro hair and makeup artists, I asked them to do mini makeovers at the open house- the women LOVED it! All they did was either a quick hairstyle, or eyes and lip color, and the women felt pampered and beautiful. It also gave them a taste of what a full Portrait Session would be like!
I have a friend who owns a Massage business and asked her to give short massages, and as you can imagine, the ladies loved that too! (Here is networking at its finest- having this service to offer guests was awesome for me, but it also helped her to reach new clients!)
What's an open house without some refreshments?
This does not need to be expensive. I offered my guests lemon lime water, popcorn, and I made caprese h'or d'oeuvres. The spread looked beautiful, and people ate it up!
When you're having an open house for a photography studio, the expectation is that there will actually be photography involved! The first thing you should do is make sure you have your portfolio out for people to see. Put displays up on the walls, have albums on the tables, show them before/after pictures, have an iPad play a slideshow of pictures, whatever you can do to show your attendees your work!
At my open house, the big hit was having a photo booth. I had a backdrop set up and a rack full of hats, gloves, jewelry, and accessories, and I snapped away! Potential clients (especially for boudoir) want to know what it's like to work with you. They may be nervous about doing a photo shoot, but when they see how great you are and how comfortable you make them feel, they'll be ready to book!
Whenever I do a photo booth, I tell clients I will put their pictures up on Facebook after the event, and I take their name and email so I can send them a link later. This is dynamite because it gets the women from the event interacting with your Facebook page, but also it gets their Facebook friends seeing you too!
Once you know what you're going to offer at your Open House, it's time to start inviting people!
I start by creating an event on Facebook and posting on my wall about the event. This is a great way to reach a lot of people fast! Secondly, tell people about it! If you go to networking groups, or you're talking with another business owner, tell them about your open house. Also, use your email base! Send out a newsletter telling your fans about your event, what you'll be offering, and why they should come! Finally, where I live, we have an awesome local magazine that has an amazing events calendar. It's free to post on there, and it reaches tons of people! Check out your local resources for more event calendars.
Your number one objective is to meet people and tell them about what you have to offer. If you have a friend who can help you out, ask them to help you host the event by welcoming people when they come through
the doors, giving out swag bags, and telling them about all the things they have to check out! Your focus can then be on doing the photo booth and talking to each woman, getting to know her and telling her about your studio. Be genuine, take the time to get to say hi to each person that walks through your doors!
One thing to consider for your Open House is a booking incentive- give them a reason to book with you that night rather than waiting till they think of you again. This could be a photo credit, an additional service or shoot time, whatever you want it to be!
The party may be over, but your job isn't done yet!
After the cleanup's done, get the pictures from the photo booth edited and upload them to Facebook! Make sure to send out a thank you to the attendees with your pictures!
The next thing to do is look at the names and emails you wrote down from the photo booth. Take the time to email each person, thanking them for attending the event and also following up on a photo shoot idea you may have discussed during the Open House. You can also re-offer your booking incentive again, or give them a coupon for a photo shoot.
Voila! That's how you host a successful Open House.
Happy planning and high fives!
P.S. What are your thoughts on hosting a successful Open House? Have you hosted an open house? How'd it go? Any recommendations to add? Comment below and share what you know!