by Skip Cohen
While the topic and even a few parts of this post are out of the archives from many years ago, the concept is even more relevant today. With all the noise in our lives you have to work even harder to reach your audience, and with the growth of social media especially, you can add Pinterest and Instagram to the mix below. You need to be working to build brand awareness every day and literally with just about everything you do.
Years ago key members of the marketing community started talking about the importance of creating top of mind awareness. In other words, whenever a potential client thought about your area of expertise, your goal was to have a strong enough reputation/brand they'd think of you first! Obviously, my readership is primarily photographers, and the category I most often write about is photography, but the concept applies to EVERY business.
So, how are you going to get your target audience to remember your name? No one blog post can cover the topic thoroughly, but here's the short version. You need to weave a web around your target consumers. You need to be in front of your target audience at every opportunity.
Here are some things to think about, but this isn't about any particular seasonality in business. These are things you should be doing all year-long so that you're regularly using several different vehicles to reach your target audience.
1) Direct mail puts you in their mailbox.
2) Advertising gets you into the local papers, magazines and other websites.
3) Email blasts and newsletters get you into their computer.
4) Links from everything bring them to your website.
5) Community involvement gets you physically next to them on various projects. This is about you getting to know the people in your community and your neighbors getting to know you. You're looking for the community to be good to you - then make sure you're being good to your community.
6) Publicity releases get you into the local paper, magazines, Internet and the mailboxes of opinion leaders in your data base and community.
7) A great image on a holiday card brings you into their homes at holiday time.
8) Your business card and stationery remind them of your expertise in business.
9) Cross-promoting with other non-competing vendors gets you into their heads via association with other business entities in the community. It's also the perfect way to expand the effectiveness of direct mail and share the cost to expand your reach.
10) Being active in social media gets you into their cyber world and makes you more accessible.
11) Writing your own blog and keeping it fresh with a consistent presence gives you an opportunity to show off your work, personality and your heart. Don't forget, your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart - the two work together to build your brand.
12) Editorial gives you an incredible level of exposure and gives your publicity and advertising credibility, but it doesn't happen by accident. This is where working to build a strong network is so important.
13) Personal contact and simply getting out and introducing yourself to vendors and key people in your community puts you on their radar. As my buddy Scott Bourne has repeatedly written, "Own your zipcode!"
There are thirteen different vehicles to help you stay recognized in your community, and while "13" is supposed to be an unlucky number - stay focused on the points above and you won't need luck. Remember, nothing happens overnight and it takes patience along with consistency and an unwavering dedication to delivering a quality product.
For EVERY business owner - Exceed client expectations and make your work habit-forming so that word of mouth advertising becomes the mortar between the thirteen "bricks" above!
And, for all of you in the business of photography - You have to shoot with your heart to create images that tug at people's heart strings.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.