How to build a successful senior representative program.

June 28th, 2023
three woman sitting near the flower

For many portrait photographers, high school senior photo sessions are a crucial part of their business. These sessions not only provide an opportunity to showcase their skills but also generate revenue for their business. 

One way to increase your business’s revenue and reach is by setting up a high school senior photo referral program. In this blog, we will discuss the benefits, goals, how to get it started, how to recruit reps, how to select reps, how many reps you need, and what reps get in return.

The benefits.

Setting up a high school senior photo referral program can significantly increase the number of senior photos you take in a season, resulting in a substantial increase in revenue.

By offering incentives to your reps and encouraging them to refer their friends and family to your business, you can expand your reach beyond your existing customer base. Your reps can share your business with their friends, family, and classmates, and help you reach potential customers that you may not have been able to reach otherwise. 

Peer-to-peer marketing is successful because people trust recommendations from their friends and family more than traditional advertising, it’s personalized, and it can lead to positive word-of-mouth recommendations and increased brand loyalty. 

Furthermore, a referral program can help you build long-term relationships with your clients. By offering incentives and rewards to your reps, you are showing them that you value their business and appreciate their support. This often leads to loyal customers and repeat business.

woman standing near white petaled flowers

Set goals.

A referral program has three main goals: increasing revenue, expanding your reach beyond your current customer base, and building long-term relationships with clients. 

To achieve these goals, it’s important to set clear targets for each aspect of the program. For example, you should establish specific revenue goals for the amount of revenue you want to generate through referrals. Additionally, it is best to set targets for the number of new customers you hope to acquire through referrals, as this will help you expand your reach. Finally, setting goals for the number of repeat customers you aim to acquire through referrals will help you build lasting relationships with your clients. 

By setting clear goals for your referral program, you can track your progress and make adjustments as needed to ensure you meet your targets.

Choose incentives.

After you’ve set your goals for the program, you need to determine the incentives you will offer to encourage your reps to refer their friends and classmates. This can include discounts, free sessions, gift cards, exclusive products,  or cold hard cash.  

When it comes to incentives for high school senior reps, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The type and amount of incentives you offer will depend on your budget, the level of effort required from your reps, and what motivates them. Here are some common incentives that you could consider offering to your senior reps:

  • Discounts or free sessions: Offer your senior reps discounts (that can add up to a free photo session) for every referral that results in a booked session. Of course, if you’ve already shot their portraits for free to use in the Senior Rep campaign, this incentive isn’t as effective.
  • Cash incentives: Consider offering your senior reps a cash reward for every referral that results in a booked session. This can be a powerful motivator for your reps, as they will see a direct financial benefit from referring new clients to your business.
  • Exclusive products: Offer your senior reps exclusive products, such as albums, prints, or additional digital files, as a reward for their referrals. This can be a great way to incentivize your reps and give them something unique that they can’t get elsewhere.

woman wearing black V-neck T-shirt during daytime

With your plans in place, it’s time to create marketing materials that your reps can use to promote your business effectively. This could include flyers, brochures, social media graphics, and more. 

Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to recruit reps to represent your business. Reach out to your existing customers, post on social media, and contact local schools to find potential reps who can help promote your business and attract new customers.

By following these steps, you can set up a successful referral program that helps you achieve your business objectives.

How and where to recruit.

Recruiting the right reps is crucial for the success of your referral program. 

Firstly, your existing customers can be your best advocates, so consider reaching out to them to ask if their high school students would be interested in becoming a rep. 

Secondly, posting about your referral program on your social media accounts can help you reach a wider audience. Encourage your followers to share the post with their friends and family to increase visibility. 

Thirdly, high schools can be an excellent source of potential reps. You can reach out to local schools and offer to speak to guidance counselors or other staff members who may be interested in promoting your referral program to their students. 

Lastly, attending local events where high school seniors and their families may be present can also be a great way to recruit reps. This can include events such as college fairs, sports games, or community events where you can interact with potential reps and promote your program.

boy in blue denim jacket

Select the Reps.

When selecting reps for your referral program, it’s essential to look for students who are active and involved in their school and community. These students are more likely to have a broad network of friends and family who may be interested in your business. 

Another factor to consider is a student’s GPA and extracurricular activities. Students with high GPAs and/or involvement in extracurricular activities are more likely to have influence in the eyes of their peers. It is important that your reps make sense for your brand; if you have a more fun and funky vibe, it might make sense to search out students in the arts and drama departments. A more classic brand may want to focus on students in the National Honor Society, Debate Team, Student Council, and some athletes. A photographer already working in action sports could add senior portraits to their business by finding reps in the teams they photograph. There’s room for many different creative styles in senior portraits and choosing the right reps can help you book clients that rave about your sessions. 

To ensure that you choose the right reps for your business, it’s essential to have an application and conduct interviews with potential candidates. The interviews can provide you with a better sense of their personality, goals, and motivation for becoming a rep. 

By selecting reps who are a good fit for your business, you can increase the likelihood of a successful referral program.

Download a template for creating your own application.

Senior Rep App template page 1
Senior Rep App template page 2

How many Reps?

When determining the number of reps needed for your referral program, there are several factors to consider.

Firstly, the size of your business plays a crucial role in determining the number of reps required. For instance, if you are a small business, you may only need a few reps to achieve your goals. Conversely, if you have a larger business that may include more than one photographer, you may need more reps to reach a wider audience. 

Secondly, your revenue goals also influence the number of reps required for your referral program. If your revenue goals are high, you may need more reps to refer more customers to your business. 

Lastly, your reach goals should also be taken into account. If you have high reach goals, you may need more reps to spread the word about your business to a larger audience. By considering these factors, you can determine the appropriate number of reps needed to achieve your referral program’s objectives.

Get started.

In conclusion, a high school senior photo referral program can provide significant benefits to your business, including increased revenue, wider reach, and long-term relationships with your clients. 

To get started, set clear goals, decide on incentives, create marketing materials, recruit reps, and select the right reps for your business. By offering your reps incentives and rewards, you can encourage them to refer their friends and family to your business and help you achieve your referral program goals.


  • Cheryl Dell'Osso

    Cheryl is the Director of Content Strategy at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl and Seniors by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC. Cheryl has mentored countless new photographers looking to build successful photography businesses.

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