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PPA Today: PPAedu Marketing Archives

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By Lisa Sharer

First, let's define exactly what brand means. According to Wikipedia, "A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer." Simply put, it's the 'je ne sais quoi' that consumers perceive about you and your business and make them turn to you before your competitors.

Since that 'je ne sais quoi' is by definition, undefinable, you'll need to try out different strategies to see what will make you stand out. If you're new to the marketing game, try starting with the basics. After many tests, you'll eventually figure out how to reach your target market, and exactly what is bringing in the clients.

So why is branding beneficial to all this when you're busy trying to get more clients? Well, once you have a style, a unique customer service experience, a familiar name - you'll be the go-to photographer for your brilliant kind of images and the experience you offer. For example, you are looking for a certain home product and you want it to be mailed to you as quickly as possible, what's the first company you might go to look for that product? Did someone say Amazon? They have built their brand over many years to coincide with those exact thoughts that you might have as a consumer. Now, it's time for you to be that special photographer.

Here's what you can expect with a great, stand-out brand:

  1. You Will Be More Visible. Your logo or your name will become familiar to the potential clients in your area. They will already know who you are before they are even looking to hire a photographer. They'll even compare others to you, and in the end, come back to you because it's your brand that attracts them.
  2. Trigger Referrals. Once you've dazzled one or two clients with your unique customer service experience, captivated them with your beautiful images, and delighted them with the quality of your products, you'll have already started your branding. Getting referrals is like going viral - except it's offline and brings in more credibility and...real cash.
  3. Be More Profitable. It goes without saying that once you have more clients, you'll make more money. But you should also note that once you are displaying amazing products, your sales will soar as well. And photographers with an established, strong brand will all tell you: the sale happens most often when people are attached to your brand and come in with a pre-existing understanding of the larger scope your artistry offers.

So, invest in developing your brand. Are you the quirky high school senior photographer? Or are you the incredibly laid-back family photographer that can make anyone feel comfortable? Wherever your brand fits, stick with it, develop it, and let your photography flag fly!

Next month we will be featuring See The Difference and the PRINT Movement as they are two very useful benefits for PPA member to grow their business. We have some very exciting things to help you build your brand and sell more products. So be on the lookout!

Not yet a PPA member? Find out about the amazing benefits PPA has to offer, and join today!


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About the author:
Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.



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By Autumn Rice

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Marketing is a complicated part of running your business, but you shouldn't stress about it. Despite having several elements and sub-elements, there are easy ways to simplify your marketing plan, and make it a successful addition to your business. When applied effectively, marketing presents significant added value and insights, but without strategy it can sabotage your business. To avoid the mayhem of a failed marketing plan, make sure to avoid these common mistakes. 

1. Not having a plan: Having a marketing strategy is the first, and most important, step in any marketing activity because it provides focus and a roadmap of what to do and how to do it. Without a strategy, it's easy to deviate from constructive marketing activities that lead to your objective. Calendars, spreadsheets, and bulleted documents are a great way to create an organized plan that's easy to follow.

2. Not Measuring: Marketing strategies should have a way to measure their success. Without a method to measure you'll never be able to distinguish if your plan is successful. There are several ways to measure the effectiveness of your plan according to your goals and business activities. From increases in clients to ending revenues, you can use any measurement that quantifies the success of your plan.

3. Ignoring the Brand: Every business has a brand, but it's up to you to highlight your brand and tailor a marketing plan around it. For many professional photographers this means finding your niche and creating promotional materials related to it. Whatever your brand/style of photography is, stick to it.  By defining your brand you make it easy for clients to know what you do, and how it benefits them. 

4. Mismanaging Social Media: Social media is a great way for professional photographers to display their work and connect with clients. However, in order to be successful it must be done correctly. Before beginning social media marketing it's important to know who your clients are, listen to what they want, and then give them that information. By sharing content relevant to your clients you'll keep them engaged and you'll communicate the benefits you provide to them as a professional photographer. It's also important to maximize social media platforms that host your clients and potential clients, post content consistently, and leverage your brand in your profile.   

5. Using outdated materials: Technology is a client go-to for information, and having updated marketing material is important for effective marketing. By using outdated websites, print materials, or social media promotions you create communication barriers between you and your client. You want to create marketing materials that are consistent in design, clean and easy to understand. Keep all of your materials updated, so that clients are clear about what they're getting from you.

These mistakes are common and can be easily corrected to create a marketing strategy perfect for your professional photography business. Check your marketing plan for these mistakes and, after fixing any mistakes, watch your business flourish! For more marketing and sales advice and resources visit PPA.com/ SeeTheDifference.

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By Tristin Vaccaro 

Did you know that as a PPA member, you have access to tons of free sales and marketing resources to help advance your growing business? Through PPA's See The Difference® marketing toolkit, photographers like you are equipped with various tools that help clients see the value of hiring a professional photographer. In order to help your clients value the difference a PPA photographer can make, PPA's developed some fun quizzes for you to share with clients and prospects alike. 

The See The Difference® quizzes are a fun and interactive way for your clients to find out their photo style. There are multiple quizzes available including wedding, family, senior, and pet photography style quizzes. Whether their wedding style is classic or their senior style is athletic, once your clients know their photography style, they get tips on how professional photographers can best capture their unique personality. This video may help you better understand why you should utilize these quizzes on your website or social media pages in order to better connect with your customers and help them understand the inherent value of hiring a pro. 


These unique quizzes are easy to share and can simply be added to your website and link over to the quiz of your choice. Also, there are videos that help inform your clients about the fun quizzes available to them. It's easy to add these quizzes to your website, and here's a quick how-to if you need help getting started. 


Engage with your customers in an entertaining way while also helping them see the value in YOU! These quizzes are just one of the many Sales & Marketing resources available to you as a PPA member. Not with PPA yet? Join today!

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So far you've learned the basics of Marketing and figured out how to recognize your target audience. Now, what do you do with this information? You can't just willy-nilly start throwing ads out there or hitting social media without a plan! So, the next step is to get organized and create that plan. Just follow these easy steps, and you'll be ready to start marketing your photography business!

Step 1: Situation Analysis

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It's as simple as, what is your current situation? Where are you and where do you want to be? Start with a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.


Strengths and Weaknesses are qualities that currently exist within your business. Is your photography great, but your bookkeeping could use work? Do you work really hard, but for too many hours? Are you strong with event photography, but need more practice in the portrait discipline? If you take a little time to reflect on your work, you will know where you excel and where you could use a little help. If you have outside mentors, friends, or even members of your business that you trust and respect, you can ask for their help in identifying some of these areas with you.

Opportunities and Threats are forces that are working outside of your business. Is there an opportunity to expand your market, but there's more competition in those markets? Can you include different types of photography, but maybe you aren't fully educated in that area? Think about what you want to accomplish as a business owner.  What conditions in the market are favorable or will help you reach those goals?  Opportunities are everywhere.  They can be relationships you're building with influencers in your area, a new photographic niche that's becoming popular or even technology advancements.    Finally, identify those outside forces that could hinder you.  Threats could be an economic downturn, discontinued product items and again, changes in technology.

Once you've done that, think about what makes your photography unique. How can you set yourself apart from your competition? Maybe you specialize in print photography. Maybe you're the only high school senior photographer in your area. You know what makes your work special, so just pause and identify what sets you apart from the rest.

Step 2: Describe Your Target Market

Lucky for you, you've probably already created an outline for this. If not, take some time to create your buyer persona. Once you've done that, you can write a short paragraph about your target market. Make sure to detail where (geographically) your audience resides, their age, gender, etc. Make sure to identify their wants and the challenges associated with providing solutions for said wants. Make it clear for yourself, and anyone else that might not be fully invested in your business (for example, a freelance marketing assistant).

Step 3: Identify Your Marketing Goals

When thinking about your marketing goals, remember that they need to fit into your overall business goals. Also, don't forget to create S.M.A.R.T. goals.

So, what are your studio's goals? To increase your bottom dollar? To expand the reach of your business? To tell clients about new products or services? Make a list of your goals, from most important to least important, and attack each goal individually. Make sure you are clear about each goal, so you have a clear path on how to effectively reach it.

Step 4: Decide on the Marketing Strategies You'll Use

Your buyer persona will again help you in this area. Many of these strategies will be based solely off of age. Does your audience relate to Facebook, or are they more Snapchat savvy? Would your target audience pick up a magazine, or would they be more likely to see a sign at the local coffee shop? By knowing the likes and recreation habits of your target audience, you can decide the best and most effective outlets for your message.

The most effective strategies will be multilevel. What do you mean MULTILEVEL?! Multilevel refers to engaging your potential client at every moment of their buying journey. You have probably made a decision about a big purchase before. Did you dive in and buy, let's say, the first car you came across? No, you probably did your research, picked your favorite kind, and then shopped your options. That's exactly what your potential clients are doing.

For example, maybe a potential client does a Google search for photographers in their area. There's your first outreach opportunity. Maybe that potential client then checks out your website, but then leaves to run an errand and forgets about their family portrait. Maybe the next thing they do is surf Facebook. Boom! There's your next opportunity to reach out. Maybe later that night your client goes to the local coffee shop to get a late night mochaccino. Did you remember to hang up a flyer there?

Think about all the paths that your buyer persona might take during their buying journey and plan accordingly.

Step 5: Set a Budget


Piggy.jpgIt's time to set some money aside. If you run the finances, make sure that you are putting the appropriate amount aside to achieve your marketing goals. Also, make sure you aren't setting too much aside in order to protect your profits. If you're a little nervous about creating a budget, the PPA Business Challenge and the Square One tool are great resources to get you on the confident budgeting track.


If you're the creative, and you have a partner or a financial advisor, they may be a huge help in this area. Talk over your plan with that person, and let them know your intent and your ideas on how much you might need for running a marketing campaign.

If you're just starting out, this may mean that you'll need to incur some costs up front. In this case, you should monitor your spending and still try to keep to a budget. If you see that some things are proving to be expensive with not much return on your investment (ROI), that's when you start adjusting your plan. Don't worry about keeping a hard line on the original plan; it should always be flexible and serve your business needs. As our marketing director at PPA always says: "Test, Test, Test!"

Once you've followed these steps you should have a clear outline of your next steps. If you're looking for additional marketing tools, check out the See The Difference© campaign and PRINT. The Movement campaign. If these intrigue you, find out more about becoming a PPA member today!

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Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.

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Looking for some inspiration? PPA members know they have the benefit of over 350 tutorials and educational videos through PPAedu, but each month, one video is unlocked for everyone to enjoy, because we believe in sharing the power of education with all of our photography friends.  

The PPAedu library has tutorials to help you sharpen your photography techniques, marketing strategies, sales techniques, and business operations. These educational videos are available 24/7 to PPA members. 

Between PPAedu and PhotoVision, as a PPA member, you can tap into over 800 programs to help you Be More! (If you haven't checked out PhotoVisionVideo, take a look!)

For the month of January, the video "The Value of Emotion in Your Brand" with Tim Walden M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP, F-ASP and Beverly Walden M.Photog.Cr. has been unlocked! In this video, Tim and Beverly Walden discuss and demonstrate the value of emotion in your brand. It's not just about products or photographs, but how these make your clients feel. And, if you can make that connection with your work and your customers, you'll have a booming business! The Waldens share their brilliant insight, teaching you how to:

Build client connections that differentiate you from your competitors.
Tie emotion and feeling to your product lines.
Target clients who will love what you do.

The Waldens have built a career on learning and capturing people's stories and providing an emotional connection that clients love. Learn how they do it and how you can too!

If you're a member of PPA, just log in to watch the video anytime. Non-members will have access to this video this month only at PPA.com/FreeVideo. For full access to all the PPAedu and PhotoVision videos, join PPA today!

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By Lisa Sharer

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Are you looking for additional tools to help brand your photography business? There's a new exclusive marketing resource for PPA members. Check out the new postcards, which can be found under See The Difference©'s "Custom Brochures."

Many clients can appreciate the quality that comes from hiring a professional, but do they always see or understand it? These postcards can help to get the point across. PPA members submitted their images to give your clients an idea of the before and after when it comes to professional photography. Each specialty contains a unique postcard. Each postcard shows the contrast with professional changes in posing, location, lighting, and/or editing. These are the small changes that you as a professional might see, but it's not as obvious to the untrained eye.

Download these resources to show your current and potential clients just how important it is to hire a professional over an amateur. With these postcards, it's right in front of their eyes!

If you aren't already a PPA member, visit PPA.com to find out how you can join today!

Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.
By Chris Homer

Each month, one PPAedu video is unlocked for anyone to watch (not just PPA photographers!), because PPA believes in the power of education for all. PPAedu is a library of 300+ video tutorials on photography techniques and business best practices available for PPA members 24/7 as part of their membership. And with the recent addition of PhotoVision, there are even more courses (a total of 1,100!) for PPA photographers to watch on demand at no extra cost. 

July's unlocked video is great for photographers looking to improve their marketing. One aspect of strong marketing is having a consistent brand for your photography business. If you're not sure where to start building your brand, July's video is a perfect place to start. 

In "Bring Out Your Brand," PPA's CEO and marketing pro David Trust takes you through the intricacies of what makes a brand and how you can build yours!

If you're with PPA, log in to watch the video. Non-members can access this video throughout July at PPA.com/TryEdu. If you want full access to all the PPAedu + PhotoVision on-demand videos, join PPA now!


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.



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Taking great photographs is just one part of running a successful photography business. You
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 also need to be able to sell those images! That process starts with the consultation with your client before a single photo is taken.

In December, PPAedu is offering "The Portrait Consultation" with Allison Rodgers, CPP for free to all photographers. Allison will help you understand why the consultation is important and how it helps you and your client. So, if you're looking for tips to make your pre-shoot consultations as strong as possible, grab the video today!

Through PPAedu, the online education platform for PPA photographers, you'll find more than 250 videos on both photography technique and business practices to help you grow your studio, be more profitable and be more inspired!

You will also find a quick and easy to use self-assessment tool that will allow you to build a custom-fit learning program. And the best part of all is that as you take more and more classes, you'll be able adjust your program so that you can continue to grow in photography! 

Give it a try! This is a way for photographers to find videos on areas of photography where you could use a refresher course or learn something new. PPAedu is included as part of your PPA membership, so join today to access all the videos. Or, subscribe to PPAedu without becoming a member... you won't get all the membership benefits, but you'll get access to the complete customizable PPAedu library! Go ahead and dive in! It's your time to shine. 
Dr. Lynda Falkenstein, the Niche Doctor, is joining us September 23 to help you distinguish yourlynda_ppaeduinstructor.png business from the rest of the pack in her webinar--Claim Your Niche: Nine Steps to a World-Class Business in Any Economy. This exclusive (and free!) introduction to Lynda's Nine-Step Process is guaranteed to help you build your business successfully through even the worst economic downturn. This is a rare opportunity to get valuable information on everything from marketing to sales tactics.

Here at PPA we realize that while you love the art of photography and the process of taking beautiful pictures, and there are probably certain aspects of your business that you do not enjoy. The selling and marketing process, the uncertainty in discovering your niche as a photographer--the list goes on. This webinar is here to tell you that everything is going to be okay! We feel that the best way to learn is by doing and the only thing we can do is confront those doubts and formulate a practical solution to our problems. Take the next step today and register for this impactful class!

Take control of your business with Lynda and improve your bottom line, for free, on September 23 at 2 PM (ET). Register Now!

S.E.O. Those three letters can make a huge difference when it comes to driving traffic to your googlesmarterthanyou.jpgwebsite.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the key behind getting your website to rank highly in Google and other search engines, hopefully helping more people to find your photography business' site that you can convert to clients!

It's an ongoing process that involves many factors, some of which include seeding keywords into your website, building links from other sources back to your site, and some technical aspects to make sure that search engines are spotting your website.

There are companies that will promise quickly getting your page to the top of Google for a cheap fee, but be wary that these may only be short term results that won't hold up in the long term. SEO takes constant effort, but instead of thinking of it as a cost to your business, think of it as an investment to the overall health of your web marketing plan.

So, you know that SEO is important, but you're feeling a little daunted by starting the process. Where to begin?

Luckily, PPA is hosting "The Pitfalls of SEO" webinar on July 16 to help you along the path. To give you a comprehensive view of the SEO process and the details to be on the lookout for, PPAedu has brought in Brett Snyder, Director of SEO at Nebo Agency. Brett's a true SEO guru, so the webinar will be packed with great advice for photographers just starting out with it for their business, as well as some issues you may have never considered for those of you that have already started doing it!

During the class, Brett will cover how search engines find and rank pages and how you can develop a strategy that will help your website get those high-rankings. He'll discuss things like organic search, evaluating the keywords you want to rank for, on-page SEO factors (such as meta info and internal linking), and off-page SEO factors like link building and gaining authority for your site. If that all sounded like gibberish to you, don't worry, Brett's going to make it all very easy to understand.

In addition, he'll also talk about some of technical factors to be aware of (again, he'll make these easy to understand). After all, if Google can't find your site, it won't be ranked.

Finally, Brett will cover some of the penalties you can incur by trying to go the cheap and easy route that we talked about earlier.

As Brett says, "Google is smarter than you...if you try and cheat the system you will pay for it."


This will be a live webinar, which means that you will be able to watch it for free via the web as it occurs in real time, and best of all, you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions to Brett as well! This will be open to anyone (all you need to do is create a basic access account on PPA.com before registering), as it kick-starts a SEO-For-Photographers online course series by PPAedu (available for PPA members and PPAedu subscribers!)

We hope you're excited about this comprehensive webinar as we are and that you're ready to get going with SEO. You can register for "The Pitfalls of SEO" webinar now, and stay tuned to the Live Webinars section of PPAedu for a full class description coming later this week!

Not a member? Join PPA now or subscribe to PPAedu and get 24/7 access to your online learning platform and all of the PPAedu classes, both live and on-demand. 


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