Dominate the Photography Market using Instagram

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We are not far from all of our cameras sending a small JPEG to our phones, so we can share it right away with our audience.

 

Why Use Instagram?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, even if you may be feeling a little cynicism. You may be thinking that Instagram is a site for anyone to take amateur photos with their cell phones, slap on a filter, and then upload it instantly. If you let that stop you, you are missing a HUGE opportunity to grow your business.

Look at it this way. Instagram is a way to share images and video seamlessly. People can find images by interest, location, and links. Instagram is currently the best social media network for photographers. (It is also the best social media network, period – but that is another discussion)

When you decide to post your professional-level photos on Instagram, you have an instant advantage over all those that take pictures of their boring lunch or the sunset. Your interesting and story-telling images will be loved and shared. The best content on any network wins, and on Instagram, the only content that really matters is photos, so if you take great photos – you should be dominating Instagram.

Many photographers already know that if we build a large audience online, this can translate to photo shoots, recognition from magazines/agencies for print jobs, and for other opportunities just from reputation. Building numbers on Instagram can become that valuable to you in all these areas as well.

How to Build an Audience

Before you started any account on social media, you should have identified who you want to reach. After creating a page on Instagram, and making a few posts, go search for users based on the keywords that are related to those that you are trying to reach. If I wanted to reach teens and young adults in summer in Florida, I would search people who checked in at the beaches, creeks, bars, movies, and malls.

Give to Get

Comment, share, and Love photos of users in your target demographic. Follow them in droves. Comment tons. Then increase the amount of photos that you share as you gain new followers. Always give, give, give to get.

Managing Instagram Photos

Prepare Instagram photos in batches. You are going to want to resize and crop them to square, and make sure that they are very sharp because the phone is going to take some of that away. I have also read of photographers suggesting to increasing contrast slightly before uploading. Photo editing software can be very slow in batch editing, so try IRFANVIEW to quickly resize, crop and make changes.

We suggest that you also start searching for popular keywords that are related to your images. When you post your image, add the keywords as a hashtag, and this will help more users to find your photos and follow your account. Instagram allows a max of 30 tags per photo.

TagsForLikes is a useful app for all Instagram users. It allows you to copy popular hashtags to your images fast and easy. (Click to Tweet!)

So What is Next?

So you have been giving to get, and you are sharing your great photos with searchable keywords. How do you turn that into business?

  1. You can sell images that you post on Instagram on stock websites
  2. You can use the comment section to drive traffic to your website
  3. You can use the comment section to drive traffic to a squeeze page and gain email addresses
  4. You can drive traffic to other social networks, such as a blog where you sell advertising
  5. You can advertise events or online workshops

Remember that for every time you sell, give far more. Give to get.

Other Ideas

Instagram also has video. Try filming short videos of your photography subjects as previews of your photo shoots.
Host Contests. You can give away items, such as gift cards to your fans to help drive your numbers up.
External Ads. When Instagram starts making you good money, you can drive traffic from Google, Facebook and Twitter by promoting an Instagram post with paid ads.

We would love to hear your stories! Leave us comments and tweet @yourbizallies

3 Tips For Planning Epic Events!

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Do you recall the most incredible event that you ever attended? Was it a wedding? At a night club? or was it during a sporting event? Whether it is for business or personal, you may need to organize an event soon, and I want to share some of my top tips so that you can bring it from ehh to EPIC!

#1: Consider all of the senses
Sight | Hearing | Taste | Smell | Touch
Stand in the center of your event space, and create visuals from floor to ceiling. Nothing should be plain or unadorned. Consider table tops, walls and doors, and the stage(s) as the main areas where they eyes where focus. What is most important messages to communicate during your event? How do you want your guest to feel by what they see? Also, consider easy visual directions leading up to your event space.
Make sure that you have the best audio possible for your budget. Test your equipment. Make sure you know that nothing interferes. If you will have a band, consider having transition music playing before and after they play, and during intermissions.
In addition to food, look into mints, gum, and favors for your event. If you will be serving alcohol, try offering a unique drink that bears the event name.
Consider setting a tone with smells. This should not be done with cheap carpet powders and sprays – which can attack your guests with allergies. I am speaking on candles, motion sprays, portable fireplaces, and well-made potpourri. The best of all smells is freshly cooking food and open fountain drinks – which can also make for great visuals!
Textures are one of the most neglected sense for events. Step up the paper for your menus, flyers, gift bags, and all things the guests will hold. Seat your guests in comfortable chairs, with soft table cloths and detailed cups and silverware.

#2 Pace and momentum
Nothing annoys me more than when I am at an event, and the host starts rushing parts because they are not on schedule! Make sure that you carve out plenty of time for each segment of your event. The pace of the event should not feel rushed or forced. Be sure to have good transitions between segments, and changes to lights and music to keep the mood in the down times. The most memorable events have a carefully planned momentum as well, building you up to a grand climax. The build-up of excitement, up to this grand climax, can lend you the momentum to get your guests through more boring components of your event. Some of the best events that I have attended had little surprises leading up to the climax, that created a crescendo toward the big moment! Some ideas: door prizes, surprise guest, dancers and entertainers that interrupt a drab moment and you can even take a moment to honor a special guest with an award or gift.

#3 How will your event be remembered?

Is your event forever immortal in the internet? High-end photography and video can go a long way in creating a positive experience in the after days of your event. We internet junkies love to go the Facebook page and tag ourselves in event photos and make our friends jealous. A tasteful gallery from a business event can be good PR on your website. With the right steps, you can reuse some of those photos in your ads and further the good impact of your event. I have even seen sound bytes travel from an event to a radio station, as a clip for an interview.

I’d love to see your awesome event photos – I ‘m a photo junkie, myself. Share em on Facebook and Twitter and tell me how awesome I helped 🙂

3 Ways to Increase Sales Immediately, Without Discounting!

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INCREASE

It’s what we all want, more more more. When we help more customers, we can increase jobs created, influence, and feel more secure in our lives. Sometimes, sales are down. We need to see an immediate boost, or we might be in trouble. Have you ever felt like you are just going through a rough patch, and you just need a little change in luck?

Here are some things that you can do. They don’t work well if you do them all the time. But if you do this in the short term, you can see some increase and you can gain some ground.

#1: Feature an offering at regular price

Pick an item from your services, menu, website – what have you – and feature it in the short-term on every marketing avenue. Talk about it as if you are in love. Push the benefits. Collect quotes, testimonials and stories about this offering and share them. Create awesome picture ads and emotionally-charged calls to action. Check this out —>

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The Hillside Select is ALWAYS $30. Yet when featured on social media, on the event page, on a small flyer in the center of the food menu, and on the event flyer – the sales of this wine increased in the first night by 600%. From a usual 6 glasses per night, to a whopping 42 glasses – an increase of $1,080 in revenue from wine, alone!

 #2 LTO – Post a new offering, Limited Time Only

Have you been thinking of bringing in a new product or service? Try offering it for a very limited time to your current customers, and to potential leads. This might tell you if it is worth rolling out full-time, and can increase sales from urgency and excitement. Some great time periods are: 3 days, 10 days and 30 days. If you are feeling generous and daring, offer something free, with the option to buy something after they get the free item. Such as the ad below – free photo shoots, but you can sell prints and gain referrals after. 

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#3- Launch Paid Ads

Funnel the two tactics above or an event, into a short-term, paid ad campaign. Facebook has the awesome feature of Look-alike audiences, so you can choose to market to customers similar to a specific email campaign, website visitors, or other parameters that you specify in the Facebook Power Editor. Ads on Google, Twitter, and other sites, can also afford you a great deal of control and tweaking to reach just the right leads for your offering. Experiment with different ad types, different images and text to find the most powerful ads for your company. When you get the right formula, you can really multiply your investment with advertising.

Some tips to remember:

  • Make sure your images are the right size for the ad, so they don’t appear stretched or blurry.
  • Use memorable language, and emotionally charged words
    Instead of, “Tired of collection calls?”
    Try: “Feeling harassed by debt collectors?” 
  • Simple questions that lead to yes also leads to clicks
  • Frequently review data and analytics to make sure you are getting the results you want from your ads

We really hope that you use this info, and start increasing your sales immediately. We would love to hear your success stories on Facebook and Twitter! Thanks for reading. 

 

One Spark and what it means for the future of Jacksonville.

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If you are in Jacksonville right now, I hope that you know that we are hosting a HUGE croudfunding festival downtown ( beonespark.com ) and that thousands of people are gathering to enjoy creators, speakers, live music, and awesome food! There is so much inspiration that we as business owners can take away from this.

>That YES the community will come out and support local events, so that stigma should die.
>That YES our city is willing to allow alcohol in the streets for a live event.
>That YES you also can put on a HUGE event in Jacksonville with the right team! 

But the long-term implications of the event have yet to be determined. I foresee a shift in mindset about out downtown commerce offerings. I see thousands of people exposed to the restaurants, venues and other businesses in our urban core, that they really did not know was there all this time. I see our city finally appreciating the skyway, and how this part of our infrastructure makes parking downtown EASY. Now what? Gather your funds, and lets host more events! Let’s continue to provide the experiences to our neighbors that put Jacksonville on the map! Let’s work with these creators and everyone that cares to create the best city on Earth. I think we can.Image

Don’t sell your product, Share your Story!

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My father and I were playing at the beach one sunny afternoon. The father put me up on his shoulders. He said, “How far does the ocean go?” I did not know, but I said “Inches of infinity”. He laughed, because children take what they know and make up things that they don’t. He said, “You can think of the ocean like that. It is hard to think of ever traveling the ocean, but if you travel inches through the ocean, you will eventually reach another shore.”
So when I fell overwhelmed, I think about merely traveling inches. 

You want your marketing to be compelling, attractive and memorable? Toss the sales copy, and instead write your customers a story. Make that into photos, video, slideshows, pamphlets and events. Make that story your 30 second elevator pitch,and the incredible message of 3 day long seminars. The more you tell your story, the better it will sound and the more it will do for your business. So what is your story? How can you connect that story to anyone’s emotions? With this connection, you will find success.

The Power of Words

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No doubt that by now you have figured out that words can have considerable power. 
You may have heard that the words that someone chooses when you are asked options can alter which option you ultimately choose. 
You also may recall times when someone said a simple word, that did not affect anyone else – but you felt moved with emotion – because that particular word drew up emotions for you of your own unique memory. 

Now you have a business to market, and it is effective and important to choose your words with care. 
The label of your product can increase or decrease the likelihood that it is bought. 

Would you prefer Clean Air Filters or Open Air Filters?

Would you prefer to meet “Independent, Stable Woman” or “Independent, Free-spirited Woman”

This messaging power is greatly increased when you understand the audience that you are writing for. 
When you realize that those born in the early 90’s are feeling powerful nostalgia over things from their childhood. The job marketing is terrifying to them. Many young people are out of school and are under-employed, unemployed and still stuck with their parents. There is constant pressures to keep up with technology that they can’t afford. 
Lean of your audience, and then choose the words that will connect with them. 

“This is for you – Advanced and Affordable technology that your friends will envy!”
“Studio Apartments are an affordable way to get out on your own”
“It is not an easy job, but you will earn far more than a living wage”

These are all examples of messages that would connect with struggling Millennials. 

Further tips –

Ask powerful questions. 
“Are you wasting your life?” and then answer them 

If you offer two choices, the second choice is more often to be selected. 

Replace dead verbs with move vivid words: is, are, am, have, had, has, be, been, was, look, were, take, took, went, go, ran, run, make, do, did, gone, came, come, -ing words are all dead verbs. 

Think about using gone versus abandoned, escaped, broke in, disappeared

Together, we can craft marketing messages that are impactful, emotionally-charged, and effective. 

 

The Power of Partnerships

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Today I will explore different ways that your business can leverage partnerships to increase your marketing reach, build credibility and increase the value that you offer!

Warning: Any partnership can go wrong with mis-understanding. So regardless of the size and duration of the partnership, I recommend that you involve your attorney and spell all the details out in writing.

Reasons To Partner:

  1. Events
  2. Flyers/Other Print Media
  3. Product Pairing
  4. Cross-Promotion

Discovering partners is easy. Look adjacent to the market that you serve, and select partner businesses that serve the same market with different products. So a hairstylist could potentially partner with: nail salons, clothing stores, make-up suppliers, photographers, and massage therapists.

Event Partners can mean many different things. It could mean that you and your partners each have a speaking segment during an event. It can mean that you have a big following, and you allow another company to give away free items during your event, which will be advertising for that smaller company. It can mean that one company foots most of the expenses of the event, and simply takes away a larger portion of the ticket sales, and has no mention as part of the event at all.

Flyers can be very expensive. One way to lessen the cost, is to place one event on one side, and another event on the other side – we see this in the night club industry often. This can work for events that take place at the same venue, but different days very well. It can be that one side is the hair salon coupon, and the other side has the nail salon coupon.

Product pairing only works if the customers feel that they will gain more value with a package than by just buying the items separate. I do not recommend that you discount each item very much, but merely push the value of the pair. This pair should have its own, limited time marketing campaigns. I love when bands roll out product pairs – cd’s plus a t-shirt for $20 for example. I was going to buy both anyway, and now its cheaper. Product pairing is going to decrease the sale price of each item, so it is important to hash out all the details well in advance, to avoid disputes.

Cross-promotion can be limited time or long-term. In a small way, companies can agree to talk about each others services on certain social media sites, or provide endorsements for each other. In a bigger way, companies can run entire campaigns where they promote each others products. Cross-promotion can also mean that you allow companies to place their marketing materials in your shop.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can use partnerships to your advantage! We would love to hear from you – here is how to connect:

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Want more customers? Read this!

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Want more customers? Focus on these key areas, and you will see results.

1. AWARENESS
2. ACCURACY
3. UNDERSTANDING
4. INFORMATIVE
5. EXCITING
6. GENEROUS

Start by building brand awareness. (You must have already developed a brand, a value proposition and differentiation – we’ll talk about this in our next blog)
You build brand awareness using marketing vehicles.

1. Internet

  • social media
  • email
  • press releases

2. Distribution of Print Materials

  • business cards
  • tri-fold pamplets
  • flyers

3. Printed ads

  • local newspapers and magazines
  • on other companies flyers
  • On promotional products that you give out for free

^This is just a sample of the many vehicles that you can use to get your name out there. During the awareness focus, make sure that you have a way to measure your results. Drive traffic to specific links on your website, or push for phone calls, or the the use of a limited time coupon that is different on each type of print materials. Measure effectiveness on line using data tools.

As your company is becoming more known, work on a reputation of accuracy. Accuracy is the ability to deliver exactly what you say you will. It does not have to be about going above and beyond for your customers- it is about being reliable to simply deliver your service or product on time, and without errors.”Delivered in 45 minutes, or its free” is a great way to embed accuracy slogans in your marketing.

The more that you interact with your customers, learn from them. This understanding is a powerful tool. What are related pain points that your customers feel that are similar to the needs you are already serving? What are products and services that your customers specifically request you to start offering? What businesses that are related to your business do your customers shop at? You learn all this and more by asking the right question at the right time, for the right reason. Build understanding into your marketing messages by using your customers to tell the story of how they had a problem and your company solved it.

Build informative media – online, and in print to pass out face-to-face. I say build, because you can use a strategy of free information to build your email list. You can also use it as a Facebook Like Gate. Informative media starts to position you to the public as an expert in your industry and it draws customers, as they want to ask you more information about the topics that you are teaching.  Informative media can include:

  1. Blogs
  2. Videos
  3. How-to PDF’s

Don’t stop there. You can be informative through:

  1. Public speaking/Topic Lectures
  2. Writing articles and columns
  3. Inviting experts for interviews, lectures and columns to your audience

Generating excitement for your brand is giving the audience a reason to care, even if they will never use your service or product. Excitement is an element that many business types do not know how to employ in their marketing. But with finesse you can build excitement, even within the most conservative business industries (such as: finance, law, manufacturing) Try:

  1. Contests, Raffles, Give-aways, and Event door prizes
  2. Cross-promotion with a business that is in a similar industry
  3. Hinting that you have something big coming up and creating countdowns, and a reveal date!

Generosity is humanitarian and great marketing. Charity efforts can create loyalty to your brand, especially when you can show a direct impact to your local community. Free items are exciting, but generosity can mean so much more. Generosity is life impact. It is food, water, clothing, jobs, and support where it is badly needed. You can be generous by:

  1. Gathering a staff to volunteer
  2. Collecting items for the needy
  3. Hosting a gala or benefit fundraiser

I suggest that you start with the first focus: Awareness, and you always do a little of all the others. While your company is very popular, you shift your focus to the next focus of Accuracy. And when you see that you customers respect and trust you, you start to focus heavily on Understanding their other needs. Then you will start to roll out new products and services that better suit your marketing, give away lots of information that will also position you as an expert. Marketing does not have to be boring – launch Exciting contests and events. Don’t forget to give back to the community and the world as you succeed- A Generous company is respected. Do all of these things, all of the time, but focus most of your efforts on one concept, and move through them as a cycle in order and you will see great results.

For more marketing advice, connect with us here:

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Effective Marketing

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Marketing is effective when it attracts the specific type of customer that you want, that can afford to buy from you. 
Let me break this down.

Effective Marketing=

+attracting customers to you
+attracting customers that you want
+attracting customers that can afford to buy from you

So, in order to market effectively, you must first know who are the specific customers that you would like to attract!
What are the names of some specific customers you would like?
Are they businesses (b2b) or consumers (b2c)?
What does their income look like?
Do they share a common culture, ethnicity, language (slang) and style?
Where do your customers work, go to school, go anywhere on a regular basis?
Are the customers you are seeking already buying from your competitor, and why?
Are the customers you are seeking limited to a geographic area?

Then you discover what it would take to attract those customers to you. 
What are the wants and needs of the customers that I am seeking – even if I do not do all of those things?
Who can I partner with, that serves the same customers that I am seeking, but does not compete with me?
What do I do better than my competitors to serve my customers?
How can I share with the customers I want how I serve my customers better?

Now let’s look at some types of marketing:

1> Networking and follow-up
2> Public Speaking/Lectures
3> Publishing and Content Writing
4> Online Advertising
5> Print Advertising

This list is in order of general effectiveness in my eyes. 
Now, all marketing types can be done well, when they are approached with a definitive end goal in mind. 
Anything that brings you specifically, or a sales/marketing rep out into the world to meet people and build relationships – this tends to be the most effective marketing of all. But you have to be strategic on who you are getting out to meet, how you will follow-up, and how you can effectively communicate to those people that you can solve their need best. You must have a system to track the many different networking avenues, and then rule out the ones that are not going to bring you to the people that you most want to meet. Track all the people you have met in CRM software, or at least an organized address book with timed reminders for follow-up.

Publishing and writing should show that your company is an expert in your field, and even a thought leader that is striking new territory. If it matches your brand, do not be afraid to take an “industry standard” and complete argue in your writing for a different direction. Then use the writing as a funnel to a contact channel, such as your website or phone line. 

Online and print advertisements can be effective simply as a numbers game. When you get your content in front of enough people, eventually you will reach someone that wants to buy from you. Wherever possible, refine the online audience that you are marketing to. Post within forums, groups and blogs that cater specifically to your customer type and location. When posting coupons, don;’t use the same coupons in more than one publication. Use one coupon type in each, with tight deadlines so that you can best track their effectiveness. Beware of any discounts, which can devalue the worth of your product or service, and make you look desperate.

Effective marketing is measurable. How many sales did this marketing generate? How many new contacts? How many new email subscribers? How many more people have contacted me to speak at their events or write for their paper? Set your marketing campaigns with an end goal, and an end time so you can measure effectiveness and make tweaks. 

I hope this helps you market better with your time and money.
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Credibility From Associations

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was one the very worst factory incidents in recorded history. This taught us that we cannot rely solely on businesses to create their own standards of safety and responsibility. No, it is the job of executives to profit, and still today we have horrid catastrophes such as oil spills, faulty products, and explosions.

The internet connects us, and allows us to share our experiences with a certain company with the world. It is more important than ever to build a strong identity of credibility and ingenuity to keep up.

After such catastrophes in the early 20th century, the workers started to ban together in Unions to influence the employers and management. This idea of working together was also very effective since the beginning of civilization, when those of the same or similar trade would get together and speak on the specifics of their industry. From the farmers RoundTable to the FreeMasons, there have been innumerable groups of similar trade, working together.

Not only are such trade groups great for sharing industry knowledge, but nowadays, being a part of a trade group lends a great deal of credibility and reputation to your practice. It is within these groups that your business will be scrutinized by subject-matter experts, and in many of these groups – if you do not pass these tests. you are rejected.

You can further prove your worth to your peers by becoming certified or accredited within certain trade groups. These tests require financial and time investments, that I feel are very worth it in most cases. Not only are you a member of a group, but you have a certificate that authenticates you in this industry!

Not all tests and not all groups are created equal – I recommend that you do a great deal of research on the agendas  and credibility of any group before you align your reputation with them.

It is not enough to join, test, pass. Tap into these resources at their fullest. Network, and make it known that you are looking for a certain kind of lead. Pass leads frequently through the group. Serve your peers, and they will serve you back! It is a great power to be owed a favor.

Display your associations with pride in: your office, on your website, on your printed materials. and mention them in conversation and speeches. This is how you really work with these affiliations and use them to the advantage of your reputation. If no one knows, than it does not matter to them. You have to share with people why they should care about you.