How to Develop and Market your Brand

Lesson 5/6 - Mastering the Marketing Machine


How to Develop and Market your Brand


Lesson Info

Mastering the Marketing Machine

Marketing! So once you know those two things, you have that, that's when you start building all this into your marketing plan. And this is where marketing gets fun and is actually kinda easy because you've already the hard work. You know what you do. You know who your people are. Now all you have to do is communicate what you do to your people, shoop, that is all marketing is, that's all it is. Good marketing communicates what you do to your people. Right, how easy is that? You're just talking to people. So I know people get scared about marketing, so I like to break it down like this, you got this, it's not a big deal. So how do you do that? Well, you do that with every single thing you put out into the world. Everything you put out on your business, your website, your social media, portfolio, everything, you think to yourself, does this show what I do? Does this represent what I do? Or do I just have this up because I feel like I should? If you feel like you should, take it out. Figu...

re out what you do and then ask yourself, is this showing what I do? If the answer is yes, then the next question is, is it communicating to my people based on what I know about them? Am I meeting a need? Am I answering a question? Am I doing something to connect to them? So, let's break it down and talk about it step by step, how you do it. So the first place to do this obviously is your website, right? Your website is your store front. It's extremely important. And you need a website that is compelling enough to get people in off the street and coming into your store. And guess what? On the internet, you have about three seconds to do that. So you always want to make sure right away that your website is communicating what it is that you do so that if your people who are looking for that see it, they know right away what it is you do. There's this great podcast, I'm forgetting the name right now, but he talks about how your website should pass the caveman test. So a caveman should be able to look at your website and grunt, "Um, baby photographer," or whatever you know? (audience laughs) Like they should know right away what it is you do. So this is what you see when you first come to my website. Okay, so first of all, color palette, right? Very neutral, very simple. It's very much what I do. There's a baby just being a baby on a bed, but it's clear it's in a studio, it's in a controlled environment. Very clean, very simple. Gosh, what does Sandra Coan Photography do? Maternity, newborn, family, it's like right there! And so like if you're looking for wedding, you're not gonna come to me. I say it right there, that is not what I do. If you're looking for dog photography, I am not your lady, thank god. But if you're looking for a maternity, newborn, family photography, I'm for you. And if you're instantly connecting with this image, then I'm for you. Three seconds. And I take it a step further and I say because they're only little once, which is my tagline. So why do I have that in? Because I know that connects to my mom. These are moms who have waited later in life to have babies. For a lot of them it's been a hard row to get there. It means a lot, and so for me saying, listen, I know, they're only little once, this is important. It connects to that emotional part. So you scroll down a little bit more on my website and I have a gallery. Again, just showing what I do. Clean, simple, simple, simple. Now for a long time, I had a separate gallery that was on location. Why did I have that? 'Cause I felt like I should. Felt like people we're gonna want to see what I can do outside, but I took it off. I still shoot outside sometimes. I have clients who've been coming to me for 17 years. And guess what, a 17-year-old boy laying on my white bed in the studio isn't as cute as it once was. So yeah, of course, we'll go and we'll do things, but I don't put that onto my website 'cause that's not the client I'm bringing in. And then I have a call to action. Book your appointment today. It's really important. What do you want your website to be doing? What are you asking your client to do? What's the point of your website? (audience member speaks faintly) So have a call to action, make it easy. Again, I know that I want my client to come to my website and I want, oh, she wants it to be quick and easy. She does not have time. So if she instantly connects with what I do, she's looking for what I do, and then I have right here, boom, you don't even have to leave the page and you can set up an appointment. That's quick and easy. That's part of my brand. It's convenience. You scroll down a little bit more and there's just a little bit more information. So, if somebody's interested, there's a little bit about me. There's a little bit about my studio, and there's a little bit about the experience, where I talk about how I don't pose newborns and I like to keep things kind of easy peasy. So again, if they want a little more information, they still haven't left the front page of my website. Easy, convenient, speaking to my client for what I know about her. And then I even add a quote where it says, "Sandra, thank you so much for these pics! "I don't know how you got so many good shots "out of this session with my little monkey, "with my shy little monkey." Why that quote? Because I know one of the fears that my client has is that they're gonna get the kids perfect, and they're gonna come in, they're gonna spend all their money, and their kids are gonna screw around, and we're not gonna get any pictures. And so what I am trying to communicate with this quote is a little bit about my super power, which is I can work with any nutty toddler out there and I can get your baby to sleep in seconds. You have to nothing to worry about. I'm gonna take care of you. So all of that is communicated. That is all intentional based on what I know about my client, right? Website. Your website should communicate what you do. You should speak to your ideal client. It should have a clear and easily understood navigation. You don't want people hunting and trying to figure things out, okay? And you should have a clear call to action. That front page of your website, you have three people to, three people, you have three seconds to grab your people is what I was trying to say, three seconds to grab your people, tell them what you do, communicate that you understand them, and get them to the next step. And that's how you do it with your website. Social media. Your social media should always be on brand. You should only be posting things that communicate what you do and connect to your people, right? So here's a screenshot of my Instagram. A screenshot of Facebook. It is very on brand. Again, if you were looking for lifestyle photography and you come upon this, I am not your photographer. And that's okay, it's okay to push people away from your work, it is, 'cause those aren't your clients. You want to pull in your clients. But if you are somebody who just likes really clean, simple, classic, you're gonna be pulled into my work. That's gonna speak to you right away. Three seconds, what do I do? Who am I talking to? Pinterest, same. So Pinterest is kind of a misunderstood, they call it a social media platform. I don't think it is. It's more of a search engine, but with pictures, which is awesome for photographers. But I use my Pinterest very strategically. So I speak to both of my ideal clients or the two different categories. So I have all the categories, right? I'm talking about studio lighting. I'm talking about film photography. I'm talking about portraits. What to wear to a studio session, which is a board which is filled with my photos, but other people's photos too 'cause it's okay with Pinterest, but just that really clean, simple. I send my clients here all the time. Like if they have questions about it, I'll link 'em to this page to help 'em out. So again, using strategically. Now listen, I love Pinterest as much as the next girl and I have entire boards of like gingerbread houses and what you need to know about chickens or whatever, but those are hidden. There's a way you can hide those boards in your Pinterest boards 'cause my clients don't need to see that. So don't do that. So your social media. Ask yourself, is it consistently on brand? Every place you are on the internet, that's your brand. Think about that, you guys. Think about that before you go on to Facebook and say something about a client you had even in a personal group, or a private forum, okay? That is a big no-no. You need to stay on brand if you're out in the public world. Does it show what you do, that thing that you do? Does it communicate to your clients? And does it answer questions, solve problems, or educate? I love using my social media for that. It's a great way for me to communicate that I understand what my client needs from me, so I can talk directly to them. Like I can show a picture on Instagram instead of saying, "OMG, isn't this baby so cute? #lovebabies," or whatever, I can say, "This is why I choose not to pose photos "because look at how beautiful a baby is "when they're just doing what they do. "Isn't it amazing?" So that's communicating what I do and it's also educating my client a little bit. So there's ways you can be really strategic and smart about using your social media. Now your portfolio. You guys, this should be a no-brainer. We are photographers (laughs), but I can't tell you how many people I mentor or I work with who really struggle with what to put into their portfolio. It can be really hard. And people will say, "I just don't get it. "I'm a studio photographer and people "are always wanting me to go and do these lifestyle sessions "and I just don't understand where I'm going wrong." And then we look at their portfolio and it's full of lifestyle sessions. And then I'm like, "Yo, what's that? "There's all lifestyle sessions." And they're like, "Well, that's because "that's the only thing people will hire me for. "So that's all I have in my portfolio." I'm like, "But people are hiring you for that "because that's all you're showing them." So if you want to be pulling in the kind of people you want to be working with and you want to be doing the kind of work you want to be doing, you have to be on brand. What do you do? Does it speak to your client? That is the only thing you show. It's the only thing you show. If you have to go out and build that portfolio to do that, then do it. But you only show what it is that you do. So, I'm just showing you some of mine. And I just have a lot of babies. Doing baby things. I love connection. There's a whole story about that, but you'll see a lot of connection in my newborns. That is so (speaking faintly) I know, right? But just simple. Again, if you're looking for lifestyle, you're not gonna come to me. If you're looking for a baby beautifully posed in a basket, you're not gonna come to me. There are people who do that really well. I do like to include parents in my shots, but I also communicate with the parents that I show that I understand my clients. Have a lot of older parents, I show a lot of older parents. Every once in a while, I'll get somebody in who's younger, but it's rare. My parents are always, those babies are always held, they're always safe. A big part of my brand is newborn safety, so every pose that I show, either they're with a parent or by themselves, those babies are safe and there's that kind of connection, that's important to me. Yeah, I wish I looked like that when I just had my baby. I did not, (laughs) she's beautiful. But again, just that really simple, safe, natural pose, even though we're in studio. You're gonna see a lot of unposed babies in my work 'cause again, I don't pose babies. I have a whole philosophy about that, about why I don't do that. But you see a lot of babies just being babies, doing what they do, which is my brand. Right, that's what I want to share. That's what I want to shoot, so that's what I show. You see a lot of square format. I'm a film photographer, I like to shoot on my Rolleiflex a lot. This one was actually taken with a Hasselblad, but saying, so I show that. I'm not trying to take my film images, crop 'em to a four by six style or whatever, like this is what I do, this is what I show. So with your portfolio, is it on brand? Are you showing only what it is that you do and that you want to do? This is huge. Does it communicate what you do to your client clearly and easily and in three seconds? If you do those things, you're gonna attract happy clients. You're gonna attract clients who completely value what you do and love what you do and you're gonna turn 'em into raving fans because your brand's gonna be consistent and honest and trustworthy and that's what you want. The other thing you need to think about with your marketing is this. That good marketing not only communicates what you do to your people, good marketing solves a problem. And one of the ways I love to do this with my work, with my marketing is with my blogging. So your blog is a great way where you can take comments, questions, things that you know your people are wondering or they have and turn it into usable content that you can communicate to them. So an example of this in my own life, I'm gonna sit down, is I had a guy in a couple years ago who came in and he was like, "Oh my gosh, Sandra, I'm so happy we found you. "You have no idea how long I spent on Google "searching photographers who don't pose babies, "and I couldn't find anything, "there was nothing out there. "And then I was on Instagram and I found your images, "and I was like, oh that's what I want." And it was like a total, like face palm 'cause I was like, I haven't said that anywhere on my website. Google cannot read my pictures. Google is not sitting in Google land and be like, this man's searching for unposed baby photos, I think I'm gonna show him Sandra Coan Photography, right? 'Cause it doesn't work that way. You need words to capture those people. And you can use your blog that way. So what I did I actually went home from the studio and sat down and wrote Why I Don't Pose Newborns, like almost using the exact words that he told me he was searching for. And I wrote this blog post about my approach, why I choose not to pose newborns. This post went like crazy, almost viral, like mini viral. But like seriously, within the first week, it had over like 20,000 hits. It was insane, so it obviously touched a nerve. And this is how so many of my clients find me now because I put that out there. Google can find it and it can help them find me, so good for SEO, good for you business, but also good for my clients because it's another way where I can communicate what I do so that they have a clear understanding, there's good communication going on there. One way you can use your blog to solve problems or educate is show 'em a little bit about what you do. What questions do they have? So behind the scenes, I know that people are always wondering about this because they see my photos and everything looks so serene and so perfect, and they're like, I have a two year old who's like crazy, like what if they come into your studio and they're just nuts, and I'm like, oh friend, every two year old is crazy. Like that's two year old by definition, like it's fine. And so what I did is I took some video and I created a cute little Animoto slideshow of just some behind the scenes, just so people could see. It's like listen, this is cool. Like I totally get kids, I understand. I understand what you're worried about and I've got you, I'll take care of you, you're fine. So that's a way that I can use my blog to educate and problem solve for my client, because they're only little once, again, that's my tagline. Every once in a while, I'll do a new blog post with that title where I just talk about, listen, it doesn't matter what age your child's at, some people will like freak out because they're like, my baby's 12 days old, and I was supposed to bring her in in that 10 day window for a newborn and I totally blew it, like I'm the worst mom. And I'm like, no you totally didn't blow it. It's fine, whatever age they're in, is the perfect age for them to be. They're only ever gonna be that once, bring 'em in. It doesn't matter, you haven't missed anything. So that is communicating to my client, like I understand what you're worried about, I understand your fears and I'm gonna take care of you. You're in a good place. The classic, what to wear. If you're any kind of photographer, your clients wanna know this. You should be using that content on your blog to build SEO and to bring people in. I was doing a Facebook Live on a business group that I run, the other day, and I had somebody bring up a point about, well, do you create those little welcome PDFs that you send to your clients, with all this information on it? You know, they're really branded. And I don't. I'm like, don't waste your time giving content one on one. If you've got good content like this that you know everybody wants to know, put it on your blog because everybody needs to know it, and it's gonna help your SEO. So make any content you're writing work for you. Is it showing what you do? Is it communicating to your people? And be smart about it, all right? So your blog, you guys, is a huge resource. And I feel like blogs don't get a lotta love 'cause we're all sick of blogging, but it really is important and it's a great way to do all of this. So ask yourself, is your blog on brand? Yeah? Does it show what you do? Does it communicate to your client? Does it answer questions, solve a problem, or educate? That's what a blog post should be doing. A blog post shouldn't be that, look at this super cute baby that I took a picture of. Think about those things when you're writing a blog. And then as a bonus, it's totally going to boost your SEO, which is by the way, search engine optimization. It's how people find you in the world.

Class Description

There is no denying that a strong brand is key to building a strong business. But developing a brand is often confusing and hard. And knowing how to use it in your marketing is trickier still.

In this class, Sandra Coan will break it all down and show you how easy and powerful brand building can be. You will learn:

  • What a brand is and what a brand isn’t
  • The one thing you need to know to build a unique and instantly recognizable brand
  • How to use your brand to connect to clients, establish trust and build loyalty
  • How to build a solid marketing strategy that will set you apart


Sarit Krupka

Marketing and so much more! Sandra is an exceptionally talented and inspirational photographer. She puts herself and her experience out there to truly help you understand the market and succeed. In 90 minutes, she took me on a journey. I had a few "aha" moments. Thank you!

a Creativelive Student

This is one of my favourite classes of PhotoWeek 2017 where Sandra gives the reason 'why' we should pursue our passion, photography in this case, but otherwise too, a well-presented, highly motivating class that would leave most wanting to go out and do it.