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How to find your own photo booth gigs and get paid.

As photo booth business owners we often wear many hats; sales, customer service, attendant, technician, prop master and so on.  The most important of these roles is arguably sales, as without sales none of us would be able to continue in the business.  Many of us put websites and ads out there, and sit back and wait for customers to contact us, and they do.  However, we all have dates on the calendar that just don’t seem to book, or customers who nearly want a free photo booth rental.

So I recently had the thought, why not pro-actively book some gigs?  Instead of waiting for a customer to come to me, I’ll reach out to them, cold. Many other industries employ the sales technique of cold outreach, contacting potential customers whom you have no prior relationship or contact with.  Here’s how, it’s not easy, but it is simple.

1. Search Facebook for local events. 
Facebook has a search bar and it’s your friend.  Search for the names of cities and towns that you are willing to work in (one at a time) and then click on the events tab.

This will bring up a list of upcoming events in the city that you searched.  Many of these events are looking for vendors and/or you know a photo booth would a fun addition.

2.  Find the RIGHT event. 
Find an event that meets the following criteria:
Appropriate for a photo booth to be present. 
At least 30 days away so you have some time to sell. 
Event will be well attended. (Facebook tells you how many are planning/interested in attending.)
Event is specific to something; a group, cause, fundraiser, etc.

3.  Sign-up for the event as a vendor. 
Contact the event coordinator, explain that you own a local photo booth company and you’d like to bring your photo booth to the event.  Explain that you’ll provide free 4×6 prints for the attendees and you’d be glad to place the event logo on the print.  You will likely have to pay a vendor fee of $25-$100, gladly pay the fee.  I have not had anyone turn me down to date.

4. Sell sponsorships. 
This is where you employ the technique that was discussed on ProBoothTalk by Clay Moore and Jason Whaley, read  the blog post or listen to the podcast here.  In summary, there is plenty of empty space on a 4×6 print to have the logos of sponsors.  In addition, I have increased the amount of potential sponsor space by offering sponsored logos on a custom, step and repeat backdrop.  Depending on how many photos you place on the prints (2-3 is best) and how many logos you desire on the step and repeat, there is the potential for 6-8 different sponsors.  

Start contacting every business, local, regional or national that is in any way related to the nature of the event and pitch them a sponsorship.  For example, a few weeks ago I had my photo booth at a local dog walk.  I contacted every dog or pet related business I could think of.  Veterinarians, dog grooming, dog walkers, kennels, pet insurance companies, pet food/supply companies, dog fence businesses, pet ID tag companies, pet apps, etc.  Many of these companies, didn’t respond, responded “no thanks”, or indicated that they’ve already spent their “donation” budgets for the year.  Then I just started pitching the sponsorship to non pet/dog local businesses and in the end I got 2 local banks to say “yes.”

Structure the pricing of the sponsorships so that you receive your regular retail booking fee for the number of hours you’ll be at the event.  $199 – $299 is a good aim for placement on the print or step and repeat banner.  You could offer a better rate if the business would like to be placed on both the print and step and repeat, or even be the exclusive sponsor for the entire event.   For a certain price point you could also offer exclusivity for a certain type of industry sponsor (financial institution, insurance company, restaurant, etc.).

The pitch to the business is that the event is going to be attended by hundreds of people and every who uses the photo booth will walk away with a print featuring their logo.  Some businesses may even be interested in placing a promo, coupon, QR or bar code to entice event patrons to shop at their business. 

How to contact potential sponsors?
To date, using this strategy, I have not made any phone calls.  Granted, it may be easier to sell these sponsorships on the phone, but I’m just not a fan of phone calls. I contact the potential sponsors via email, Facebook messenger and Instagram direct message.  I’ve found the most effective opening line to be, “Hi *insert business name*, who would I contact about a marketing/sponsorship opportunity.”  You’ll be directed to the correct person and then you can explain your pitch.  An bonus is that even if they say “no”, you are creating a contact list of all of these people for the future.

Post event.
Treat your sponsors like gold.  Tag and thank them publicly in post event social media posts, send them a thank you email, and send them a snail mail thank you card.  Many of these events are annual, so keep up relationships and hopefully you can repeat the event next year. 


Conclusion.
This strategy is simple, but not easy.  It’s easy to find the right event, but selling potential sponsors is more difficult.  You might get 20 “no’s” before you get a “yes.” Pay the vendor fee before you have any sponsors.  This will force you to keep hustling for sponsors because you’ve committed to be at the event.  Here’s a breakdown of the finances of my last event with this strategy:

Total Costs: $250
Vendor fee: $40
Step & Repeat backdrop: $185
Paper & ink: $25

Total sponsorship sales: $800
Net profit: $550

Not bad for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. 

 

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