High School Senior How-to Event

Hi everyone and welcome to the High School Senior How-to Event, brought to you by
The Joy of Marketing, I’m Jen Basford. I hope you are doing well today. I wanted to tell
you a little about myself and then about what I’m going to be talking to you about today.
I own 3 Girls Photography in Edmond, Oklahoma. I’ve been in business for about five
and a half years now. I started out in late 2005, as an on-location children’s
photographer. I had done all of my education photography through PPA and was ready
to start my business and thought hey, I think I want to be an on-location children’s
I thought that sounded amazing, so I worked out of my home and right away I kind of
realized that I actually had a passion for photographing seniors. I’m a free spirit. I like to
play a lot. I love what seniors bring to my personality and to my business. I started
quickly moving into the senior business and it just kind of exploded from there.
I like to do things a little different. I’m not your typical senior portrait photographer that
comes in and says hey, I know what I’m going to do with you when you walk in. I’m
going to do direct marketing, this, that and the other.
I try and do things pretty much as far as marketing goes to separate ourselves from
every other type of photographer out there; meaning, giving our studio a true boutique
feel, even though we probably shoot a little more high volume than a true boutique
studio does.
In that five years time, I pretty quickly moved out of my house and into a retail space
about a mile down the road that was in an awesome location. I outgrew that probably
about a month into it and throughout working with PPA, SMS, doing a business plan
and all sorts of things, we designed and built our dream studio in the next few years and
moved into that a little over a year and a half ago now.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
We have a 3,500 square foot space that we absolutely love here. It’s kind of our Disney
World and we keep marketing to high school seniors. It’s honestly what drives our
business. That’s what we’re known for in our area.
We are very good at what we do as far as with high school seniors both in our pricing,
marketing and our buzz and, of course, as you guys probably know from the title here,
from our Fashion Show.
I will tell you that the Fashion Show we run each year has completely driven our
business. We do very little outside of the Fashion Show. In fact, everything we do
outside of that is directly connected to the Fashion Show and that is our senior
marketing. It drives not only what we want each year for seniors, but as we grow it still
drives even more.
About five years into it this thing is kind of a beast itself that has gone from running itself
to us having to actually put even more controls over it.
Today, I’m going to talk to you guys a little bit about our Fashion Show and how we do
it. I will tell you when I’m talking to you about this is how we do it, a lot of these are just
suggestions. I will tell you if something is very specific that is something we learned the
hard way, which as you know happens a lot. That’s just part of business. You just roll
with it and keep going, but I’m here to hopefully help you guys do a lot more with your
business by offering something.
The Fashion Show started when we were working with SPA (Senior Portrait Artist). I
went right at the beginning of my career and saw the Fashion Show they put on and I
said oh, my gosh, we need to be doing this.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
This is something so different for the kids. It gets them involved. It gets them that little
bit of fame that they really want to do. It really means a lot to them. It also can provide
us the opportunity to say hey, these are the things we hope that you’re wearing for your
senior portraits that you’re doing.
We don’t put restrictions on our kids on what to wear. I want to see everything. I want to
see variety, who they are, fashion. I don’t care if it’s loud or obnoxious or things that
traditionally wouldn’t have been photographed. To me that’s part of the interest. Fashion
Shows provide us that outlet and that fame in the community; the fame in the high
school. The kids just drive to us for this.
Let me start here by kind of going through what happens when we start to do our
Fashion Show each year. The very first thing we do is look for a venue.
Venue – You need to keep in mind based on how many people you think you can bring
in to your Fashion Show. Now, things that drive that:
Is this your first year to do a Fashion Show?
Have you done one in the past?
If it’s your first year, you need to plan on fewer people being at the show than what will
be in your second, third, fifth, 10th year, because this will grow exponentially. What I’m
trying to say is you don’t want to plan for a place that’s going to hold 500 people and
only 100 people show up. You’re going to have a much more successful event if it looks
as if the place in packed.
I would rather you have like a standing-room-only type event that people had a hard
time getting into than a place that could hold so much more and it looked empty. That’s
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
going to create a lot of buzz for you. This is something I learned not the hard way, but
it’s something I definitely noticed our first year when we chose the venue.
Location – Where is the venue in relation to your target market? We always try to keep
it centrally located in our community. The first year we did the show we found the
coolest spot in the whole wide world down in Oklahoma City and we’re the northern
suburb of Oklahoma City.
What we didn’t realize at the time is that a lot of kids in our community don’t really drive
outside of Edmond. They’re very community centric, so Oklahoma City for them is like
taking a small town kid and say hey, drive to Dallas. Some of their parents didn’t let
them. They weren’t comfortable with the area. They didn’t know how to get there. So
keep that in mind. We knew that it was more important to bring that back to Edmond,
even if we had a harder time with venues than it was to put that outside of our
Amenities – Find out what’s included at the venue for the fee. You know chairs,
lightings, sound system, staging, all that. Find out what all comes with the price that
you’re paying to rent the venue.
Price -- Is the price right for the location that you’ll be at. It varies widely. We’ve paid
anywhere, I think, between $500 and $2,500 for a venue any given year just trying out
different places. So be sure and filter that into your budget.
Capacity – How many people are going to fit into the venue. This is what I said earlier
about making sure that you know how many people you want there, how many people
you think you can fill it with and then keeping it as tight as possible.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Some suggestions of places you could look for and places that we’ve used would be:
Hotel ballrooms
University ballrooms,
Convention center meeting rooms
An event center
A music club
Now, keep in mind the club needs to be appropriate for a family-friendly audience. We
have a local club here called Our Jazz Club that is actually tied to our university. So, it is
family friendly. They do serve alcohol at certain events, but it is completely separated off
for when we were there. We did a show there one year and it was awesome but, again,
you don’t want just a club-club.
Keep in mind that you may need to secure your venue several months in advance prior
to doing the Fashion Show. Our venue now in order to get the dates we want we do
secure that nine to 12 months in advance. However, the first few years anywhere from
three to six months would have been completely fine.
Things you’re going to need at your venue:
This is critical. The stage is where your models are going to come out from and go down
the runway to showoff the clothes. So, your stage and runway needs to be elevated off
the ground approximately three to four feet and situated at roughly shoulder level of the
seated audience.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
We put this almost all the way against the back wall, but pulled out enough so that we
can create dressing rooms backstage. Our stage I want to say, is roughly 16 x 24 feet
and then the runway comes out anywhere from 45 to 60 feet from the center of the
stage to create a T at the end.
An example if you’re looking to see something would be the Victoria Secret Fashion
Show, if you check that out. Their runway was not a T, but they did have a much longer
main runway and didn’t end up using that. So that’s a good one to look at if you’re
looking for an idea of what we’re talking about.
Pipe and Draping – We rent this from a party supply company that creates, I guess you
would say, our backstage. It’s going to come across the back of the staging area off the
sides and completely block off the backstage to where you can have your dressing
room backstage, hang decorations on that and whatnot.
Again, the staging, chairs, anything like that, the runway, if you are having to rent any of
this and you’re not sure where to start, first of all, ask your venue. A lot of times they
have people they work with that they can help you and point you in the right direction to
go in and ask them about renting this.
If they do not, look up the local pageant director in your area. When I say pageant
director, of course every state has a Miss So and So. Of course, we have Miss
Oklahoma. That is drawn from multiple pageants around the state. You’re going to have
Miss Tulsa, Miss Edmond, and Miss Tulsa State Fair. Every major town and a lot of
your minor towns are going to have a pageant director. They have access to all of these
items and can either rent them to you or point you in the right direction of where to get
them rented.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Seating – You’re going to want to make sure that you have enough seating at the
location. All of your seating is going to face your runway. Again, Google some fashion
shows online and you can see what I’m talking about as far as the seating. They all
want to face the runway and they’re all in straight rows. Most venues will have seating
there, but again, if not you’ll need to consider renting that as well.
Lighting – Check and see what your venue has for lighting. You may also want to rent
spotlights or bring in lighting specifically for the Fashion Show. Again, this can be done
through a lighting company or a party supply company. Also, check with your pageant
director as well.
Sound System – You will need a sound system to run the music through and then to
talk. You will want to be the one talking at the beginning of the show and at the end of
the show, even if just briefly. You need to put a face to your studio to tie this even more
to the show. They need to see your personality coming out through the show.
The music that we use at the show really sets the tone of the entire event. We want our
show to have extremely high energy and get the audience involved and very excited
about the fashions, so in the past we’ve done a couple of things. We’ve used a live DJ.
This is a more costly option, but you can use current pop and techno music that’s mixed
live on site. Then we’ve also used music from Triple Scoop.
The nice thing about Triple Scoop is if you search through there they have music that
works really incredible for Fashion Shows. They have some really high-intense music.
There’s a song called ‘High Society’ that the SPA Fashion Show kicked off with this year
that the kids just loved.
You can mix it yourself on a place called Audacity.com and then you can have that
music to use for videos and slideshows throughout the year, because you’re purchasing
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
the license to use that royalty-free music. So, we like the added benefit that we can
keep the show’s music going and keep the excitement level with the kids going as well.
Projector and Screens – This is optional, but we do like to have a projector on each
side of the runway facing the audience, where we can show images from our model
shoots during the year leading up to the Fashion Show and it’s just more marketing for
We also show a few videos before the show starts just keeping the audience interested.
Another thing we’ve done in the past, we don’t do it anymore, is run a live feed of the
show. Meaning, if you have someone videoing the show while it’s happening and it’s
running on a live feed on the screens, also a fun thing to do. We kind of mix it up a little
bit different each year.
Fashion/Clothing – Another thing critical to putting on a Fashion Show is the clothing;
where are you going to get the clothing. You have some options here. The first thing is
how much do you need.
We try and keep the runway part of our show to between 30 and 45 minutes long.
Ideally it’s about 30 minutes, but it sometimes runs a little bit longer. If you go too much
longer than that people are going to be bored, it’s just a little too much.
So for this to happen, our goal number of outfits is around 120. This is not a hard and
fast number. We have done shows with a lot less and shows with a lot more. It’s just a
good starting place to aim for, but remember to be flexible.
The fashion trends that are coming to our area are what we’re really trying to push. We
use SPA (Senior Portrait Artist), which is SPArtist.com, as our senior marketing
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
education. We belong to them. They do all the work for us each year as far as
researching and letting us know what’s coming out, what’s going to be hitting our area,
but you can also do that research yourself online or elsewhere.
Some suggestions for that would be:
Fashion magazines
Online clothing stores, such as
o Forever 21
o Free People
o Anthropology
o Urban Outfitters
o American Eagle
o Abercrombie & Fitch
o William Rast
o Guess
o Ralph Lauren
o The Gap
So many more, these are just ideas.
Where to get your clothes – There are two or three ways to do this, one is hybrid. My
biggest suggestion for clothes is, if you can, SPA (Senior Portrait Artist) does rent out
the clothes that they use each year in their National Fashion Show. They just finished
their annual show this year in Palm Springs in mid February and I have to tell you the
clothes are incredible. They will blow you away.
They do rent them out to a certain number of studios on certain dates for you to use.
They will ship them to you. They are already labeled. They are already laid out in outfits
and you are welcome to use those. That is what we do. We bring in the SPA clothes
and then we supplement, because we usually have a lot more kids and models in our
show and we need a few more outfits.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Now, to supplement or if you’re doing this all on your own, I suggest you hit some local
boutiques. Find out where these kids shop. Your target market, where are they
shopping? Where are they getting their clothes from? Where do you shop? What’s
really cool? Who can you partner with?
Go into these boutiques and explain what you’re doing. Explain that you are putting on a
Fashion Show to show high school kids what to wear for their senior portraits, what’s
coming up as the upcoming trends in fashion and you want to use their clothing in the
The nice thing about this is that the boutique is going to be getting a lot of marketing out
of this from you. You’re going to be printing their name and logo on all of your marketing
that you do. You’re going to be putting them online. You’re going to give them a great
shout out at the show. You can have stuff printed up. They can also put things in the
hands of everybody that comes to your show.
This should not be a paid venture for you. We have never ever once had to pay for our
clothing. The boutique is going to be getting a lot of benefits out of this so it works out
What we typically do is go in the day before the show in the morning. We go through the
boutiques and select the number of outfits we would like to use from that boutique.
Different boutiques will let you use different number of outfits, usually it’s between about
eight and 15 per boutique.
If you’re going to be showcasing one boutique more or doing all of the clothing yourself
as opposed to being through SPA, you might find that they’ll lend you a lot more. We
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
had one boutique that I think would have lent us their whole store. She had just gotten a
bunch of stuff in from market and just wanted it out of the way.
We usually check out the clothes and then we bring them back to them hung up and
organized the day after the show. So, they’re only gone for about 48 hours from the
boutique. We do check them out officially. We don’t want any bad PR between us, so
we make sure that works out well.
We’ve built some amazing relationships with the boutiques in our town by doing this. It
increases their business. The kids love the fact that they know where to buy the clothes
after they’re done. It’s just incredible.
Another option, I guess, could be to purchase some items. Every year we do purchase
a few items to put with our show, just because I’m out and about and I see something
that’s wicked cool and I really want to put it in the show and it just looks awesome.
So we do, but then I end up either having them for myself or around the studio just to
play with. I don’t recommend purchasing all of them unless you have access to
wholesale, but that definitely is an option to put with it.
Sizes – What size clothing to get for your show? Now, if you’re using SPA’s clothes
they’ve already laid this out really easily for you, but anything you supplement as well as
if you’re doing it yourself you need to think about sizes.
By the time you get to this point you should already have your models lined up for the
show and you’ll be able to get them to send you their sizing information ahead of times
so that you can kind of start laying out what you need to get.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
We get sizing information from our models, top size, jean size and dress size, both
numeric and small, medium, large, so we kind of have an idea roughly how many pieces
we need in which sizes.
The nice thing about many fashions each year is a lot of them are very forgiving.
Sometimes even if you get a skirt that ends up being too big, you can pull it up and
make a dress out of it. You have a lot of options with fashion. A lot of things are
forgiving. Smalls are loose and can be mediums. Larges can be belted. Things like that.
Plus, you will have these kids putting their own clothing basics with the outfits you give
them to create a look. Meaning, they’ll put their own jeans with some of the outfits; their
own shorts. They can put a solid shirt with something. You’ll be able to look and do that
and help them to know what to put with it. These kids have a lot more than you think
and that works out really well.
A couple other things you’ll need, just a little FYI, when you get the clothes you’re going
to need a lot of clothing racks, hangers, a steamer and some gallon size plastic bags.
Now obviously, the clothing racks and the hangers are to hang the clothing on. We get
both of these at Target or Wal-Mart. They have these racks I want to say for about $10
each. I would not put more than three to four models per rack and keep in mind you
need a separate rack for your guys. If it’s a double rack we can put about six to eight
models on it. Meaning, three to four per side and that’s maximum.
Obviously, if you can do with less go ahead, but you don’t want them fighting in there
trying to get to clothes when it’s rushed backstage and that’s how you can kind of
estimate how many racks you’re going to need.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
The steamer obviously, to steam the clothes before you go on the runway and the
gallon size plastic bags we actually put a card in each bag with the model’s name on it
and clip it over the front of the first hanger so that each model knows where her clothes
are in order after we’ve done the fitting. It’s just a nice visual to have and it helps us
when they’re checking in their outfits back after the show.
Models – Now let’s talk about models and I’ll kind of be a little brief about this. A lot of
you know already about our Model Program that we do and it is tied in directly to the
Fashion Show. The way we do it is we make being a part of the Fashion Show an
option for you while you’re being a part of The 3 Girls Senior Model Program.
Over the years this has grown to the fact where everybody wants to be a model and
part of our program. Not everybody can. We do ask them to put down some money at
this point in time as a good faith gesture, but they want to.
So, if you want to be in our show, you have to commit to our studio to be one of our
models, which also locks you into us for your senior portraits and it gives us an
exclusivity right that you may not use or represent any other studio or photographer in
our area or in general. It helps us both ways. They feed each other. The kids want to do
it. It ties them in.
Now, the first year we did the show, however, we didn’t have that. We didn’t already
have a Model Program in place. If you do, great, you’ll be able to tie them in together.
When I say models, we hold this in April of each year. We want it to be right before the
kids get done with school, right before summer starts, so pretty much when they’re
thinking a little bit about senior portraits for next year.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
We want that buzz to start and keep going. So, we are using at that point in time current
year juniors, because remember, these are our next year senior models and we want it
to be the target audience of who we’re trying to hit.
However, our first year that we did this we had models from all four high school classes.
We had freshman, sophomore, juniors and seniors. How we did that is we just
contacted some of the seniors that we had a great relationship with that we had
currently photographed and said hey, we’d love for you to be a part of this. Then we
used them to find more people to be in the show for us, to kind of recruit for us and that
worked out really well.
The nice thing about that is, as we like to call it, keeps our hand in the cookie jar as far
as the future classes go. They already knew about the show now. They’re very excited.
Obviously as they came up they would continue to be our model until this thing kind of
ran itself to where we had just juniors.
Up until two years ago we still had maybe two or three sophomores in the mix, just to
keep the hype going at the level below us. They had to be just the right sophomore
though, but now there’s no way. We have probably a few too many and we kind of try
and keep a little bit of a lock on it.
How many models do you need – Now, in my personal opinion, your ideal number of
models is going to be a minimum of 20 to have a really good show. However, we’ve
done shows with as few as 12 and as many as 50 so far. It can be done, okay?
I’m just telling you, the more models you have the less hectic it is backstage, because
they’ll be able to change faster and get ready. The fewer models you have it can get a
little crazy, but you know what, its fine. You can do it with whatever. Aim for 20, but
don’t stop and see how far you can go.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
The girl to boy ratio – Now, here’s something I will tell you as a personal preference only
of mine. You can do this however you want. I prefer in the entire show, no matter how
many girls I have, I only want three to five boys.
Also, I’ve found that it works out really well if they’re already friends. The reason being,
this gives the guys a very extreme level of comfort and allows them to have fun and
really work it on the runway. They’re sitting backstage thinking of all sorts of fun things
to do when they go down the runway and every flipping year they end up in the
newspaper in our town because of something they’ve done that’s absolutely
If the guys don’t know each other in advance, which we have had before as well, they’re
a little more reserved. Again, this isn’t something noticeable to the audience. This is just
things I’ve noticed in the past. That’s my choice. That’s my preference. It’s what works
for us.
We begin getting our models about three to five months in advance prior to the show.
This way I can get them in and secure them as senior models. I can get them
photographed for promotional items and marketing pieces and then get them excited
before the show. It’s all about buzz. You don’t want to release too much too soon, but
you want to release it and keep it going.
Now, the next thing we do that’s also been really critical to the growth of our show is
that we have partnered with charity and each year we have partnered, starting I think in
the second or third year, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for the show.
The reason being is my main thing is it’s on a personal level. How can I give back to the
community? To me that’s important and this is just one more way I’m able to do it. It’s a
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
great feeling and it’s also a charity that I feel directly impacts high school kids. There are
a million great charities out there, but this is something that the kids and the parents can
relate to really well.
Years ago we contacted our local MADD Chapter and they put us in touch with Loretta
Denman who is our local Chapter liaison. She has been God’s greatest gift to our
Fashion Show. She is the most amazing worker on Earth.
What I will tell you, because this has happened a few times already, is if you do decide
to do a show, you do partner with charity and you’re looking to partner with your local
MADD Chapter, have them get in touch with Loretta Denman from the Oklahoma City
Edmond area.
She will be more than happy to help them with ways that MADD can help you, because
when they go out trying to get donations and to assist us in marketing they have a lot
more contacts because of the charity part of it and just because of what they do than we
We are on the Fox Morning Show in our area every day before our Fashion Show and
they do so much more. It’s just incredible. We feel so blessed to be able to give them
something back. What we give back to them is money in ticket sales and this kind of
starts going a little bit into our marketing.
Our marketing for the show, obviously, is critical. You need people at your show. We let
the main marketing of our show come from our models. If you want to be in our Fashion
Show you must sell tickets to the show and we sell tickets to the show for two reasons.
One is to raise money for the charity, for MADD in our instance and, two, to really assist
the models in promoting the show.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
All of our runway models are required to sell at least 15 tickets to the Fashion Show.
Some years we do more. Some years we do less. It depends on how many people we
want there and then we increase, but kind of get where I’m going with that.
We don’t make this expensive. This is not to keep people from the show. This is just to
give them a way to promote it, basically. The tickets are $5 for students and $7 for
adults. We print these on the 2 x 8 ¼ bookmarks through our lab, which is White House
Custom Color and they look incredible.
The kids take these and sell them. It’s a lot easier for them to say hey, I would love for
you to come to 3 Girls Photography’s Lights, Camera, Fashion. It’s on this date. It’s
going to be exciting. They tell them about it and then they say the tickets are for charity.
It’s so much easier for them to market and help you in that way than it is for a 17-year
old girl to go out there and go hey, want to come watch me walk on the runway? I mean
kids are harsh. They’re going to be a little more oh, well, she’s a diva.
It’s just our way of trying to do that. It gives us a venue that we know how many people,
approximately, are coming. We know it’s being marketed. The way we do that, like I
said, is twofold. The kids are required to sell a certain number and then, to go above
and beyond that, we actually offer cash prizes to the top three ticket sellers.
Now, of course a lot of our models are just lazy, may not care or may not get after it, but
those four, five or 10 that really get after it are going to just do amazing things. I mean
we’ve had models sell 50 and 60 tickets in the past, because they wanted to win the
cash. I mean they’re driven.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Other ways we market the show – We don’t do it traditionally; although, this is one of
the, I think, one or two times a year we do purchase advertising. I only purchase that in
one local media outlet and that is only because of a relationship I have with them. I can
honestly say I doubt we get anyone because of that. It’s just a relationship-based thing
that I do. So, I do purchase and run one ad for the show the week prior to the show.
We also make and print the 11 ¼ x 17 posters through White House Custom Color,
which is WHCC.com, our lab, which is absolutely awesome. We put the models’ images
on here and all the information about the show and then our models are in charge of
distributing and hanging at least two posters as well.
We tell them put one up at your school. Put one up where you hang out, Starbucks,
where you eat. A lot of these kids are involved in sports and cheer and prom and dance
after school and we have them hang them there. We put them in all the boutiques and
local businesses. They hang them for us as well.
Business cross marketing – Any business that we work with in any form both as a
studio in general and as a Fashion Show partner, again, have them hang them for you
as well and then Facebook. Facebook is also our major marketing for this too. We
create a Facebook event and instead of us doing the inviting we have each of our
models invite everyone on their Facebook to the event.
Even if people do or don’t reply, I’m not concerned about that. It’s just the marketing for
it. We post images here each day leading up to the show. We get them excited about it.
We talk about events.
We do, obviously, put it on our Facebook Pages and our Personal Pages and then
another place we do is our website and our blog. Don’t forget about these and keep
them up. I’m not the best at doing it sometimes either in the year, but I am on our
website and the blog.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
One of the biggest things we do here, not only are we going to put the information and
the images up there, that’s a given, that’s obvious, on the website, coming soon, Lights,
Camera, Fashion, stay tuned, we always release things as teasers.
We’re not just going to be like all of a sudden boom. Here it is. Here’s everything you
need to know about it. We are interested in buzz. We want to tease them a bit. Get
them excited. Make them wonder. So, we start, coming soon or stay tuned. Things like
that. Just let them know a little bit at a time. We back up at least about six weeks from
our show and that’s when we start hitting the marketing hard. It also depends on the
number of models that we have.
One of the coolest things that we do on our blog is we introduce our models each day
prior to the show. We put on one model per day. So, remember, back up as many days
from the show as you have models, this year we’re going to have to do a few more, then
we introduce them on the blog.
We do kind of a little get to know you and then we introduce the model themselves and
put so many of their images from their model shoots on that day. I usually do them late
at night or you can use something like Hoot Suite or your blog software to schedule this
to be released. I like to release it between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning.
Here’s another reason it creates a lot of buzz. We don’t tell them in advance when
they’re going to be on the blog. These kids, you wouldn’t believe it, get up every day
and have their parents up checking the blog while they’re in the shower finding out.
As soon as we put them on the blog, we dump them over to Facebook and, I will tell
you, 90% of the time in two minutes it is up as their profile pic. Their friends are seeing
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
it. They’re texting them. They are all over it. So, this gets the buzz going. Everybody
knows about it. It helps us market.
We do very little of the work, except hanging out in my pajamas with a glass of wine
typing up my blog. To me that’s fun. I love to watch the buzz and interest generated
from this. Our growth from our first and second year was tremendous and each year
from that has been just exponential. It’s crazy, I have to tell you.
Some years we do mail postcards. We do this mailing for the Fashion Show scheduled
to hit about two weeks prior to the event. We will be doing them this year going forward.
I think it’s just a fun little addition just to get something in the mail that’s a teaser about
the event. Your friends are going to be there, everything else. So, we want to mail out a
postcard invitation to all the high schools to your mailing lists.
T-Shirts – All our models get model Fashion Show T-shirts from us to wear about four
to six weeks prior to the show. We ask them to wear them at least once a week to
school and then each model is required to wear their T-shirt to school the day of the
show. Again, just last minute buzz. Hey, it’s tonight, come on out.
Email blasts – Email blasts are another way to promote the show. We send out email
blasts to our entire database – clients and prospects – one about three to four weeks
out and then one the week of the show. It just helps to keep reminding everybody
what’s coming up and all that.
The next thing, you’ve done all the marketing, you have your models, you have your
venue, you have your clothes, you’re ready to rock, now the day before the show you’re
going to hold fittings and your dress rehearsal.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
The fittings are held the night before the Fashion Show at our studio. All the girls come
at one time and all the boys come at a separate time, okay? It’s something you may not
have thought of, but trust me, it’s very critical to keep them separate.
We’ve already got our models’ measurements in advance, so we kind of pre fit them
before they arrive by laying out what we want each model to wear. We begin fittings by
having every model put on the first outfit we’ve selected. Once we see which model’s
clothes fit and which don’t we swap and make changes to those that need it.
We will go around with each model and discuss with them what items, if any, of their
own that they need to bring. I mentioned this earlier, jeans, shorts, black tank top, white
tank top, a jacket, do you have a cool red shirt, whatever it needs still that we’ve not
provided. We also go over what shoes to wear with the outfit.
All the models wear their own shoes. We have tried in the past to do otherwise, it is a
nightmare. All the models have shoes; trust me, something that will work. We like them
to have heels to wear at least once if not as much as possible on the runway, just
because this looks even cooler.
Once the first outfits have been fitted and they each know what to bring, we hang that
up on the clothing racks. Remember, we’re going to put the little zip-lock baggie with
their name over it so that each model now has their starting point. Then we finish fitting
the clothes and put them in order behind the model’s name on their clothing rack.
We have paper and pens the night of the fittings for each model to write things down
that they need. Also, not only for the show, but prior to fittings say this about 350 times,
because no matter how many times we have said it every year we’ve had someone that
doesn’t really pay much attention to it, but it’s very critical that you mention to the girls
that they wear appropriate undergarments both to fittings and the night of the show.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
I was surprised our first year how many high school seniors don’t wear underwear or
that wear underwear they may not want other people to see, so definitely mention that.
The other thing you need to mention is most girls will need strapless or self-adhesive
bras. A lot of them don’t think of that and you do not want their bras hanging out all over
the place.
Another thing is perfume and perfumed lotions. They need to not wear that the night of
the show and they need to wear clear deodorant. Those will make the clothes smell
horrible. Just keep it simple.
Dress rehearsal – This is the fun part. Once all the clothes have been fitted to a model
and hung up on the racks in order then we rehearse walking and going down the
runway with music.
Now, we hold this at our studio. We have enough room to kind of have a pretend area
where we do a runway. You could hold this at the location if you have access to it. We
don’t have access to our location and runway until the day of the show.
I’m more concerned that they just get with the rhythm. They’re comfortable. You can
send models down the runway as singles, as doubles. You can send them down as
trios, but that will make the show run faster so I don’t suggest that more than once or
twice, just because of the timing.
When they’re walking, again, I would suggest you look up Victoria Secret Fashion Show
and kind of watch how those girls walk. You’re going to be putting one foot in front of the
other and exaggerating your stepping. It’s very distinct. You want them to sashay and
really move it when they’re walking down the runway. It’s not a normal walk.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
When they get to the end of the runway they’re going to stop and pose. They’re going to
pose with their weight on their back leg. They’re going to walk to one side of the end of
the runway, do another pose, come back and then down. Now, we let the models know
we really want them to ham it up on the runway, really. I mean high-fiving each other,
blowing kisses to the audience, pretending to propose, pretending to check each other
In the past we’ve had a model carry their cell phone down and then hold the phone up
as if they’re taking pictures of the audience, anything they can think of. We’ve had a girl
skip, handstands. I mean you really want the audience to get excited and into it. This
isn’t an attitude-type show, even though they will have some attitudes with some
clothing. It’s very interactive.
Once you’ve gone through the fittings and rehearsals the day of the show you’re going
to come in and decorate your venue, which I’ll talk about here in just a moment. Then
we typically run through the show again one more time prior to opening the doors and
we do that as a dress rehearsal. We’ll have them run through one or two outfits so they
get a feel for changing backstage and the actual music that we’re going to be using.
Now, you will need at least one person backstage on each side, the boys’ side and the
girls’ side, in charge of sending the models out on stage, which is your timing. You also
want people backstage assisting the models with outfit changes and other little things
they might need to help, but not too many people or they can get in the way.
I do not under any circumstance on earth recommend using model’s moms. This is a
bad idea. They’re not helpful to other girls. They can cause drama. Don’t do it. It’s a bad
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Decorating the venue – That’s the cool part and each year we try to do something
incredible as far as display wise on site at the venue. We try and mix it up each year
and always have something fresh to show.
Now, the obvious things, we have a table for them to turn their tickets in right outside
the door. We decorate that sometimes with tool, flowers, candy, T-shirts. Whatever our
color themes are that year we’re going to have that out there.
We do bring portraits from the studio down to the venue, framed portraits and
everything else and we put them on easels all around the venue. One of our favorite
things to do is do a lot of small prints or rep cards from White House. They have the rep
cards that you can order or 4 x 6 prints of our models and throw them all over the floor.
I tell you, it is hilarious to sit there and watch people try not to step on these, because
you don’t really care if they stop on them. That’s the point, but it gets them looking
down. So anything you want them to see definitely toss on the floor.
A lot of times we do 30 x 90 poster prints of each model hung on the wall. That’s if we
have a few models. If we have a lot of models we may do 16 x 20 posters hung over the
walls in this really cool display.
We’ve done a bright-colored candy table for attendees to create treat boxes. We’ve
done tool hung around the chairs. We’ve had the models decorate their own picture
frames in the past. We’ve borrowed furniture sets that go around the perimeter of the
show that are on loan from a local furniture store to create little mini living rooms. We
bring backgrounds and furniture from our studio down there to show. We hang
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
decorative fabrics, anything you can think of, confetti, sequins, balloons, flowers,
whatever. Just make this place totally rock.
Food for the show – A few times in the past we have had food available at the event.
It’s been mainly finger foods and water. Personally, I think you shouldn’t do it. That’s
just my feelings on it. It’s a wasted expense. Nobody seems to care about it. They’ve all
eaten. It’s not a long event to where we need to feed them.
At a minimum, if you do feel the need to have something I definitely think water bottles
are fine. You can have your own images put on the water bottles and then, of course,
last year when we had the treat boxes with the candy table that was really fun. That was
more of a buzz marketing tactic than we’re going to feed you sugar, but again, huge
Hair and makeup – We do hair and makeup for the models the day of the show at the
venue. By our partnership with MADD, they are able to get us in with local salons and
boutiques to bring people in at no charge, trade out for advertising and then do hair and
makeup for the models and that’s awesome.
We really want them to have a runway feel, so we’re really going to do a lot more
makeup with them and just sometimes be a little crazier with their hair than normal. We
call it runway hair and the kids love this. It’s a huge experience item for them.
Now, also the day of show we do a lot of our marketing. We do not book sessions at the
show, ever. We tried it one year and it was the dumbest thing we did, biggest
nightmare. Nobody has money the night of the event to pay for that. They do not have
their calendars. It created more work for us on the back end. It was just a nightmare, so
I don’t recommend doing that.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
What you’re doing here is marketing. You’re creating the buzz that’s going to drive your
business through the year, so we create packets of press-printed pieces that we place
on each chair at the event. Our favorite packet type we use is loose 5 x 7 press-printed
cards from White House placed in a colorful envelope.
Examples of things we’re going to put in the packets – We’re going to put our senior
session information and our annual sale announcement. The one sale we do each year
we hold the day after the show as an eight-hour sale. So, we’re going to announce that
at the show. We will obviously also put it on Facebook and everything once the show is
done so people that weren’t there do know about it.
We put information on entering our Top Model Contest or our SPA Model Contest
through Senior Portrait Artist that gets them excited. That’s an enormous marketing
venture for us every year.
We put offers from our business partners. We put studio information and imagery. We
put some fun items, such as stickers and confetti and then we usually put images of the
models as well and the name of the school they’re from to kind of give them more of
that fame feature.
Backstage – Remember I said to be sure and keep some additional people backstage,
but keep them to a minimum. You need one person in charge. I run our show from
backstage, but I’ve had other people do it in the past. It’s just an organization timing
feature that is all.
This person sends models down the runway and then, of course, having your helpers.
Too many people will cause disruption, so just make sure you have someone tucking
and pinning and going from there.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
The show order – I’m going to give you an example of how our show runs with times
so you can kind of get an idea of how you might want yours to run. We always hold our
show starting at 7:30 at night. Based on that, we open the doors at 7:00 p.m. and we
have music playing over the sound system, either with our DJ or music that somebody
at my studio is running just for fun. At 7:15 we begin videos.
Now, these videos are of our models from their model shoots. We also show a video of
SPA models from the annual SPA event so that we can get people excited into entering
our SPA Model Contest.
At 7:30 I come out and I say a little bit about the show, thank everyone for coming and
introduce myself. I keep it very brief. Then at about 7:32 the first model steps off the
runway. Between 8:00 and 8:15 the show wraps up with all the models lining the
runway. The last outfit of the show is always the models in their studio model T-shirt.
So, no matter how many runs they have during the show, every model is going to come
on stage at the end in their studio model T-shirts.
We then thank all of our business partners and our vendors by name and then
sometimes we have some giveaways. We’ve done it with and without each year. I
definitely think it’s a good idea. We always let our vendors donate something and we
can have people sign up for drawings and stuff. We also remind people of our once a
year sale that occurs the day after the show and go from there.
That’s the high level how our show runs. It’s very intense. It’s very marketable for us. It
has a lot of marketing to it and it’s just incredible.
The models are then taking pictures after the show with all their friends, their family. A
lot of times if we’ve had something special during the year that we’re trying to kick off at
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
the show, like if we had a National SPA Model winner or our studio Top Model winner,
we’ll probably highlight them at the show, maybe give them some flowers and make it
really cool.
Okay, now the show is over. What do you do with this? You’ve done this incredible
show, this incredible high, it’s great and now you’re kind of coming down. What’s next?
After the show is over you really, really want to capitalize on the buzz marketing that this
event has created.
Now, like I said, we hold our annual once a year sale the day after the show. If you do
plan on doing this be sure to plan appropriately to be able to book clients that day;
meaning, if you need more staff to answer the phone or to have someone to stay up
front while you answer the phone.
Whatever that is make sure you’re prepared for that. Even if it doesn’t happen it’s better
to be prepared than to be overwhelmed, because you want to look like a professional
and that you know what you’re doing on this day.
Be sure to send handwritten thank you cards to all of your business partners, your
vendors, charity, anyone like that and then keep the momentum going. We use
Facebook, our website, blog. We interact with our models all the time, just to keep the
momentum going daily, weekly, all that. Create these touch points after the show.
Now, what is hugely important about this, no matter how you think the actual event
went, you must talk about it as if it was the event of the year that was not to be missed.
Your first year may or may not see the turn out you want, so be sure to gage your
success against the fact that this is a new event and it is your first year doing it.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Like I said, we saw exponential growth just from year one to year two and it has just
exploded every year thereafter, but one thing we always did from day one is we talked
about it every year as if it was the biggest and most successful event there was. What
this did for us is it generated and sustained interest and excitement about the show that
carried down to every grade level and grew our business, every grade level.
Again, the reason we hold our show during the week, if I haven’t mention that we
always hold our show during the week like on a Tuesday or Thursday, is it helps get
more people at the show that day and then the next day guess what all the kids are
talking about at school. Everybody the next day at school is talking about our show.
I mean this last year we had texts, PMs on Facebook and everything all over the place.
Nobody got anything done at school they were just talking about the show. So the
people that weren’t at your show, gosh darn, they wish they were and you cannot get
marketing better than that. They all wish they had been there. They talk about it for
Girls come in here knowing they’ve wanted to be in our show since they were freshman.
It’s going to grow, because we always talk about it as if oh, my goodness, it was so
incredible and, you know what, every year it has been.
Our first year, I will tell you, was what I call a first year success. Yeah, there was no
where near the people that come now. We didn’t know much about the venue and stuff,
but nobody else knew that but us, and we talked about it as if it was so incredible that if
you missed it that was your problem. It was your fault. You certainly wished you were
That, in a nutshell, is how we run our show and again, the why is our business. To me
this is fun.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Our budget every year for the Fashion Show is between $8,000 and $12,000. You can
do it for less. You can do it for more. I tell people this up front so that they realize it is an
investment, but here’s the thing. We don’t do direct mail at all. So, let’s say you did and
you did anywhere from three to five to 10 pieces. Add up the cost of printing that mail
and mailing it and you’ll find it’s actually a lot more than we spend on a Fashion Show.
Also, the fact that this is not spent all at one time. This is over the course of a year. We
do a lot of our rentals up front. We purchase things within six months of the show. I
would say the most that we ever have to put out at any one point in time would be
maybe around $2,000 within a two week period.
This is very spread out for us and we do plan for it. We want this to be a huge event.
Now, I find that if I have under spent that I think I need to spend elsewhere, but that’s
just me. I know people that have done it successfully for less, but we don’t like to skimp.
We want this to be so much the talked about event that we’re going to make sure that
happens. Every year we’re going to add something new to it and keep it exciting and,
like I said, that really works for us.
You have to keep it going after the show. The next day you’re going to be cleaning up,
returning clothes. Don’t forget to keep your models excited. Release images from the
show. We have someone come in and shot the show for us because, trust me, I am too
busy and even if I weren’t I wouldn’t have my head on straight to do it.
See if you have a photographer friend that can come shoot the show the paparazzi
style. Have someone video it. You can create some awesome videos and some
awesome still images from the show that will make these kids get and remain excited. I
have to tell you, that alone is just the most awesome thing in the world.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
I hope this has helped some of you kind of see a different way to market your studio. It
has been the single thing that has grown us by leaps and bounds and keeps us excited
going forward. It helps us be different.
We are the only ones in our area doing this and I think at this point for someone else to
do that would be kind of hurtful to their business. You can really establish yourself
somewhat as a leader in your area in the knowledge of what drives senior business.
So, again, I hope it’s helped you guys a lot. Let me give you a little bit of an idea. If you
guys are interested or have any more questions, I am on Facebook as Jen Basford. I
also have our studio Facebook pages as well, which is 3 Girls Photography and 3 Girls
Photography Seniors.
I’ on Twitter, my handle is also Jen Basford. I have a website at 3GirlsPhotography.com
and I have a blog, which is 3GirlsPhotography.com/blog.
Those are great ways to get a hold of me. I am great by email too, but I will tell you
sometimes it does take a while for me to get back to you, but I promise I will do my best.
You can reach me at [email protected] Again, that’s been a great way if
you need to get in touch with me. I would love to see every one of you do a Fashion
Show and have it be a tremendous success and in order to do that what I’ve done is I’ve
actually created a Fashion Show Planning Guide.
It has all of the information and does go into more detail and have some visuals that
would definitely help you guys, start to finish, with what you need to do a Fashion Show,
every little detail. Like I said, I’ve done diagrams of the seating, truly a guide that should
answer every question you have and be able to refer to, to do your own show.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
That is on special right now for a limited time through The Joy of Marketing site. You
can get to that site if you are interested in purchasing that product by going to
SeniorHowTo.TheJoyOfMarketing.com/products. This will take you right there if you
need to do that.
Now, what we have done this year is a little different. I have created the Planning Guide
and Kia Bondurant with her husband, Andy, are owners of Senior Portrait Artist and Kia
is also speaking to you with this High School Senior How-to Event. She has created the
marketing graphics for the Fashion Show.
I will tell you, I love doing graphic design, but oh, my goodness, the time involved to do
this is incredible and Kia has all of it laid out already for you as a separate product, but
we are making it possible that you’re welcome to purchase the Planning Guide from me
and/or the graphics from Kia.
If you purchase them both together I know that we are giving a special price just through
The Joy of Marketing. So, I would highly recommend that, because it’s everything you
need to get started and to make this a tremendously successful event for you. We’re
here to help. We hope that this will be amazing and would love to hear some feedback
from you once you’ve had a chance to do it.
I would like to thank each of you tremendously for listening in. I do love to talk and I kind
of just talk as if you guys were sitting in the room. I hope to meet each of you some day.
I love friends in the photography community for sure. I hope you have a very successful
senior year, that you will try your hand at the Fashion Show and that it is tremendously
amazing for you.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford
Thank you, again, for listening to this High School Senior How-to Event, brought to you
by The Joy of Marketing. Have a great year.
Senior How To Event | Jen Basford