How a Pumpkin Spice Latte Can Get You More Photography Sales

by Jamie M Swanson

How a Pumpkin Spice Latte Can Get You More Photography Sales

Confession: I tried my first ever Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks just a few weeks ago.

I’m not a huge Starbucks fan in general, much preferring the delicious Chai that I get from my local coffee shop, but with all the hype and people saying how much they loved one, I decided it was time to give one a try.

It was delicious, I admit. Much like drinking a slice of pumpkin pie with coffee. But not mind-blowing at all.

The most astounding thing to me is how much of a cult following it has. I mean, even the generic coffee creamers and cookies in the grocery store are coming out in “pumpkin spice” flavors, so you know there’s a large size following.

I’ve seen posts on Facebook about how excited my friends are that it’s back, and whenever it leaves for the season I always see people complain that it’s gone.

So why would Starbucks only offer one of their most popular drinks for a very limited time and not offer it all the time?

It’s all about Scarcity

People who love the Pumpkin Spice Latte will justify going to Starbucks more often while it’s available because they can only get it for so long.

It wouldn’t be a big deal otherwise.

I mean, let’s face it. Starbucks could get the stuff they want year-round to offer the drink all year if they wanted to.

But instead, by only offering it during a certain season, they are creating a desire for people to get it now before it’s gone that can’t be replicated if they offered it all the time.

This is Scarcity. Scarcity is simply a fancy marketing term for “limiting” something, and it’s a HUGE driver of sales.

Scarcity and your photography business

There are hundreds of products that you could be offering your client.

Which one could you make into your own personal Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Maybe it’s metal prints that they can only order before Christmas. Or mini accordion albums. Because it is a limited item, you can also charge a premium for it.

Pick a specialty item or two that you want to promote at specific times throughout the year and see how it goes. Make sure you tell people exactly when it will be available for order, how long it will be available, and what they need to do to order one.

Then watch the sales come in.

Faking Scarcity

How a Pumpkin Spice Latte Can Get You More Photography Sales

Me and my Pumpkin Spice Latte. YUM!

Now, let’s say a Pumpkin Spice Latte Lover goes into Starbucks in June when it isn’t supposed to be available and begged for their favorite drink.

Even though Starbucks could theoretically make it for them, they’d lose out during the limited promotional time that it’s offered because that person would know that they could get it anytime and wouldn’t feel so compelled to go in every day during the fall to get one.

It’s absolutely essential that you stick to your guns and only offer your special product during the times you say you will. Yes, I know you can order it at any time. Yes, it’s very difficult to turn down sales. But if you want to start creating buzz and really sell a lot of the item, let your client know that they are only available during a certain time of the year and that you’ll allow them to buy it at that point.

Making sure your clients know about it!

The key to making this work is making sure that each of your clients from the past year knows about your promotion or it won’t matter at all.

Since you can’t rely upon services like Facebook to actually tell any of your clients about it, it’s absolutely essential that you have a client email list that you can use to send them information about the promotion. I highly recommend AWeber for photographers, even though it’s not free like some services because it has invaluable advanced features that will bring you lots of extra sales in the future that other free services like MailChimp do not offer with their free accounts. For less than $20 a month, it will be your greatest asset and is some of the best money you can spend on marketing and advertising. It’s also one of the least-used by photographers, which is truly a shame. I’ll be writing more about this throughout the next few months.

If your clients don’t hear about your promotion, it’ll be an utter failure.

So, how could you incorporate scarcity into your business? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please leave a comment below and share!

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Jamie M Swanson is a Madison Wedding Photographer with her husband Brandon. She enjoys photography, loves the business side of things, but truly comes alive by helping others grow their own businesses. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Steve Koo October 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

Great read, Jamie… and now you made me crave a pumpkin spice latte!

Jamie M Swanson October 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thanks Steve! Now go enjoy your latte. ;)

Marie Walkowski October 31, 2012 at 12:46 am

I know my clients just love my fall mini sessions which come with custom holiday cards! I am in need of more marketing ideas and I know I need to start a newsletter! Thanks Jamie as usual you are the best!

Jamie M Swanson October 31, 2012 at 9:48 am

You’re welcome! Happy marketing to you!

David Walters October 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Had a Pumpkin Spice Latte this morning. Line was at least 15 people deep with out a single complaint. Starbucks def. is doing something right, not a bad company to learn from. Thanks for sharing.

Jamie M Swanson October 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm

You’re welcome. Hope you enjoyed your latte. ;)

Heather Chesky November 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Great article….though it’s not seasonal like the pumpkin spice latte, it reminds me of how Chick Filla does business. I always crave their delicious, mouth watering fries on Sunday, the one day they are closed…so I’m more likely to make a point to get chick filla on a Staurday and on Monday because I know I can’t have it on Sunday :)

Jamie M Swanson November 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Yup. How can you do something similar?

Danny @ www.pictalo.com November 3, 2012 at 8:31 am

I think you are mistaken. The pumpkin spice latte IS mind blowing. ;-)

I’m thinking about doing really themed mini sessions as my Pumpkin spice Latte. Just not sure when the perfect time of year for them may be.

Jamie M Swanson November 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

HAHA! I’m more of a chai girl myself. LOVE me some Alterra chai. :)

The nice thing about themed sessions like that is you can really do them anytime you feel like you’d like a few more sessions and find some reason to do it. Nice!

Christy Peterson November 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

A lot of Photogs offer fairies on special days, I offer them all the time. Maybe I should offer regular portraits on special days, haha! Got the wheels turning’…

Jamie M Swanson November 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I’m sure you’ll figure out what would work best for you. :)

sarah November 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I actually just sent out a promotion today! I was inspired by reading the facebook posts about what everyone is thankful for… So I made up a contest. I encouraged everyone to think of someone they were thankful for and tell me why. Whoever had the best story won that person a free 30 minute mini session! Although I wont be making the sitting fee money, my disclaimer is that it does not come with any photos… So whoever wins the session will still be spending money on prints! It is running until Thanksgiving at which time I will announce the winner. I hope to do this annually. It’s not exactly the same thing.. but it did get new, perspective clients already responding!

sarah November 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm

It does not come with nay PRINTS… Obviously it comes with photos! Haha! Ooops.

Jessica November 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

I used to love this stuff. But I gave it up when I found out how bad it is for you. I miss it though!

Jamie M Swanson November 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Yeah, they certainly aren’t healthy! Yummy, though!

melody November 7, 2012 at 9:05 am

This is a wonderful idea & makes perfect sense…..though I have no idea what that one thing could be for me………hmmm….

Jamie M Swanson November 7, 2012 at 9:47 am

I’m sure you’ll figure something out. :)

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