I called this series "Fast Food Friday" because most of you are right-brain dominant artists, and need reminders on building your business in the form of fast, easy to implement ideas. And, whether you believe in left vs. right brain theories, the point doesn't change. You're artists, and you'd rather capture and create great images than deal with the operational side of your business.
This week summer officially kicked off. The busy season is back and in full swing, but that doesn't mean you can kick back and ignore marketing.
Unlike a lot of past blue plate specials, today's topic is the equivalent of one of those big Las Vegas-style all you can eat buffets. The topic is brand-building and it's the big picture for every Fast Food Friday special to date.
Building a strong brand and creating top of mind awareness for your business should always be your goal. It doesn't happen by accident, so I'm going to give you a fourteen things to think about and then fine-tune wherever you feel they're most appropriate. Remember you don't build your business and walk away - a strong brand is about continually fine-tuning and creating awareness.
Fourteen Ingredients to a Stronger Brand
Building your brand and marketing is about weaving a web around your target audience. It's about being everywhere they are. It really is that simplistic, at least in terms of establishing stronger reach.
- Website: Is your site as good as it could be?
- Blog: Are you posting on a consistent basis? Are your posts relevant to what your audience wants to read?
- Design Continuity: Ever driven by a house that has no continuity in its design? The homeowner has added additional rooms without paying attention to the overall look of the house. It's no different with your business. From your business cards to your website, blog and all support materials like brochures and stationery, you need to maintain a consistent look.
- Facebook: Do you have a business page on Facebook? With parameters that keep changing with Facebook, you need a business page to promote.
- Pinterest: Pinterest can be an incredibly valuable tool for reaching your audience. Remember the target for most of you in the portrait/social categories is Mom and young moms especially are likely to be on Pinterest.
- Twitter: It's not as engaging and interactive as Facebook, but for a young target audience it's still a solid component to keep your name out there and be helpful.
- Instagram: It's another addition to your presence in social media and can be especially effective depending on your target audience. Plus, sharing images gives you a chance to show your work.
- Direct Mail: It's back with a vengeance, but only when it's done right. Remember to bring in partners to share the costs when designing a postcard or brochure. With just two partners your cost is reduced by two thirds.
- Print Advertising: It's still alive and can be effective. However, it has to be used together with all the other tools for reach you've got available. Also, if you're not going to run your ad at least three times in a row, then don't waste your money, and remember to negotiate for a reduced ad rate or editorial support.
- Email Blasts: Again, they're only effective if you do them right. Work with a professional company who can help you create a strong message/campaign. Just an email blast by itself, won't help you much if you don't have a presence in other areas of marketing.
- Publicity: How often are you publishing a press release about some aspect of your business and things you're involved with? Don't forget to send each press release to your email contacts as well, especially opinion leaders in the community.
- Community Involvement: You've got to be involved in your community. People like buying products from companies they perceive as giving back. You're looking for the community to be good to you - so you better make sure you're good to the community!
- Promotions: You need to have something going on each quarter, but it doesn't have to be based on reduced pricing. Look for value-added offers to create. Contact your lab and album companies and look for unique products you can offer as a seasonal bonus. Remember to consider partnerships in building a promotional campaign.
- Networking: Sometimes the most obvious people who should be in your network are completely ignored. Own your zip code - Get out and pound the pavement. Introduce yourself to every business within a 5-10 mile radius of your base location. You don't have to sell anything, just make sure they know you're a photographer and available to help with any of their imaging needs. This is about relationship building.
There are fourteen action items on this list, and within each, there are probably a dozen subcategories. Just remember, they won't do you a bit of good if you can't walk the talk! If your skill set isn't up to par, you'll create more problems that will weaken the components of the strong brand you want to build!
Photography is one of those career fields where your education never stops. Keep working to raise the bar on your skill set and at the same time build your marketing strategy. They all go together!
There's a lot of great content with each post covering another aspect of running a stronger business in photography. They're all just a click away.
And, if there's a topic you'd like to see on the "menu," let me know in the comment section below and we'll turn it into a future special!