Fresh 48 Referrals from Hospitals

I am not an expert in hospital referrals... so I brought in someone who is! Meet Mandie Schug, owner of Alabaster Photos.

How to Fill Your Calendar with Fresh 48 Referrals From Hospitals

Who and I and why am I an expert in local marketing to hospitals?

My name is Mandie Schug, and I am the expert you need for web design and branding photography. With a diverse background as an artist, photographer, storyteller, and a B.A. in Business Administration, I bring a unique blend of creativity and strategic thinking to my work. My passion for old-school marketing combined with my love for networking has allowed me to get this far in my small business.

How to decide which local hospitals to partner with and how to start the relationship?

I knew from the very beginning I wanted to specialize in maternity and newborn photography. Becoming a mother was life-changing (as we all know). I love that I can capture this precious time for families.

With my firstborn, I loved that the hospital had a newborn photographer come into the hospital during my stay to take photos that I would treasure forever. I did have others taken at my home but our babies change so much in those first two weeks. I really love the images from the hospital. Covid shutdown this feature in my hospital for my second born. I was heartbroken and managed to take some of my own while in the hospital even though I was exhausted.

I started my business again a year and a half ago doing free sessions and model calls to start getting my name out there and meeting new people. I was a stay-at-home home for 3 and 1 year old. I needed to get OUT OF THE HOUSE!

I had put a model call out on Facebook for newborns so I could practice posing. At this time I thought I really wanted to do posed newborn photos. I didn’t know there were ‘lifestyle newborn photo sessions or fresh 48’s’. One of the responders was a nurse at the hospital I had given birth at. She said the photographer they had was not planning on returning. She gave me the name of the Director of OB Services and I made a call. To my surprise, the director and I ended up speaking for about 10 minutes about what I could offer. At the time they were not allowing any extra visitors or vendors in but would take my business cards to give to the expectant families. 

Every couple of months I would send updated information through email AND snail mail to the ‘Director of OB’. I never knew the names (except for the hospital I had birthed at) of the Directors and I sent my offers to several hospitals around my area. In doing this the OB Director from the original hospital said she actually was the director for TWO hospital OB and had received my info at both hospitals. She was very interested in my work and in getting me into the hospitals for contracted work but they were still restricted by covid restrictions. 

At the beginning of this year, I started Elena S. Blairs Mastermind. She is a lifestyle newborn photographer and family photographer. She showed me there is another way. I seriously got so NERVOUS doing the posed photography for newborns. These sessions took forever and there is just so much that felt unnatural. Baby-led posing aligned more with my style and comfort. Boom, Fresh 48’s is what I want to do. Baby-led posing is what I want to do. Storytelling is what I want to do. 

I talked to anyone who would listen that I wanted to get into the hospitals for newborn photography. Finally, the Covid emergency is considered over. In May I had a booth at our local Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Conference. I was the only photographer AND the Director of the OB for the two hospitals I had been in contact with who was receiving the award for 'Woman of the Year in Business for our city’! The head of the conference asked me to take her acceptance photo and this gave me face-to-face contact with her. I had a few minutes to properly introduce myself and the idea for Fresh 48’s. Now I had her full attention. This is a way for me to have minimal contact with a new baby and still offer a unique experience for her families that give birth in her hospitals. She said to email her photo ideas and description so she could propose it to the board. I of course did that as soon as I got home. She LOVED it. She proposed it to the board and within a couple of weeks she said they wanted to contract with me. They are still sorting out the contract but are hoping to have me start in August. 

Every family that I get to photograph in the hospital is my ideal client. They want to capture everything about this short time period. Having a newborn changes everything and my desire to tell the family's story about this short precious part of their journey.

The logistics- what is my offering?

I offer Fresh 48’s to any family that has a newborn within two hospitals. They can get all the images for download for $250 or all the images for download and a mini album with a variety of images from the session for $350.

This is a 20 to 30 min session with little to no contact with the baby and prep/conversation with families beforehand. 

Between two hospitals there are 240 births. The exposure alone with not only the families I will be photographing but with staff is huge

What are the actionable steps to make the business connection and start getting referrals?

  • Start talking to people. Tell everyone what you do. 
  • Get really clear about what you can offer.
  • Get involved in one organization where you can network and get to know community members. This will build trust and allow people to get to know in a working environment, not a sales environment.
  • Create community Facebook groups (I have four!)

How to find the right person at a hospital to talk to about Fresh 48 photo sessions?

You could call Human Resources of the hospital but they may not be allowed to give out that info. I have searched and searched on the hospital websites but did not have luck with that. I literally found out the name of the Director of OB at my local hospital by having struck up a conversation with a nurse that had come to me through a model call. You could go directly to hospitals and see if you could find out through the information desk. Again, they may not tell you and you could leave your cards for them with a written note about what you would like to meet with them about. Be patient and persistent BUT not annoying. Just like with our clients, it may take a couple of times for them to be interested in your offer. Sometimes it’s about timing and alignment. This is why I switched up how I connected them. 

The hospital I am contracting will be paying me $5 for a 5x7 that they can send to their families as a thank-you for using their hospital. I seriously kept this low because this is such a huge opportunity for me and I believe the ROI on this will be big.

How quick is my gallery turnaround?

I am working very hard with a new mentor for lighting Sandra Coan so that I can be confident that I’ll nail these images in camera. These are very quick edits. I use Imagen for bulk editing. My turnaround time will be 48 hours.

How to maintain the business relationship?

  • Be reliable.
  • Respond within 24-48 business hours (seriously! I hear so often that they’re ghosted when seeking information. I get so much business because I answer quickly and am present)
  • Work with integrity
  • Become the expert in your field
  • Listen