Light Up Your Business: Building Brand Awareness With Marketing with Skip Cohen
Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the August 2017 issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.
With lighting as the theme this month, it couldn’t be more appropriate to write about lighting up your business. So many of you have taken the approach of simply kicking back and waiting to see what happens to your business “naturally.” Guess what? Virtually nothing happens naturally in this business, which is why God created marketing.
It’s August, and September kicks off the last segment of the year loaded with opportunities for you to grow your business. So, you have a choice to make: Be aggressive and start planning some activities to keep building your business and brand awareness, or kick back and be natural. After all, sooner or later the phone should ring, right?
Just like building your skill set, marketing never stops. The minute you slow down and don’t have something going on, your business steps back into the shadows. That’s the last place you want to be for your target audience to find you and get excited about what you’re doing and the products and services you offer.
Let’s come up with a game plan or at least a check-off list for you to work with the rest of the year.
Great businesses are built on relationships—not just with your clients but with other vendors. Going into the fourth quarter, look for some partners to help you develop some cross-promotional opportunities. For most of you, your target audience is Mom—so what’s she interested in most? What does she need?
There are opportunities with spas, salons, florists, boutiques, restaurants. Set up a cross-promotion with a florist that ties into something from them when a client schedules a sitting with you, and something from you when they purchase a holiday centerpiece. If nothing else, just work with them, so each of you appears on each other’s site as a suggested vendor.
The end of the year brings a wealth of opportunities, so start planning now. You’ve got to plant the seed using your blog for ideas for family portraits, photography gift ideas, slide shows and ways to capture memories over the holidays.
How about a day-in-the-life session for Mom, Grandma and the kids working on preparations for Thanksgiving dinner? There’s so much great potential for storytelling with a slide show as the finished product. A service/product like this lends itself to a small album rather than just a few prints.
Back to School
It’s the perfect time for that last family portrait of the summer. Come up with a promotional offer supported by some solid blog content about capturing memories, and let’s get those portraits of the kids updated.
Along with the kids going back to school comes a long list of opportunities for you to get involved in, everything from United Way events to school programs.You’ve got to be involved in your community. You’re looking for the community to be good to you, so you’ve got to be good to it. It doesn’t mean you’re always there with a camera in your hands. Look for opportunities to volunteer and put in a little time, even if it’s just serving hot dogs at Friday night football games.
Have You Called Your Lab?
Labs are always coming up with new products for printing and presentation of your images. All it takes is a phone call and one question: “What’s new?”
New products give you a chance to create some excitement in your market for your clients. But don’t forget about some of the old favorites. You might be tired of canvas prints, but that doesn’t mean your clients are.
Is It Time for a Facelift?
I’m not talking about your face, but the face of your business. Your website and blog are as critical today as bricks and mortar were 20 years ago. Your website has the potential to capture new views from potential clients. That means a visit to your website or blog needs to be an experience.
Remember, your website is about what you sell and your blog is about what’s in your heart. They have to work together and have design continuity. Image quality should be top-notch, and the sites should be easy to navigate. In the same way you like shopping at your favorite department store, make your sites enjoyable to visit.
Start designing an oversize postcard for a fall/holiday mailing. Think about how much email you never open. Direct mail is back with a vengeance, but you have to do it right.
I’m a big fan of the many different products Marathon Press offers, starting with postcards. And, with every project you’ve got, their full team of designers and marketing experts can help you create a mailing piece that gets through the noise and grabs the attention of your target audience. All it takes is a phone call to check out what they can do to help you build a stronger business. Check out www.marathonpress.com.
Upcoming Community Events
Who’s shooting the Kiwanis holiday party this year? From the various organizations in your community to the Chamber of Commerce, fund-raisers and the like, get your name out there by photographing at these events.
It’s important to have a specialty at the core of your business, but don’t be a one-trick pony. Diversity helps you grow and establish a stronger relationship with your clients. For example, let’s assume you’re a wedding photographer. Why wouldn’t you want to be there when the first baby was born? After all, you have a great relationship with the couple from the wedding, so show a little diversity and work to become each client’s first choice for any photographic needs.
If you hate the idea of diversifying, then at least develop a referral network with other photographers who complement your weaker skills. The whole idea is to make sure you never say, “Sorry, that’s just not my specialty.” You always want to give clients a solution, whether it’s utilizing your skill set or another artist’s.
Holiday Open Houses
Just because you work out of your home doesn’t mean you can’t host an open house. A studio or retail space is a natural place to host an open house and show your work. If you work out of your home, look around the area for a location suitable for a gallery event, such as a hotel or a restaurant with a private room.
I’ve written about doing your own holiday cards at least a half dozen times over the last few years. No photographer should ever send out a store-bought card. Use your own images for holiday cards and stationery. On the back, at the bottom of the card, just like the Hallmark label, goes the name of your business, website and phone number. There isn’t a better way to remind clients what you do for a living.
Lighting up your business is all about marketing and sharing your passion with your target audience. It’s an all-year thing, even though I’m sharing several ideas more relevant to the end of the year. A strong, successful business is about building relationships and creating an experience for every client you work with—even those who meet you initially only through your website and blog.