UNFORGETTABLE BRANDS

unforgettable-brands.jpg
 
201E-500x500.jpg
 

UNFORGETTABLE: "Very special; influential; so impressive that it's impossible to forget."


QUESTION: Is your brand irresistible and unforgettable?

Yes? Amen! Close this right now and go on to your next item today.

Not sure? Read on. This post is for you.


HOW TO STAND OUT IN A SEA OF SAMENESS

Everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to be a photographer these days. We aren't just competing with the pros, we're competing with consumers who have smart phones with amazing cameras.

My point? Great photography is a dime a dozen today. Don't get me wrong, offering excellent photography skills is important and I'm a huge supporter of learning new lighting techniques and improving your craft. But being a great photographer with an amazing portfolio doesn't, by itself, equate to being an unforgettable brand. 

5 POINTS TO BECOMING AN UNFORGETTABLE BRAND

There are 5 major points to master if you want to be a brand that's irresistible. Get these right and you're on your way to standing out in your market place, no matter how crowded it is.

There's an extremely important theme running through these 5 points and that's why they work. Can you pick up on the theme?

  1. You must create an IRRESISTIBLE ATTRACTION at the first point of contact (brand statement/elevator pitch aka "your why"; brand tagline; brand visuals)
  2. You must lead your marketing with an UNFORGETTABLE PURPOSE (your manifesto, belief system + the back story of your brand and how it came to be)
  3. You must have an UNFORGETTABLE CONNECTION made by sharing your IRRESISTIBLE PERSONALITY (the human behind the logo; your authentic voice)
  4. You must share UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES with the clients who in turn share your brand with their friends and social media, all based around how your brand makes a client "feel" when they've experienced it through your products and services
  5. You must have an UNFORGETTABLE AFTER-PARTY (a/k/a an unforgettable continued relationship after the sale)

From the moment you first attract an ideal client all the way through to the sale and beyond, your brand must be unforgettable. Relationship building is the number one priority in creating an unforgettable brand. It starts with the first contact and basically, never ends.

The sales are in the relationships you build, the connections you make, and the transformation you offer to your clients through the experience of your products and services.



THE 5-STEP HOW-TO:

01/ IRRESISTIBLE ATTRACTION:

You must have a message to share that clearly defines your purpose and your mission. My last 2 blog posts have addressed this: until you have a well defined branding statement and tagline, your marketing will be lost in a noisy world online. It will basically be a mass of posts, one after the other, all without clear direction and purpose.

The few photographers that actually have a brand statement and a tagline rarely "market" with them. If they have one at at all, their brand statement sits stoically on their website, never being used as the amazing marketing tool that it can be. 

The "unforgettable attraction" might happen when someone sees your post on IG or FB for the first time or it might be a blog post. Your visuals (logo, fonts, colors), combined with how you market your brand via a tagline and/or branding statement, will impact a potential client immediately.

Example: if someone on Instagram clicks over to your profile for the first time, they are sizing-up your brand in 5 seconds or less. What you've listed in your profile (who you are, what you do, what you're about, what's in it for them) combined with the aesthetics of your posts and branding will cause them to choose whether they follow you or not.

The above example happens every day on the internet regarding your brand. It might not be on Instagram, it might be your actual website or blog or somewhere else that you've posted. It might be your Facebook business page or your Twitter account.

No matter where you are seen online, your brand must create an unforgettable, irresistible pull in order to attract the attention of potential clients.

>>>BUSINESS APPLICATION: Spend time creating your business brand statement and a tagline and start actually using them out there on social media. Lead with them. Market with them. Use them to attract your tribe.

But don't stop there, because you've only just begun. 


02/ UNFORGETTABLE PURPOSE COMBINED WITH AN UNFORGETTABLE STORY: 

More and more, consumers are interested in the core values, beliefs, intentions and story of the brands they are choosing to work with.

You've heard of a manifesto before, but do you have one? It declares your brand's core belief system and most commonly yours as well.

When your brand's core beliefs align with a clearly defined purpose and you combine that with the story of your brand, you have a winning combination to take your potential client to the next level in the relationship.

A manifesto can be used to market the culture of your brand. Try it! You'll be among the greatest and most successful and unforgettable brands (that did and are doing) this very thing: Apple, Levi Strauss, The Holy Bible, Martin Luther King, Google, Nike, Lulu Lemon, etc.

>>>IMPORTANT TO KNOW: One of the biggest stand-out differences of the current rising generation as compared to past generations is that they are choosing brands that stand strong on their core beliefs; brands that actually put these beliefs out into the world for all to see, as in the form of a manifesto. Very important to be aware of this if you are a senior photographer, but also, any photographer because this generation is already 5 years into the consumer market.


03/ UNFORGETTABLE CONNECTION SHARED BY YOUR IRRESISTIBLE PERSONALITY:

Don't throw your hands up and tell me you don't have one and that you're boring. STOP. You're not boring. You have a personality. There are people that only you can reach and connect with in this world. When you are yourself, there are people that like you and love being around you.

Now that we've "tough-loved" through that, let's talk about how it actually works in the world of marketing: you need to get out there in front of the people you want to connect with on a personal, authentic, face-to-face level. You need to be yourself. Your true self. Not the one you hide behind.

Do you hate the thought of FB Live or video? Okay no worries. I won't tell you that you must do live stream or video to be successful, because you don't. But I'll be honest with you and tell you that it's going to take you ten times longer to connect with people these days. Not to worry if you have ten times longer to spend on building relationships.

I'm guessing you don't want to spend ten times longer to build your online relationships, so more tough love here: get over it and just do it if you are a business owner. OR...find someone in your business who can be the face of your brand. That's a perfect solution as well. But it needs to be consistent.

Tips on how to share your personality to form an unforgettable connection:

  • YOUR FACE: #1 fastest and easiest connection is to get your face on FB LIve, Insta Stories, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or a pre-recorded video on your business FB page (number one way to connect, but not the only one...read on). 
  • YOUR VOICE WHEN YOU POST WRITTEN TEXT: Stop "over-thinking" what you should say when you post on social media and instead, talk in your own voice. Talk to me on your instagram post like you would talk to me if we were sitting in Starbucks together having a latte. I see too many photographers talking in a "I'm cool, this is how I talk on the internet but not in real life" voice and it's creating a fake personality. It's not working. It won't work. At some point you will be found out (especially when a client meets you face to face). So feel free right this minute to be "you" on the internet if this rings a bell with you.
  • SOCIALIZING: Invest your time in socializing on social media...post and like and share on the internet. Spend 15 minutes a day doing this with potential customers (come on now, we can all take 15 minutes away from the time we spend in groups to do this...right?) Do this combined with getting your personality out there and you will start connecting at an accelerated rate. Side note: Don't hesitate to do this with your photography friends as well because yes, interacting helps you in the algorithms.

>>>IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY: People like to hang out with like-minded people: people that like the same things that they like and people that think the same way that they think. This is true in real life and it's also true on social media. Once you start posting in your real voice online, you'll start connecting "authentically" with people. They'll be attracted to you. They'll feel "connected" to you and be open to learning more about you by simply "hanging out" with you through social media interactions. 


04/ UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES:

More than ever before, people are choosing to work with and buy from brands based on the transformation they offer. "How will I feel" when I come to your studio and hire you to photograph me? Unforgettable experiences are talked about. Written about. Shared. 

  • One of the best ways for you to take charge of this is to pull back the curtain of your brand experience and share it via Insta Stories, Snapchat, FB Live, video. This isn't a new concept in 2017 and in fact many photographers are now doing this. But...the key is to become more creative, do it consistently and show up with your own face on those shared moments.
  • Video testimonials from clients is a huge opportunity to share the unforgettable experience of your brand. Plan this out after the shoot or after the sales presentation

>>>TAKEAWAY: I'm guessing you have created an amazing "experience" for the client during your photo session. But are you consistently sharing via the amazing opportunities available with social media platforms that are perfect for sharing? Also, are you thinking outside of the box and sharing the "other" experiences in your brand?


05/ UNFORGETTABLE CONTINUED RELATIONSHIP:

I call it the "after-party" and my clients are called my "VIP Clients". Anyone who spends money in my studio is a VIP Client.

Keeping in touch with clients after the product delivery is the number one "miss" by most photographers. It's the number one reason they are "forgotten" two years down the road when a repeat client opportunity arises and this "happy client" chooses another photographer.

This is how to continue the relationship:

  • Create an email list for your VIP clients that allows you to continue the relationship by contacting them a minimum of 4 times a year (more if possible, but no less than one time every 3 months). 
  • Get in the habit of making your VIP Clients the heros of your brand. Write about them on your blog. Share about them in your social media even after the sale.

>>>TAKEAWAY: Want to be unforgettable for life? Want to have your business built in concrete for years to come? Create a system to keep in touch with every single person that spends money in your business.


SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. What steps do you need to take to become unforgettable in a sea of sameness? Do you have your brand statement down to where it rolls off your tongue when someone asks "what you do"? Are you marketing with your tagline? Do you market with your overall manifesto? 

That's truly step one and probably the step that takes the most investment of time and energy. You have to get it right. Nail that and you're on your way to being a truly unforgettable brand.

 


NEXT WEEK: The free download to this mini-course that assists you in creating your very own brand statement and tagline.

Pssst: My coming e-Course "Lights, Camera, Voice Your Brand" dives DEEP into how to make your Brand unforgettable and irresistible + a full curriculum on voicing your brand to your ideal client. Enrollment opens August 28, 2017: 

BRAND STORYTELLING!

THE PROBLEM: "I feel like all I'm doing is posting one photo session after another. I know I need to share my brand...but I don't really know what that looks like online."

THE SOLUTION: Become a storyteller. Share the "experience" of your brand through a variety of visuals+images that connect with your ideal customer and make them want to step into your world!


4 EASY WAYS TO TELL THE STORY OF YOUR BRAND!

So many photographers struggle with this! And yes, my friend, I hear you. It's easy to over-think the process of "sharing your brand story" with the internet world.

But I've got you covered today because I have 4 ways for you to step out and intentionally share your brand...this week.

WHAT IS BRAND STORYTELLING, ANYWAY?

Brand storytelling is basically the easiest and most authentic way to “connect” with people. It’s what makes you interesting to the people “observing” you on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter.

Traditional marketing is about showing and telling the customer about your brand. Storytelling is about invoking an emotion and connecting with your customers.

There are actually 3 parts to storytelling:

  •   Who your business is and why it came to be
  •   What motivates you to be the owner of this business (your “why”)
  •   The “behind the scenes” of your brand

Your story begins with the connection made when the customer hears your name for the first time, when she sees your logo, visits your website, reads your about page and experiences your interactions on social media.

But beyond that, your story is your voice. How you write. The stuff you talk about when you post. The words you use, the tone she hears, the personality that evokes emotion in your readers and listeners.

STOP OVER-THINKING IT

In a nutshell, it’s basic. It’s about being human. It’s about letting your guard down and just “talking” to your audience. Share the story of your brand by sharing the “real inside look” at who you are as a business owner.

Gen-Z teens can sniff “trying too hard” a mile away. They know when they’re being “advertised” to.

Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches. Brand “storytelling” is you…your personality…your perspectives and your interests. Posts that are brimming with your personality will attract an audience…and potential clients.

HOW TO POST

But how do you do this out there on the internet? What does it actually “look like” when you're deciding what to post?

The best way to share your brand is through a mix of sharing your work while also sharing what it looks like and feels like to be photographed by you.

Traditional marketing was restrictive and formal. Storytelling is about “letting your guard down” and pulling back the curtain.

When posting on various platforms, connect with your audience in a genuine way. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s the key to successful marketing: Stop trying to sell and instead, focus on connecting and building relationships. Answer the question of why teens  should care about what your company has to say by talking “with them”

THE ACTION STEPS:

HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO DO THIS...THIS WEEK! VOILA!

Choose one that fits best. Then, plan the other 3 over the next 3 weeks (or, be inspired to create your own ideas).

01. CELEBRATE A CUSTOMER: You thought "Brand Storytelling" meant you were going to talk about your amazing brand? Right? Wrong...sort of. You're going to tell the story of one of your customers this week. A real, live, human story. Someone you want to feature because of a particular "something special" you connected with. Something that moved you. Something you want to celebrate and post with an image (or a few images via the new IG slidesharing). 

Tell the story, authentically, in your own voice through your own eyes. This is your brand sharing your customer's story. This type of storytelling is powerful.

02. SHARE YOUR "IT FACTOR"...YOUR STAR QUALITY: Ohhhhhhhh. Yes. THAT. Of course you need to know what makes you different from your competitor. And if you read my newsletter last week you did the homework assignment that led you to really exploring what that is.

So now, share it. A raw, open statement about that "thing" that sets you apart. Pair it with an image or images that you feel expresses it. Consider posting a video. Or an image with your branding statement over it with a "real" story of what you're all about. You can do this. You really can.

03. SHARE A CLIENT TESTIMONIAL---VIA VIDEO: Everyone wants to hear about rave reviews! In fact, it's the number one way consumers are choosing brands these days! What better way than to ask one of your clients if you can video their excitement after the photo shoot, image reveal, or product delivery! Yes, rave reviews are everywhere these days...but using the power of video is unique. At least for now it is, until everyone starts doing it! Be a leader.

04. TIME TO GET PERSONAL: When was the last time you shared the "you" of your brand in a post? Okay, listen, I know this can be hard. But trust me when I tell you that this creates a "huge" connection with your audience. 

Share something they don't know about you. Consider a hobby or a passion. Or, share something like "10 things you may not know about me"...and then post a fun image of yourself. Better yet, do this via video. Your audience will love it.

So there you go. 4 different ways to connect with your tribe by sharing your brand in compelling and storytelling posts.

Share one each week over the next 4 weeks for impact...or use your own ideas. It will move you closer to the concept of authentic brand storytelling to connect deeper with your followers1

Happy brand-sharing!


Did you miss the article about "How to Create Your Brand Statement"? Check it out here:

YOUR BRAND STATEMENT

 

THE PROBLEM: "I know I should have a brand statement...but I don't even know where to begin!"

THE SOLUTION: My 4-step process that forces you to ask...and answer...the very questions that will help you arrive at an authentic brand statement that you love.


You've heard it called your "why"...or an elevator pitch...and you might even have one. 

You might have it on your website or you might have it 1/2 written as a stiff "statement" that you've tried to memorize.

But when you're asked to repeat it at one of those photography seminars in front of your photography friends, you awkwardly recite it like it's a 6th-grade homework assignment.

Fast-forward to real-life business in 2017: the modern-business branding statement. 

You need one. And...you need to get this right. Finally. Once and for all.

I'm not talking about a "memorized statement" that makes you feel cold as ice when you have to repeat it.

I'm talking about an amazing, exciting description of the people you serve and how you serve them, packed into 2 or 3 sentences that roll off your tongue "like buttah".

It should make the person you're telling actually feel like it's an irresistible invitation to step into your world, now. Like, right now.

This branding statement stuff is important. Really important. 

Why? Because when you get it right you will finally have clarity about your brand and who your audience is that you're wanting to connect with.

There are 4 questions that you should spend time with in formulating your brand statement.

These 4 questions seem very simple, but if you spend time really contemplating the answers, you'll arrive at the basis of your entire brand.

The authentic answers will come when you really invest some real time with this process. 

You can ask for feedback from recent clients to help you with number 4, but in the end the answers all have to feel legitimate and honest to you. 

If you can answer these 4 questions, you'll ultimately arrive at the foundation of your branding statement:

THE ACTION STEPS

Ready? Here we go.

01. YOUR SPECIALTY: WHO ARE YOU? And what are you all about?

02. YOUR SERVICE: WHAT DO YOU DO? Okay, so you "take pictures"...but...of what? What is it that you exactly do?

03. YOUR AUDIENCE: WHO DO YOU SERVE? No really. Who...do you serve? If you were to describe your client to me, who would that be? Where to they hang out? Who are you trying to bring into your business to experience you and your brand? Who do you DO all of this for?

04. YOUR STAR QUALITY: WHAT IS YOUR *IT* FACTOR? I know you just answered #1...and #2...and it feels like you pretty much summed up who you are and what you do. But what makes you stand out from everyone else? Why should I book you to take my photos? What's extra special about you and your process?

Arriving at the authentic and descriptive answers to these questions can be tedious. At first, they seem overly obvious.

But in the end, these answers should arrive at the very essence of your less-than-60-second "elevator pitch" to anyone who asks you "what you do". 

The answer should HOOK them into wanting to know more about you and your service. 


WRITER'S BLOG-BLOCK?

DO YOU EVER HAVE BRAIN-FREEZE WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING A BLOG POST OR EMAIL LETTER?

Keep these 7 things in mind when creating that content or letter:

As readers, we crave:

1/ Uplifting info that reminds us that dreams really can come true. Positive quotes, concepts, stories all reinforce this.

2/ Content that tells a story. We love reading stories that relate and make a point.

3/ Anything that makes us laugh or smile. We love to feel good after a read.

4/ Content that inspires us to take action. Motivating content wins.

5/ Info that educates while inspiring us.

6/ Content that reminds us of the all-important basics in life that we tend to lose perspective of.

7/ Something that surprises us at the end.

Hopefully these 7 points will break the brain-freeze for you. If you need specific topic ideas, grab my free "50 Ideas List" at the link below.

 

CRUSH YOUR GOALS

 

Can you believe it's the end of the FIRST QUARTER of 2017?

Time to check in...how are you doing with those GOALS you planned in January? 

Well, not to worry if you've missed the mark because I have a free self-study course that will get you back on track.

It's called The Crush Goal Plan. It's is a 5-Part System for setting goals...and actually achieving them. 

Part of the secret sauce of achieving goals is in the DAILIES, aka, daily blocks of time devoted to working on "projects-only".

I've used this system for years...since my days in an extremely stressful and busy corporate job. What I learned back then is that a "To Do" list is not something that ever goes away...it's a revolving list that changes every day.

But it's also a list that can consume every moment of every day...unless you set boundaries with it and actually schedule in "daily time" to work on a goal! 

Waiting for the all-elusive "perfect time" is unrealistic. That perfect time never comes.

Through the years, I've learned to incorporate "block-scheduled time" to allow myself 30 to 60 minutes every single day to work towards the accomplishment of a project or goal.

It's truly the only way I have found to actually find time to work on "projects" that are outside of my daily workflow. I've learned to BLOCK OUT TIME for them.

This truly is where the “secret sauce” is. The most successful entrepreneurs work on their project-goals every day and it’s the single thing that sets them apart from those that don’t reach their goals.

It’s easy to get lost working “in” your business; it’s important to also work “on” your business.

Block out 30 to 60 minutes every single day to step away from the every-day workflow of your business so that you can devote actionable time towards the goals that will elevate your business.

INTERESTED IN THE CRUSH-GOAL SELF-STUDY COURSE? IT'S FREE. AND IT WORKS.

 

THOSE TIME STEALERS!

The year is moving along at a steady pace and you're working on those goals you set at the beginning of the year (quite possibly with the VYB Crush Goal Plan). You may already feel like you're slipping back into old habits.

Beware: The Photography Time Thieves.

1. SOCIAL MEDIA. But wait! This is the very thing that ties into your marketing plan, right? Yes and no. Done the right way, the planned way, yes. Getting distracted and ending up on every FB group page you belong to, checking out 5 photographer's business pages, replying to a few personal FB messages and then finding yourself over on Anthropologie's sale page 1 hour later, isn't. Best practice: use the 30/30 app to control your schedule so you aren't wasting precious time searching for things you didn't care about in the first place. 

2. EMAIL. Don't get me wrong, replying to your business emails promptly is critical to good customer service, but replying all day long every time you receive an email is not an efficient use of time. The experts on this subject of time management and your inbox suggest not checking emails in the morning until you've accomplished several major tasks. And then, only check emails 2 scheduled times a day. May seem a bit stringent, but beware of the wasted time you spend replying to every email and being available 24/7 for your clients. 

3. YOUR CELL PHONE. Separate from Social Media, above, there are so many distractions on our cell phones that it's become an epidemic across America. Cell phones are disrupting family meals, coffee dates with friends, and most importantly, valuable working hours that could be spent connecting with a potential client through marketing efforts. If this is an issue for you, consider putting self-imposed rules in place that restrict the times during the day you allow yourself to pick up your phone for anything other than incoming calls.

4. NOT USING A TO-DO LIST OR APP: Spending a few minutes each day planning out your tasks around your editing and photo sessions it the best guard against wasted time. Unplanned days allow for time robbers to creep in such as all 3 items listed above. Structured days actually support efficiency and you'll usually end up with more time to do complete important tasks.

5. THE YES I CAN DO IT ALL SYNDROME: Because no, you can't. You're only one person and there comes a point where you either 1) must say no, 2) hire help 3) outsource. Learning to say no to things you really don't to do anyway will free up much needed time to do the things you know will promote your business and declutter your life.

Ready to CRUSH your goals once and for all? Are you like most people --- goal setter without being a goal achiever because life gets too busy? Achieve your goals using my 5-Step sure-fire system that walks you through exactly how to create success in your life. It really works. Ready to do the work?

 

 

10 TIPS FOR EMAILS

Are you using the amazing marketing tool that is completely and 100% controlled and owned by YOU? If not, I highly (emphasis on highly) suggest you add this to your "do it now for the success of my business" list because it's the single most important thing you can add to your marketing success.

5 STEPS TO A LAUNCH

Do you want to the know the "secret success" of my model program launch? It boils down to one thing and one thing only: excitement. Seriously, I make it feel like the party everyone wants to go to simply through my planned out, strategized postings online.

It's much like planning a party. If you had a big bash planned several weeks out, you would have it completely planned before the big day, right? You wouldn't run out on the day of the party and order the cake, buy the decorations, reserve the extra chairs, hire the caterer. You would have planned these things before hand.

1/ PLAN AHEAD. Marketing online is much like planning a party...except everyone is watching you plan the party. They are seeing the fun, the crazy, the hoopla, the sneak-peeks. They sense the excitement and they want to be a part of it because you're making it feel and look like an amazing, incredible experience that that is a huge build-up to the big day!

2/ CREATE A SEQUENCE OF POSTS: In the case of your senior model team, the "big day" would be the day you either release the model application for everyone to apply and/or the announcement of the chosen models. It could also be the steps leading up to a special themed photo session, or a big "closed door event". Regardless of the actual "thing" you are leading up to, there should be a series of steps revealing the big reveal.

3/ DON'T REVEAL TOO MUCH AT FIRST: The initial posts should be considered a "teaser" of things to come with a caption that is more a statement of assumption (in other words, assume the viewer already knows about the "event/happening/etc" so that there is a sense of ---what did I miss? What's going on?!).

4/ MULTIPLE PLATFORMS: Use all of the platforms you are on to push the hype. Keeping in mind, seniors are on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram the most out of all of the available platforms out there. Your posts should be native to each platform and they should make sense for where you are posting.

5/ BRING IT HOME: The big day should be a huge splash of the reveal. It's what you've been leading up to. Too often this is a letdown for everyone watching because the poster doesn't make it big enough---so it's up to you to post a huge splash with cross-platform posting for maximum exposure and punch.  Use all of the tools available to you to do this including visuals, video, apps and sound. Oh. And don't forget the after party.

Plan, Strategize. Execute. That's online marketing at its finest.

Want to see this plan in action on our latest TFS Model Team application release? Images and a step-by-step dissection of this plan at the link below:


STORIES...ON INSTAGRAM!

Mark Zuckerberg means business. When he offers you $3 Billion to buy what he wants from you...be preapared for war if you say no.

Snapchat is wildly popular and Mark saw it coming before the world did...that's why he approached Evan Spiegel several years ago to buy the platform.

Fast forward to today...which is literally DAY TWO after Instagram rolled out it's copy-cat version of Snapchat Stories. 

I think all of Snapchat-nation was initially disgusted and put-off by the move. Especially teens, who appreciate and adore ORIGINALITY in Brands. Nevertheless, it's here. And it's here...to stay.

As a business owner, I'm going to share my opinion and my plan. Ready?

But first...let me share the "real story" first. Here is my reaction after the announcement was made:

  • First 15 minutes, grumble. Moan. Groan. Yet another "thing to master and figure out". Hide behind the disgust that they copied Snapchat.
  • Open up the app. Actually try it. Hate on it for a few minutes. 
  • Wheels start churning. Realize...in disgust...and unwillingly...that this...might...be...good...for my business. But question whether teens will like it.
  • Realize Teens will watch their favorite brands...no matter what. Even if they refuse to participate themselves. Besides...their moms...are a huge part of my Instagram audience. Hmmmm....
  • Wheels continue churning. Put my business hat on. Realize I can't fight against Mark Z so might as well figure out how to make this work in my business
  • Jump in. With both feet.
  • Fall in love. Decide to make a strategy. Before the end of Day 1. 
  • Officially on board

Okay...so here's my OFFICIAL take:

There are 400 million DAILY users on Instagram. Most of them are NOT on Snapchat. They will use stories. Mark Zuckerberg and IG CEO, Kevin Systrom, are smart leaders in the social space and they are banking on it (literally).

THIS IS COMPETITION...AT IT'S FINEST.

Did they copy Snapchat? YES. Are they taking credit for the platform? NO. 

The CEO of Instagram was quoted as saying, when accused of the copy-cat move: "“When you are an innovator, that’s awesome. Just like Instagram deserves all the credit for bringing filters to the forefront. This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.."

Oh. Wow. Okay. So there you have it.

HERE ARE 5 REASONS YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED ABOUT INSTAGRAM STORIES:

1. INSTAGRAM IS HUGE. And successful. There are 400 Million DAILY users on Instagram. And your following on IG is probably much larger than your following on Snapchat.

2. FAMOUS BRANDS & CELEBS ARE JUMPING ON BOARD. While it's true that teens are pushing against the new feature, you can bet that they will WATCH the stories of their favorite Brands (Free People, Urban Outfitters, Celebs, and so  many more have already jumped on board and this is just Day 2).

3. SNAPCHAT PROVED THAT IT WORKS. You know that I've been a huge supporter of "pulling back the curtain on your brand" for a long time. I believe stories on IG will WORK and it will be BIGGER than...Snapchat. Will I abandon Snapchat? NO! I believe there will be 2 cultures. This will work and I believe we can EXPAND into a broader base, sharing our authenticity and the sneak peek of "inside our brands".

4. PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY FOR AUTHENTICITY: And real-life "stories" allow you to invite your INSTAGRAM AUDIENCE inside your brand!

As for me, I've decided to put the grumbling behind me and put on my marketing gloves...and box this one out in the ring of success...because it's a NEW tool to use on an audience that I ALREADY have! 


DID YOU KNOW? SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE "NEW BUSINESS CARD"! 

 

 

 

SNAPCHAT FOR PHOTOGS

NEWSFLASH: Snapchat is not just for teens

I seriously have a love-hate relationship with social media. There are days I love it because I am excited to share something and connect with my audience; then there are days I loathe it---because I feel I HAVE to share something and connect with my audience! I'm a firm believer in choosing only the social media platforms that you can commit do doing consistently and doing well.

Snapchat had been on my radar for over a year before I jumped on board. I was resisting. Actually longer...but I downloaded it the month it came out, got confused and never opened it again.

Until last spring. And now...I'm an official snapchatter.

I was resisting this new social media platform because I simply could NOT wrap my head around one more "thing" to have to do online. I resisted until I was with a group of my senior models doing a photo shoot and I noticed them doing what they usually do: selfies and group-selfies to post to what I THOUGHT was Instagram. Wrong. When I reminded them to use the hashtag #tfsmodel and #terifodeseniors, they all looked at me with blank stares and then one spoke up to say, "oh, we aren't posting to Instagram, we're snapchatting."

First light bulb moment: I realized then and there that what I had been resisting for over a year was a social media platform that was not going away. It was here to stay. And not only that, after doing some research about Snapchat that night I realized it was the largest used social media platform only trailing Facebook and Instagram.

Evan Speigel, creator and CEO of Snapchat,  is a 24 year old genius backed by some pretty major money and just turned down a cash offer from Facebook last year (thus, Zuckerberg) for 3 Billion dollars. THREE BILLION DOLLARS.

No, snapchat is not going away. Snapchat is growing and improving and causing the BIG companies to take notice and jump on board with their brands to reach their customer base through an inter-active, live-feed media voice using a platform that already has MILLIONS of Millennials.

Second light bulb moment: Snapchat went mainstream in early 2015 mainstream. Through "Discoveries" we can now view live-stream and interactive images and videos from such brands as Cosmopolitan, CNN, People, ESPN and more. Large companies are jumping on board this trail-blazing new platform and sharing their brand in a relevant and live-feed manner that is interesting and successful.

So. PHOTGRAPHERS. How can WE use snapchat? In many, amazing and relevant ways to our businesses. Think "real-life" and "live-stream" behind-the-scenes on your photo shoots or model creative shoots. Or a string of photos mixed with video clips of your day, as in, "a day in the life of a photographer". ANYTHING that we show on Instagram can be shown in real-time and in more depth on Snapchat. Not only that, but cross-marketing from Instagram over to Snapchat and vice-verca is an amazing marketing strategy to pull more teens and potential clients into your audience (ie, "be sure to follow our live photo shoot action over on Snapchat today with Brooke on location!") There are endless possibilites with Snapchat including a sneak peek into your day including the crazy, fun and zany experiences you might have together with "senior takeovers" of your live feed while on a photoshoot.

Why consider Snapchat? The teens today love authenticity and real-life moments. They crave real-time connection and the imperfection of real-life before the editing of a photograph takes place. THAT is what Snapchat is all about.

Oh...and don't be thwarted off course when your own teenager says "mom, NO parents are on Snapchat!". That's what they said about Facebook AND Instagram, remember?

Information about Snapchat here:

SNAPCHAT FOR BEGINNERS! (SENIOR STYLE GUIDE)

THE COMPLETE GUIDE: HOW TO USE SNAPCHAT FOR BEGINNERS

WHY MILLENNIALS USE SNAPCHAT

SNAPCHAT: THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

PS: join me---I'd love you to follow me over on Snapchat --- you'll find me under [ terifode ]. See you there!

WANT MY 5 TOP MARKETING IDEAS FOR SNAPCHAT? This is a list of tips and ideas for photographers using Snapchat as a marketing tool:

 

SOCIAL AUTHENTICITY

"THE DOORS WILL BE OPENED TO THOSE WHO ARE BOLD ENOUGH TO KNOCK."

OH. 

And master social media.

Ha! Right? Don't you feel like you've been inundated with a 2nd business--the business of mastering social media marketing? All of the latest platforms, the updated changes, the new this and the new that.

It's a crazy (technical) world we live in. And as business people, it's simply a must to be in the know as far as how social media fits into our daily workflow.

Well, this post is simply to let you know that you aren't alone in feeling overwhelmed. And also, I'm sharing a few "general tips" that will hopefully help you take a step back and get a perspective on the pressures set before you.

1/ YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE EVERYWHERE. There. Feel better? Choose the top 2 platforms that you like to be on and feel a comfort level with...but make sure your target audience spends time there too. Then, disregard the other platforms until you feel you are planted firmly on these 2 you've chosen.

2/ BE REGULAR AND CONSISTENT. Now that you've decided to eliminate all distractions of all social media except for your 2 primary platforms, settle in. Roll up your sleeves. Dig deep. By that, I mean, have a regular schedule that you post daily. Learn the native application and use of the platform and simply commit to being there on a regular basis.

3/ SOCIALIZE. Comment and communicate with your followers and commenters! It isn't called "social media" for nothing. Consider it a party; you wouldn't ignore people that speak to you at a  party right? The same applies on social media. Your goal should be to build relationships.

4/ BE GENEROUS WITH LIKES AND PRAISE. The statement of "what goes around, comes around" is very true and applicable on social media. Good rule of thumb: don't be a taker without being a giver. Share and spread the good vibes.

5/ BE HELPFUL WITH ANSWERS. If you see questions or conversations on other posts, join the community by helping with the answers that come easy to you. Again, as in #3 and #4, this builds relationships and that's truly the name of the game.

6/ BE AUTHENTICALLY...YOU. That sounds easy enough, but so often I find people talking "different" on social media than they do in person. This doesn't work when your goal is to build relationships. You can keep that from people you'll never meet, but what about the clients that follow you? Be you, do you. It always works.

 

TIME FOR GOAL CHECK-IN!

AMBITION fuels your business goals but ACTION causes you to actually achieve them.

How are you doing on your 2016 business goals? The secret-sauce is in step #5 of the CRUSH Goal Plan: daily action steps.

Reaching a goal has to do with a process, done in the right order. Most people know what they want to achieve, but halfway into the process, they get distracted with the busy-ness of life, and a million other things get in the way. Before you know it, the enthusiasm and ambition that was once there has dwindled.

The last step in my CRUSH Goal Plan, Step 5, has to do with the ACTION STEPS that get the job done. The actual "daily" process of pulling 1 to 5 actionable tasks into your daily workflow.

The daily action steps are as a result of an overall plan that includes reverse-engineering a complete master "brain-dump" for each focus goal.

It starts with a goal, a vision. And it ends with actionable steps that become the segue to success.

If you're CRUSHING those goals this year, send me a note and let me know your experience and process. If you are interested in getting started, download the FREE goal-setting plan below.

 

TEENS ON SOCIAL

TEENS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: WHERE ARE THEY AND HOW DO THEY USE SOCIAL?

As a senior portrait photographer, it's important to understand how teens use social media and where they spend their time. There's been a lot of chatter about teens leaving certain platforms and becoming less interactive on others. So what's up for 2016? Read on. You might be surprised.

TEENS AND...GULP...FACEBOOK

Newsflash! Most teens have NOT left Facebook! It's true, they aren't using FB like they used to, but they are most definitely still on it. The difference? They tend to lurk more than share. And we definitely know that they are there much less. On average, for the teens that still have a Facebook account, they report to "checking in" once a week on average.

Teens are using FB to stay up-to-date on topics that interest them. The other big reason they are on FB---ready for this one?---is to stay in touch with and observe the "college lives" of their older classmates that graduated ahead of them.

After high school, college students use FB as their main social media platform. The next big step for a senior in high school is college so they are curious and interested in following the lives of the classes ahead of them and observing the "college life" that they will soon be living. If your current seniors eliminated their FB accounts awhile back, you can bet that they'll be signing up again mid-way through senior year if not sooner because of their looming college days ahead. Besides, all colleges are on FB and they have social groups there. Seniors know this. Bam.

One of the biggest boosts for FB has been the easy consumption of short videos. Teens love quick and entertaining videos and this has been a huge pull on that platform. Take note of this and consider pulling it into your FB marketing similar to how you might use Snapchat. Behind the scenes, video product-reveals, studio happenings will all translate well in the FB feed.

What does this mean for you and me as senior photographers? It means that there is still a reason to be on FB for the lurking senior high school student as well as continuing to market to their parents. Granted, teens aren't there as frequently as they used to be, but having a presence on FB can absolutely benefit the senior photographer.

TEENS AND SNAPCHAT

By now most senior photographers have embraced the amazing benefits of Snapchat for reaching and "entertaining" teens. Snapchat Stories are excellent for reaching the teen genre. More than anything, it's a perfect platform to "connect" with them as well as giving them an authentic look into your brand.  KEY WORD: "authentic look".

The best way to use Snapchat  is in its intended, native format: real time. There are apps out there that allow you to upload "older photos" but when doing this, you're missing the whole point of connecting "authentically" with teens. They want to see what's happening "right now" as you post your story, not a "prettied-up version" of your behind-the-scenes. They can get that on Instagram.

Keep in mind...authenticity is important to teens when it comes to using brands. It's important to understand how a teenager uses a social media platform and then use it the same way in order to authentically and genuinely share your brand with them via behind-the-scenes, product reveals, real-life personal stories, etc.

Using Snapchat to "trail your brand" as if telling the story of your day-to-day studio happenings and a bit of your personal life is the best way to capture the attention of your teen clients. Don't miss this important point. Be willing to pull the veil and let them peek into your real day and life without the perfection of editing and color-enhancing.

TEENS AND INSTAGRAM

They use it and they love it. But they don't post on it as often as you might think. Which isn't a bad thing for us as senior photographers except when it comes to managing a Senior Model Team. That's where "direction and requirements" must come in. We need to tell them what we expect as far as "posting model images" go, and then make it easy for them by sending an already-cropped, ready-to-post Instagram image.

One thing to note: teens communicate back and forth with each other in the comments of their posts. Sometimes their comments go on and on. But they are very conscious of how often they actually post on Instagram.

Just as we know ourselves, posting too often on IG will fill up the feed of our followers and is viewed negatively if overdone. But beyond that, there is an "unspoken" rule with teens that posting on IG isn't something to do regularly.  Just chalk it up to the fact that it's simply a "teen thing";  be aware of it and be prepared to "ask" them to post your images.

But don't let that fool you. Their lack of posting doesn't equate to how often they are actually on the platform. They follow the brands they love and keep up on what's in and what's new over on IG. It's one of their favorite sites to be on. Marketing your brand on IG in an "authentic" manner and with regularity will help make you one of the brands they want to follow.

TEENS AND TWITTER

Twitter is the "public" chatter of choice between teens and their friends. While Snapchat is used privately between teens as a means of communicating, Twitter is their choice of public communication where the posts are short and the feed is a firehose of rapid-fire commentary.

While teens "lurk" on FB with rare posts, Twitter is all about quick statements and public opinions and chatter.

Now that Twitter has pulled images into its feed, it's a great way for photographers to connect with teens on that platform. If you haven't chosen Twitter as one of your "main platforms" (remember, you don't have to be everywhere), you can still have a regular presence by connecting your IG to Twitter with native images through IFTTT app.

Keep in mind: connecting IG to Twitter is only a fallback approach as it's not highly regarded to post the same thing on Twitter as you do IG (why would they want to follow you at both places if it's the same content?), but better than not having a presence there at all.  And it's also a great way to get "images" over there in between short tweets you post in between.

THE TOP SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS USED BY TEENS:

  • INSTAGRAM
  • SNAPCHAT
  • TWITTER
  • FB
  • VINE

 

5 CLIENT HOT BUTTONS

How well do you know your customers? When we're wearing our business hat, we tend to forget what it's like to be the customer. Here are 5 things customers wish businesses knew about them. Can you relate?

01/ I WANT GOOD SERVICE OVER FAST SERVICE: When it comes to luxury brands, high-ticket purchases and important decisions, customers prefer competent, good, quality service over quick, fast and easy. Also, "rude and impersonal" service has been cited as one of the biggest reasons customers leave a brand. 

02/ I LOVE A PLEASANT SURPRISE: Receiving something completely unexpected as a result of purchasing a product or service results in happy customers who talk and recommend the a brand to their customers. With social media being as big as it is, this could be the very thing that catapults a business into super-success.

03/ I WANT TO BUY AN EXPERIENCE: Customers want to buy a "feel good" experience over a thing or product. Experiences result in great memories. Customers are willing to pay more for this when it's offered in the right way. 

04/ I'M IMPORTANT AND I MATTER: Customers simply want to know that you value their interest, investment and time. This is the old "make me feel like I'm your one and only customer" concept. It works because...it matters. To the customer. And your business.

05/ COMPELLING BRAND STORIES MOTIVATE ME TO BUY: With the explosion of the internet, brands now have the ability to "tell their backstory and their why" more than ever before. And guess what? The customers are listening because they want to know about the companies and brands that they buy from.  Tell your story. Be authentic. Your customers are interested. 

Speaking of the internet (and, "social media"), want to know 5 Tips to deepen your social media presence?  Read on here: 



BUILDING A LUXURY BRAND

Many of you may know that I started my business 10 years ago with much pressure to replace the 6-figure a year income I walked away from when leaving my corporate job. But did you know that 

I BUILT A 6-FIGURE A YEAR BUSINESS FROM MY TRUNK?

Ha. Yes, it's true. I built my entire business from zero to 6 figures in 18 months...without a studio. Not only that, I didn't even have an appropriate dedicated space in our home to meet with clients (plus, I didn't want to interfere with my family life, kids, etc).

I created a LUXURY brand, making $4,, $5k and even $10k portrait sales, selling in the living room of my clients homes...from a laptop and pulling my samples from the trunk of my car!

Sharing this story with you now sounds amazingly incredible, as in, "how did she do that!?" But truly, back then, it was a necessity to either figure out how to replace my income, or go back to the job that I had grown to hate.

Here's the deal: I wanted a store-front studio from the day I opened my business, but we couldn't justify it at the time because, remember? I just walked away from a (solid) 6 figures, benefits, vacation, security. This was our only income and our business plan didn't include a store-front studio for several years down the road.

But...how was I possibly going to compete for the same clients as the other "big guys" in town? How was I going to create a luxury brand, sell a wall portrait gallery, give an amazing experience when (10 years ago), everyone around me had a "real" studio?

Well, the long-story-short is that I did exactly that. I researched my competition. I studied luxury brands. I rolled up my sleeves and set out to create the aura of a luxury studio...without the walls. 

I realized very quickly that "branding" and "marketing" have everything to do with how you create and deliver a message and an experience. I turned my "negative" into a benefit for my clients...and I sold that as my brand.

Yes, I convinced them through strategic branding and marketing that it was a benefit to them that I come to their home for the presentation and sale! I had a complete explanation that was 100% true in my mind. I believed it. And so did they. 

This was my business model for the first 6 years of my business. Even new photographers entering the market were opening up store-fronts all around me. And yet I still managed to offer a unique, luxury business model to an upper-end client in my town, without a space to meet in my home and pulling all of my portrait samples from the trunk of my car. 

I attribute our success to God's grace and a crazy-mad marketing plan that effectively established and voiced our branding message to the world...with style.

I'm sharing some of these details, the logistics, the tools I used, the pros and the cons and how I worked around them to make this business model work for us. But not only work for us, really work for us.

It's a FREE download, link below. 

 

 

Oh, and by the way, this is our store-front studio in luxurious Granite Bay. We've been here for a little over 4 years. Studio tour in photos coming soon!