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More on Branding Your Photography Business

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By Skip Cohen

I realized when Scott Bourne and I were talking about branding the other day we spent a lot of time talking about logos, tag lines and the presentation.  The truth is, building top-of-mind awareness for your business takes time and requires a game plan.  Your actual logo and tag line are the easiest of the process.

Building brand awareness is simply about noise – your noise – and it’s got to be consistent and loud enough to get through everything else out there.  You’re literally competing with every person, manufacturer, product and event that your target audience is also listening to!  The key word is “every” – think about that for just a second.

How much email do you get every day that never gets opened?  If you have an iPhone or Blackberry, over half your email is deleted before you even sit down to your computer.  Reading a magazine?  How many ads are in your face and never get read, because you just aren’t interested?  If you’re watching TV and have a DVR or Tivo – is there anybody, unless it’s Super Bowl, who actually watches the commercials?

When you start to promote yourself as a photographer, or any business for that matter, you’re competing with every (there’s that word again) company on the planet who has access to the same space you’re in!   So, your message has to be on target, frequent and identify what you do as a photographers.

1. Weave a web! You’ve literally got to weave a web around your target audience taking advantage of every communication option.

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If you start at “Direct Mail” and work your way around the target, you’ll notice every vehicle is about “reach”.  No single spoke is more or less important, although some have stronger reach than others.  A well placed press release resulting in an announcement in the local paper will hit thousands of potential target customers, while a blog will be much more selective and direct contact even more targeted.

The point is that all of the components work together to build brand awareness and you need to rotate through each one of them.  In the months ahead we’re going to talk about each category, social media, print media, direct mail, email, business cards and networking.   They all play an important role in your campaign!

But for now and this introduction, just get comfortable with the concept.  Building brand awareness takes time, effort and patience.   Most important of all it takes commitment!   If you only do half the job, you will have wasted all previous efforts, so you have to stay on target and remember that with each new type of exposure your momentum grows.

Remember that even the very best marketing analysts can’t agree on how many times you have to hit a consumer before they remember your product.  I’ve read articles that suggest you have to hit a consumer as many as a dozen times before they remember you!  That’s why each method to get your name out there is such an important part of the process.

2. Be consistent!  I love it when I ask photographers if they’ve ever advertised and I hear the answer, “We tried it once.”   Once?  Advertising takes time and consistency and any ad needs to run at least 3 times in order to have any consumer recall.  I don’t know why it sticks in my head still, but the obnoxious kid who did “Zoom – zoom – zoom” for the Mazda commercials had me just about ready to put my foot through the screen when I heard it four times in one hour on the same TV show – but it stuck in my head. The kid might have finally made it through puberty, but all of us can still sing the jingle!

So, whether advertising, tweeting, posting on facebook, whatever the vehicle, you’ve got to be consistent and constantly publicizing your message.  People who blog once a month might as well be on the golf course – whatever they blog is a complete waste of time if they don’t stay focused and run a second blog a few days later and a third and a fourth…  Again, it’s about consistency.

3. Be patient! Remember when you were a kid in high school and you looked at the last chapter of the Algebra book and saw nothing but scary stuff?  Yet, by the end of the year it all made sense.  Your photography has been the same way…that first image was scary and not that good, but as you practice more and more, attend more workshops and webinars, listen to more podcasts and read more articles about your icons and how they create their images it all comes together.

Branding is no different.  Look at the whole picture and it’s overwhelming, but take it one piece at a time and after a few months everything starts to fall into place.  You can’t rush the process.  You have to walk before you can run, so start with an easy segment first.

Okay, this is just meant to get you thinking about the process.   We’re going to talk about every option available for you to expand your reach and build top-of-mind awareness.    The goal?   To get every person in your target area to think of your name every time they need a photographer!

It all starts with your vision, which is nothing more than a well-defined dream.  Your vision becomes a critical part of the game plan to becoming a successful photographer!

“The starting point of great success and achievement has always been the same. It is for you to dream big dreams. There is nothing more important, and nothing that works faster than for you to cast off your own limitations than for you to begin dreaming and fantasizing about the wonderful things that you can become, have, and do.”  Brian Tracy, Motivational Coach

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Written by scottbourne

April 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Marketing

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