It should be simple, right? Your business has a great product. Your dance company has incredible dancers and a strong repertoire. Your fashion line has an amazing collection. So maybe you hire a photographer, put together a shoot and maybe produce some video for your web site and your social media accounts. So why aren’t clients knocking down your door?
Well the answer to that boils down to a fundamental principle many businesses often overlook: Strategy.
When I first meet with clients to discuss a photographic or video campaign, one of the first things I bring up is developing a business brand strategy. A solid brand strategy not only ensures that your advertising or social media content conjures a definitive brand that represents your business but is also optimised to target your specific set of clients and fully capitalise on your existing engagement trends. This simple yet overlooked aspect can be boiled down to 5 key elements:
Marketing & Sales: ‘If you build it, they will come,’ is not enough
I’ve been a professional photographer for over 20 years and over the time have developed a solid commercial aesthetic and the portfolio to back that up. When I first went out on my own, I assumed having a great service meant all I needed to do was put my work out there and the jobs would come flooding in. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed. The axiom of ‘if you build it, they will come,’ couldn’t be further from the truth.
What I’ve learned over the years and what I tell clients when they first meet with me, is that if you’re running a business; any business, you’re now going to have to be an expert at sales and marketing, or at the very least, hire someone who is an expert at sales and marketing.
It matters very little whether you have a great product or service: your entire existence as a business lives and dies by how effective your sales and marketing is at producing new revenue.
Good advertising is simply a sales pitch. Or rather, salesmanship exponentially mutiplied by the delivery medium or platform you’ve selected.
Say you’ve got 7,000 followers on Instagram. Of those 7,000 followers, 500 regularly engage with your posts and stories. That’s 500 opportunities to pitch your business.
How To Budget For Success: The cost of good advertising
Pricing is one of things I spend the most time discussing when I meet with potential clients. I’m not cheap. But nor am I wildly expensive either. To understand the basis of a budget you have to first understand that people don’t buy based on what’s cheapest. If that were true, Nike would go out of business tomorrow. The key to budgeting is about mitigating risk.
Why does a business choose one photographer or film director over another?
Why go for the more established commercial photographer or film director with the four figure price tag than someone that’ll work for peanuts?
Again, it’s about risk. An established commercial photographer & film director like myself has a background in creating the highest quality commercial imagery and maintains a commercial grade studio. I have chosen to invest in a medium format camera platform like Hasselblad to ensure the best possible image quality for my clients. I am known for creating commercially viable and results-driven content as well as, in this case, focusing on strategy for advertising content that more effectively does what you want it to do. This means less risk and a greater return on investment.
Would you rather commission five $900 shoots from affordable semi-pro photographers over the course of the year that yield little to no conversions to return revenue or a single $4000 campaign from a proven commercial photographer & film director with a solid brand strategy that is demographically targeted to yield conversions and strategically expand your brand identity?
This risk is key to your decision-making process when it comes to budget.
The same is true for the budget you’ve assigned for your delivery platforms. It’s all well and good to spend $4-10K on a killer campaign that’ll be sure to rock the industry but if you’ve only assigned $500 for targeted Facebook and Google Adwords ads, you may as well just throw your money away.
Advertising is an investment that makes more money than anything else. Fact.
Say for every dollar you spend in advertising your business you’re getting four dollars back in sales, why would you want to invest as much as your cash flow allows? In certain cases, it may even make sense to borrow cash to invest in marketing as you’ve essentially created a process to generate more revenue for your business in a simple and direct manner.
Demographics is not a dirty word: Know who your customers are
Let’s start simple. I’m not going to delve into analytics and monitoring engagement, etc. Although, it’s a very good thing to keep in mind for the future I want to introduce demographics in the simplest terms possible. To more effectively sell, you need to know who your customers are.
How old are they?
Where do they live?
What are their interests?
If you don’t know then you need to find out. It can be as simple as asking existing customers. The means of collecting this information are too numerous to count but if you’re planning to advertise on Facebook, Instagram or Google, good news! The work is already done for you.
The better you know your customers. What they like, which products, services or shows you put on appeal to them, the better you can target your brand strategy to them.
Now lets move away from your existing customers.
Who are the customers who may potentially be interested in your business but who don’t currently buy from you?
Where do they live?
What are their interests?
Now you can get a better idea of how to target them and expand your customer base. With this information we can develop sub-campaigns to target those individuals you’d like to advertise to.
The potential is endless and it all leads back to your brand strategy.
The Social Media Conundrum: Know your platform
I’m often complaining about how much of my time is taken up by engaging in social media as part of my business. With algorithms, hashtags, times to post, bought followers, trends, hubs and everything else, it’s often hard to know how much to invest into these mediums. Without getting into statistics, we do know that Facebook, Instagram, Google, Youtube followed marginally by Twitter, Pinterest, etc. form the most effective areas to focus your social media endeavours in a general sense.
What comes to play again is demographics.
How many of your existing customers engage with your Facebook page?
How many on Instagram?
What about the customers you’d like to attract?
How did your last ad on Facebook do?
How many conversions did it yield?
This is all information you need to start being aware of to more effectively shape your strategy.
Start tracking sales by period. Starting including relevant demographic info on purchase orders or ticket sales. Ask them what social media platforms they primarily use or engage with you with. This information is invaluable to ensuring that your advertising is yielding the intended result.
Branding: Identity in the age of social media
Branding is huge. It’s complex and it’s incredibly powerful. I’m an avid follower of agencies like Pentagram that specialise in branding. Now, we can’t all be in a position to commission the company that developed the identity for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald but the fundamentals of a brand are quite simple and easy to implement.
By now, we’ve tackled sales, budgeting, our customers and/or potential customers and we can start to flesh out a framework of how to brand ourselves. But let’s do some market research.
Who are the leaders in our market?
What are the key elements to how they brand themselves?
What can we learn from this? How do we set ourselves apart from our competitors are leaders in the industry or innovators in industry trends?
Essentially what do we have or can do that no one else can?
I meet with a lot of clients to discuss branding. Although not a specialist in identity I pride myself in effectively creating a brand aesthetic that addresses these elements and pushes the boundaries of a business’ identity in their industry. I get clients often coming in wanting exact replicas of images and/or videos of their competitors and a great deal of effort is spent convincing them of a better idea. To forge their own path.
Do you want your business to be the follower or the leader?
Based on the available information, make choices to create a brand that’s uniquely your own. You want potential customers to have no other options for the specific identity representing your product or service.
Strategy: The Key to Success For Your Business’ Advertising And Social Media Content
Strategy can seem like an advertising buzzword but it’s the core precept to your success as a business owner. And if you’ve addressed the key points I’ve outlined up to now, guess what? You have a brand strategy.
Everything from this point forward from content creation: be it stills, photography or video to the platforms your use and paid advertising platforms like Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, Instagram stories, Twitter, etc. should adhere strictly to your brand strategy.
If you’re still a little confused about brand strategy and would like to set up a meeting to discuss this or any other advertising or social media content creation requirements you may have feel free to contact the studio to get in touch.