Have you ever tried a marketing tactic that worked for someone else, only to find that it didn't work for you or your business? That's because marketing strategies are never one size fits all.
After working with thousands of small businesses, Stephanie Scheller discovered the three key components separating effective marketing from wasteful marketing. Small businesses often put time and effort into marketing that ultimately misses the mark. Stephanie joined us on a session of PPAedu Live to go over three main concepts that can take your marketing from "Ehh" to "Wow"!
As it turns out, most people start with the 3rd M (methods of distribution). Starting here is like building a house starting from the roof down; until you know your message and your target market, you won't know the best distribution method for your business.
Your message is the most critical piece—hence being listed as the first M! It's more than just your tagline. You have to start by understanding your brand and how others perceive it.
The good news? You actually have some control over how people perceive your brand. You may not have total control, but you can be very intentional about what you put out into the world. You can pick and choose (and analyze) what information you present to your audience to portray a specific image. Consider 5 or 6 core characteristics you want to bring to the table and be known for. Do you want to be seen as inclusive? Approachable? Professional? High-end? Family-Friendly? Down to earth?
Now that you have these characteristics in mind, you'll want to use them when crafting your messaging. The words you choose are extremely important. For example, you may not want to use slang terms or many emojis if you're trying to portray your brand as professional or high-end. Also, know that your message will not resonate with everyone—this is a good thing! After all, not everyone is your customer. Embrace your brand and stick to it.
You are not JUST selling photographs or prints; you are selling an emotion, a fulfillment, a dream. If you're JUST a photographer, you are a commodity, and commodities will continue to be beaten down when it comes to pricing. You have to start with the story—the dream you are selling and sharing. So, what dream are you selling? Start by defining your mission statement—why do you do what you do, and why does anyone care? To do this, we will start by answering ONE single question: What do I provide to my customer?
Let's say you are a wedding photographer. Your response might be, "I provide wedding photography." Simple enough, right? Now you can use the Rule of 5 Whys to dig deeper.
Why #1: Why do your services matter to your customer? In other words, why does it matter that they hire a professional wedding photographer instead of purchasing disposable cameras and handing them out to attendees, for example?
Everyone's response to this first "why" will be different. Maybe you believe it matters that the client has high-quality images that they can display in their home as art. Or perhaps you think it is because they shouldn't have to worry about missing a single important moment during their big day. No matter what your answer is, the process is the same. You will then ask yourself (again!) why this matters. Why does it matter that they have high-quality images they can display in their home?
You will repeat this process until you have asked yourself "why" 5 times. This will give you a good solid mission statement that you can then use when crafting your marketing message. Once you have your mission statement, you can use it to craft messaging that will truly stand out and speak to your customers. Each message you put out there should include how you help people and why they should work with you.
When you are marketing, you pay for every message you put out here in money and in time. You need to think carefully about your messaging to ensure it's getting in front of the right people. This is where finding your niche and understanding your ideal client becomes extremely important. You want to draw in the people you really want to work with—remember, not everybody is your ideal client! You will have to get much more detailed when it comes to identifying your target market.
Take some time to dig into the demographics of your ideal client:
Then, take some time to focus on psychographics:
This approach may take longer, but it's worth it. You will start to understand how your ideal client thinks, which will help you get their attention with your marketing message.
Now that you have taken the time to craft your message and better understand your target market, you can move on to the easy part: distributing your message! The success of this third step (the one that most people try to start with) relies on the first two steps. To effectively distribute your message, you have to understand your target market—you need to know what websites they are visiting, what social media channels they are frequenting, etc. If your ideal client prefers to peruse Instagram or Tik Tok over Facebook, then that's where you need to be!
Marketing is not easy; it takes A LOT of effort. But If you put the work in, you earn the ability to have whatever life you want. Watch the full video here or learn more and connect with Stephanie Scheller here.
If you found this information helpful, check out PPA Education for hundreds of videos, deep dives, and curriculums to help you grow, both as a photographer and a small business owner.