First Byte: First Bytes are 1-2 minute summaries and suggestions that tie directly to a specific blog post. I'm hoping they're helpful in expanding the topic of the post itself.
The picture above is fresh out of my mailbox yesterday. We received nine different catalogs and it was a relatively light day! Now combine that with email pitches for "Cyber Monday", television ads, radio and even an annoying telemarketing call here and there and we're already coming close to a "Bah Humbug!" moment.
In all honesty, seasonally, this is one of the toughest times to get your message out there and reach your target, but there are things you can be doing all year long to build brand awareness.
- So many of the old standbys in marketing have changed. Today, your strongest tool is going to be relationship building and keeping touch with your clients all year long. Start with your existing data base of past clients and make it a point to find ways to stay in touch.
- Get involved in your community! One of the best ways to build your brand and reputation is for people to get to know who you are. The opportunities are almost unlimited with various charities needing help, the school system, fund-raising events etc.
- Own your zip code. I'm talking about you literally getting out and knocking on every business door in your community, or at least within a 2-4 mile radius of where you're based. Introduce yourself and stay soft-sell. Your purpose is an introduction to your skill set and your willingness to help people in need of photographic support, not a sales pitch.
- Join a couple of the appropriate service groups in your community. Just about everybody has access to everything from small business owners to Kiwanis, Exchange Club, Rotary, etc. Start going to the monthly luncheons.
- Start doing community profiles for your blog. I wrote about this in great detail yesterday and it's a terrific way to get through the noise.
- Make your promotions different! My good buddy Terry Clark once said, "Find out what everybody isn't doing in photography and then do it!" You've got to be creative and come up with unique ideas to make yourself stand out. If you do the same old thing, then the best you can hope for is the same old response.
- In spite of the noise, direct mail and advertising still have impact throughout the year. Look for partners to help reduce your costs, but at the same time be consistent. Your message needs to be out there all year long.
- What do you stand for? It's not as easy to answer as you might think. In today's competitive market great service is going to make you stand out. Having a reputation for keeping your promises and exceeding customer expectations is another aspect of building a strong brand.
- Be fun to work with. I know it sounds simplistic, but the whole idea about being a successful artist is not only having fun yourself, but making working with you fun for your clients. Make yourself habit-forming and working with you a memorable experience.
No one blog post could have all the answers, but if you're sitting there wondering why your phone isn't ringing this time of year, then take a look at the way you've marketed your business all the rest of the year. The best thing about whatever short suits you have is...nothing is forever and you've got plenty of opportunities to keep building your brand.
Rome wasn't build in a day and neither was your reputation!