Here I am at this Sunday’s Unveiled Event on Melrose Place where I continued to brand myself and met tons of great new people I can’t wait to bring into my personal community.
One of my brand missions is to give back whenever I can. Plainly said, I like to help people. Often too much. You would be surprised at the number of people who think I have some ulterior motive behind my helping. Well I do! I never got any help from other photographers when I started my wedding photography business and I thought it was kind of sad. In the commercial industry where I started my photography career in 1998, I had mentors and teachers willing to give their time to me. When I left all that behind and opened my wedding photography business 6 years ago no one, and I mean no one would even go to lunch with me. I called so many people but for whatever reason they would not help me out. I vowed that I would never run my business that way and ever since I have become known for my open book, open door policy. Don’t get me wrong, I do not have time to help everyone ALL the time because, after all, I am a business owner and my clients come first. But if ever there is someone in need, my heart cannot help but want to help. That being said, I want you to make a mark in your industry. Here are 10 steps to successful branding. I want you to take this seriously. Do the work. Don’t read it and think “That is nice. I should do some of this.” and then shelve it. I want you to DO IT! Make this happen. You will not regret it. I have given you an action item at the end of each step sort of like homework. Sorry, yes, you still have homework. Some of it will take your time and some will take your money, but in the end you need to create your own memorable and trustworthy brand that clients will come back for and refer to their friends. Are you ready? Here we go…
(To listen to this as a live lecture, go HERE. Only good for the next 30 days.)
10 Steps to Successful Branding
1. You are What You Eat.
Ask yourself the following questions: What is your current brand? Are you married to it? Who are You? What service or product are you selling? How do you benefit the purchaser? What problem are you solving for them? Does your personal brand match up with your corporate brand? How are you positioned. Are you memorable? Do your clients refer you and use your services again and again?
Action: Create a Brand Vision. Write down your vision for your business. Answer the above questions.
2. Who is your Target?
EXACTLY! Down to the specific demographics.
Action: Write down your ideal client. Who are they? Be as specific as you can.
3. What’s in a Name?
Name recognition is so important. Consistency is key.
Don’t abbreviate your name in your website or when you answer the phone. Keep it all the same across the board.
Action: Make it easy and go with your name or brainstorm like mad and ask some mentors for help. Base it off of your Brand Vision.
4. Image is Everything.
Color + Consistency + Language + Font + Design = Trust.
Do your research. Don’t copy what everyone else is doing. Stand out. Your logo can help with this.
This is so important. Don’t do this step by yourself. Hire an expert. Logos need to work well small and in black and white. Simple is better.
Action: Hire a PROFESSIONAL. Here is one I recommend all the time: Cindi Garabedian
5. Narrow your playing field.
Have you narrowed your focus? What do you do? Don’t do everything, specialize. It will help people know what you do.
Consider Levi’s. They used to be the leader in denim. Now are they? Not at all. Why? They now sell everything from cheap jeans at JCPenney to high end jeans in Japan to shirts, hats, scarves. They have generalized and it has hurt them. Stand out by being a specialist not a generalist.
Action: What is the one thing you love most about all the facets of your business? Do JUST THAT.
6. Community is King.
Network, keep track of people you meet, and follow up. This helps build your brand as someone they will know, like, and trust.
Action: Go to a local trade show or network group in your area. Collect the business cards and start a Community File.
7. Know your Competition.
Who IS your competition. Do you have any? Do not fly blind. Position yourself in your area as the leader.
Action 1: Do some research. Find out who is doing what you want to be doing.
Action 2: Proctor and Gamble’s template for positioning. For (your audience) (your name) is a (category) which provides (main benefit) unlike (primary competitor) which provides (competitor’s main benefit.) For an engaged couple, Jen O’Sullivan is a Boutique Wedding Photographer who provides a vip wedding experience from the first meeting to the wedding day to the first baby photos unlike most photographers who stop at just the wedding day.
or here is one from Marty Neumeier: Our (product or service offering) is the only (category) that (benefit). Jen O’Sullivan is the only wedding photographer that you will want to be at every life event from the wedding day on.
8. How Catchy is your Catch Phrase?
What is a catch phrase? Making Memories out of Moments. Simple. Flowey. Boring! Obvious.
This should be fun, out of the ordinary, and… get this… CATCHY. Hmm. ?
Do you have an elevator speech? What is an elevator? Something to bring you up quickly and effortlessly. What do you say when someone asks you what you do for a living? Do you explain too short? Too long? Do they get inspired or trail off into a daydream while you babble on.
Action: Create your own Catch Phrase and Elevator Speech. Click HERE for instructions.
9. Consistency is King.
Some of you change a lot. You bounce back and forth on everything you design. You could not tell me what font you use and you seem to design something new every time you put out a new brochure. This is death to your brand. You need to figure it out AND STICK WITH IT!
Action: Pull up your website or sites on the same screen and lay out ALL your marketing materials in front of the computer. Now take a look at it all. Does it look like it goes together or are there inconsistencies. Work it out!
10. Look Up.
Often finding a mentor is the best thing you could do. Coaching is where it is at for new entrepreneurs. Do you ever see a pro team without a coach, or an Olympic athlete without a coach. Why are you without a coach? They inspire you. Tell you to get back on your feet when you are down and out. They help you through hard times and give you a push when you need it. They can give you much needed insight into the area you are working towards.
Action: Consider asking a few people in your industry that you look up to if they coach or mentor?
If you are a wedding photographer I have one of the most incredible coaching and mentoring programs available. Why is it the MOST incredible? Well, most photo mentorship programs or workshops will run you $300-$400 per class. I have seen some 2-3 day workshops going for $1000 on up. I have also seen some that are $3,500. They can get pretty pricey. I am not saying they are not worth it, however most people when they are just starting out do not have that kind of disposable cash. You NEED to invest in your business but you also need to be smart about every single dollar you spend. My mentorship program is only $400 for 4 whole months. This will include 4 live sessions with me along with access to me throughout the 4 months through email to help with anything you need. I do not know of anyone else who offers this kind of help at this price. I only allow 12 students in and we are almost full. I hope to see you in my program. Email me for more info. email@example.com You will thank yourself in August!
Here is the schedule for the upcoming classes:
Tuesday April 6th Why Weddings? (An Introduction to the Wedding Series)
Tuesday April 13th How to NOT Keep Up With the Jones’s (Balancing Family and Career)
Tuesday April 20th (NO CLASS! It’s my anniversary!)
Tuesday April 27th Tips for a Great Engagement Portrait Session
Shootouts and Workshops included in the Mentoring program:
Saturday April 22nd 2:30-7:00pm Charity Engagement Shootout
Friday May 21st 2:30-3:30 Setting Up a Portrait Studio
Tuesday, June 8th 5:00-8:00pm Bridal Shootout
Tuesday, July 13th 4-9pm Benefit Moc Wedding
Copyright © 2010 by Jen O’Sullivan http://www.jenosullivan.com
Beverly Hills Wedding Photographer, Jen O’Sullivan is a boutique wedding photographer who specializes in portrait journalism.
Jen O’Sullivan Boutique Wedding Photography | 357 South Robertson Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California, 90211 | 310-494-6547