Photography wish lists

What’s on every photographers’ wish list (besides new gear) this holiday season?

These three things are sure to be at the top… 1. more customers; 2. more sales; and 3. more profits.

This season, we’re helping make holiday wishes come true. One lucky Ottawa photographer will be gifted a DIY marketing & PR template to create an actionable plan for themselves to pinpoint their marketing efforts throughout the year. This fill-in-the-blanks marketing & PR plan template will help you identify: who your target customers are; how you will reach them; and how you will retain your customers so they repeatedly bring in new business for you.

A holiday gift that keeps giving all year long

To be eligible, you must be an Ottawa-based photographer, (pro, semi-pro or amateur), and you must sign up before midnight December 24th, 2017. Your name will be automatically entered into a draw for a DIY fill-able marketing & PR plan (a $3,000+ value) that guides you through the entire planning process. Even if you’re not the lucky winner, you’ll be off to a great start to growing your photography business with valuable marketing & PR tips delivered directly to your inbox on a monthly basis starting  January 2018.

Sign up for your chance to win a FREE template and gain valuable marketing & PR tips for 2018 >>

sign up & enter

About the Author
Deanna White, CM is owner and publicist for storylinePR and recognized as top marketing talent in Canada by the Canadian Marketing Association. She works with Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers – “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca


All entries must be received before December 24, 2017 for a chance to win. To be eligible, you must be an Ottawa-based photographer. By entering into the contest, you are opting-in to receive email communication from storylinePR on a monthly basis. You may change your communication preferences at any time. Chances of winning depend on the number of entries.  Multiple entries not allowed. Random draw will take place Friday January 5th, 2018. Selected winner will be notified by email and agrees to have name used in award announcement.

Social media – no guarantees

The only thing in social media that’s constant – is change. Facebook can be an incredible source of referral traffic and growth, but there’s no guarantee it will last. If Facebook officially launches ‘Explore Feed’ which its currently testing in other countries, it will be the demise of all business pages, (IOHO), unless, of course, you have deep pockets for paid ads.

Although Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed for Facebook, says it currently has no plans to roll this test out further, according to this article from Techcrunch: “Facebook is downplaying this test banishing all Pages to buried Explore Feed. This same situation has played out a half dozen times on Facebook: Facebook saw users didn’t like viral game spam, so it turned off game virality and developers like Zynga imploded; Apps like BandPage let musicians stream music from the landing tab of their Facebook Pages, until Facebook banned landing tabs and BandPage lost 90 percent of its traffic in three months; It saw its Open Graph social reader apps were clogging the feed, so it removed most of their visibility and the apps plummeted; The desktop sidebar Ticker showed what friends were doing in third-party apps and was filled with Spotify listening activity, until Facebook muted the channel and eventually all-but-deleted it.”

Creating social currency

Do you rely on Facebook pages to get your marketing messages and images to your audience? You might want to rethink that strategy. Diversifying on social media is key. There is no reason to be on every social media channel out there. Just the ones your ideal customers are on and ONLY the ones that make sense for your business. The ability to more clearly identify your target customers will help both pinpoint your social media efforts and get a higher return on investment.

Like it or not, most customers go online to research their next purchase. As such, having the right online marketing strategy can help you secure new customers and gain a competitive advantage.

The four key components to consider for your online marketing strategy:

  1. Keyword Strategy: identify the keywords to optimize your website.
  2. Search Engine Optimization Strategy:  updates you make to your website so it shows up more prominently for your top keywords.
  3. Paid Online Advertising Strategy: the online advertising programs you use to reach target customers.
  4. Social Media Strategy: how you will use social media to attract customers.

Once you have you online strategy laser focused, you can use your social currency  to get your marketing messages and images in front of the right audience.

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About the Author
Deanna White, CM is owner and publicist for storylinePR and recognized as top marketing talent in Canada by the Canadian Marketing Association. She works with Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers – “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

 

How to build the right marketing & PR plan.

To succeed, you must start with a solid marketing and PR plan. Executed well, your plan will be your road map as you grow your business. The right marketing plan identifies: 1) who your target customers are; 2) how you will reach them; and 3) how you will retain your customers so they repeatedly bring in new business for you.

We are often asked what we include in the marketing and PR plans we produce for our photography clients, so we thought we would outline the 15 key sections as the fundamental basis of our working relationship with some of the best local talent.

Section 1: Executive Summary

We often complete the Executive Summary last. As the name implies, this section merely summarizes each of the other sections in the plan. It will be helpful in giving yourself a reminder and any stakeholders an overview of your plan.

Section 2: Target Customers

This section describes the customers you are targeting which we develop through a persona exercise. Personas are generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your current and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better. The ability to more clearly identify your target customers will help both pinpoint your marketing (and get a higher return on investment) and better “speak the language” of prospective customers.

Section 3: Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Having a strong unique selling proposition (USP) is of critical importance as it distinguishes your work and your business in an already over-crowded industry. The hallmark of several great companies is their USP. For example, FedEx’s USP of “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” is well-known and resonates strongly with customers who desire reliability and quick delivery. We’ll identify the USP that sets you apart from your competition.

Section 4: Pricing & Positioning Strategy

Your pricing and positioning strategy must be aligned. For example, if you want your photography business to be known as the premier brand in your genre, pricing your work too low might dissuade customers from purchasing. In this section of your marketing plan, we detail the positioning you desire and how your pricing will support it.

Section 5: Distribution Plan

Your distribution plan details how customers will buy from you. For example, will customers purchase directly from you on your website? Will they buy from other publishing venues, at events or galleries? We’ll brainstorm different ways to reach your customers and document them in this section of your marketing plan.

Section 6: Your Offers

We’ll develop strategic offers to secure more new customers and drive past customers back to you – that will generally cause your customer base to grow more rapidly.

Section 7: Marketing Materials

We’ll take an in depth look at the marketing materials you’ll use to promote your business to current and prospective customers. We’ll identify which ones you’ve already completed and ones that need to be created or re-worked to fit the plan.

Section 8: PR Strategy

The PR section is one of the most important sections of your marketing plan and details how you will reach new customers. In this section of your marketing plan, we’ll consider each of vehicles available to us and decide which ones will most effectively allow you to reach your target customers.

Section 9: Online Marketing Strategy

Like it or not, most customers go online to research their next purchase. As such, having the right online marketing strategy can help you secure new customers and gain competitive advantage.

The four key components we consider for your online marketing strategy:

  1. Keyword Strategy: identify the keywords to optimize your website.
  2. Search Engine Optimization Strategy:  updates you make to your website so it shows up more prominently for your top keywords.
  3. Paid Online Advertising Strategy: the online advertising programs you use to reach target customers.
  4. Social Media Strategy: how you will use social media to attract customers.

Section 10: Conversion Strategy

Conversion strategies refer to the techniques to turn prospective customers into paying customers.  For example, increasing your social proof (e.g., showing testimonials of past clients who liked your work) will nearly always boost conversions and sales.  In this section of your plan, we’ll document which conversion-boosting strategies you will use going forward.

Section 11: Joint Ventures & Partnerships

Joint ventures and partnerships are agreements  with other organizations to help reach new customers or better monetize existing customers. Think about what customers buy before, during and/or after they buy from your company. Many of the companies who sell these products and/or services could be good partners. We’ll document such companies in this section of your marketing plan along with tactics to reach out to try to secure them.

Section 12: Referral Strategy

A strong customer referral program could revolutionize your photography business. For example, if every one of your customers referred one new customer, your customer base would constantly grow. Rarely will you get to experience such growth unless you have a formalized referral strategy. We’ll help you think through the best referral strategy for your business and document it.

Section 13: Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices

While your primary goal when conversing with prospective customers is often to secure the sale, it is also important to pay attention to the transaction price. The transaction price, or amount customers pay when they buy from you, can dictate your success. For example, if your average customer transaction is $1000 but your competitor’s average customer transaction is $1500, they will generate more revenues, and probably profits, per customer. As a result, they will be able to outspend you on advertising and promotion, continually gaining market share at your expense. In this section of your plan, we’ll strategize ways to increase your transaction pricing.

Section 14: Retention Strategy

Too many organizations spend too much time and energy trying to secure new customers versus investing in existing customers. By using retention strategies you can increase revenues and profits by getting customers to purchase from you more frequently over time. We’ll identify and document ways you can better retain customers here.

Section 15: Financial Projections

The final part of your marketing plan is to create financial projections. In your projections, we’ll include all the information documented in your marketing plan with the related expenses that give you the highest return on investment.

One final word…

Creating a comprehensive marketing & PR plan is real work. Once it’s complete, it will serve you well as an actionable road map of deliverables with expected results in terms of new customers, sales and profits.

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About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

Surprise and Delight your Customers

a supriseWe are big fans of ‘Surprise and Delight’ marketing. How can you not be? The impact is emotional and powerful. The term is fairly new to the marketing realm, but the concept isn’t.

Designed to be fun, ‘Surprise and Delight’ is a marketing strategy where companies randomly select an individual or group to receive a gift or experience.

The unexpected “wow” factor, coupled with a personal touch, is what makes marketing human and memorable.

Not all brands have the kind of budget to pull off a campaign on the same scale as some of these examples, but with the right strategy in place, you can create an impression with your customers in creative and cost effective ways.

Here are a few of our fav’s.  These should get the creative juices flowing. Enjoy!

Westjet

Thanks to a team of merry WestJetters and the power of technology, Westjet showed their customers miracles really do happen with this video. Read their blog post to learn more about the making of this video.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/zIEIvi2MuEk]

TD Thanking Machine

TD turns ATMs into ‘Automated Thanking Machines’ to create some very special moments for customers across Canada using the hashtag #TDThanksYou

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/bUkN7g_bEAI]

Tropicana

Tropicana brings the sun to the Canadian Arctic after 31 days without sunlight in their “Brighter mornings for brighter days” campaign.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/4Krky4i6Xk8]

Coca-Cola

A Coca-Cola delivery truck is converted into a happiness machine on wheels delivering “doses” of happiness in the streets of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/hVap-ZxSDeE]

Honda Loves You Back

In appreciation of  fans, Honda set out to put a smile on a few faces. Watch what happened when they paid the parking fee for some Honda lovers at a recent NHL hockey game.

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons surprised customers by taking away their senses and inviting them to Get into the Dark. What happens next is an experience with Tims Dark Roast that no one saw coming…

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/svfFvkHgeWY]

Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign

What women in the world didn’t fall in love with this campaign? As women, we are our own worst beauty critics. Dove decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.  Talk about surprise and delight.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/litXW91UauE]

What’s your fav?

Makes you want to go out and surprise and delight your customers right now doesn’t it? What’s your favorite surprise and delight marketing campaign? Share here in the comments.

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About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. http://www.storylinepr.ca.

Case Study: Think long-term PR benefits

Most businesses engage in PR activities focused on one singular event or announcement in hopes that it will create the kind of buzz they were hoping for, only to be disappointed with the results. In practice, PR should be an ongoing initiative with a strategy and specific goals in mind. This case study is a great example of how that can be accomplished.

Long-term PR Case Study
Because their business produces paper to offer an essential service to their customers, T-Base Communications saw an opportunity to make a difference with a year-long PR strategy and well-planned execution.

T-Base partnered with Tree Canada and American Forests to launch their ‘Planting by the Dozen’ program in an effort to reduce their collective carbon footprint and give back to the earth. For every tree they consumed printing materials on behalf of their customers, they planted a dozen more trees across North America.

Image of hand holding tree with twitter birdPR and Direct Mail
The tree program was announced with a news release to media and to corporate customers through a direct mail campaign that included a branded tree sapling for customers to plant at their home or office.

Social Media
In addition, T-Base invited staff to take part in the tree planting fun. Employees took their potted saplings to various locations on both sides of the border and created an “adventures of a sapling” video to encourage more trees to be planted for every share using the hashtag #tbasedoztrees.

Using the power of social media, T-Base later took the trees to Twitter and asked Twitter users for help in planting more trees. By naming the twitter handle of their own company or a company they wished to honour with a tree, T-Base planted a tree for every tweet. Learn more here.

The result?
On behalf of T-Base’s customers and the companies their social media followers supported, T-Base announced on Earth Day 2014 that they had planted thousands upon thousands of trees across North America with the help of their tree partners.

Beyond spreading corporate goodwill, social and environmental responsibility, the T-Base ‘Planting by the Dozen’ program generated media coverage, created awareness amongst their customers and new business opportunities by connecting their products to a fundamental global issue that everyone could buy into and take part in.

The take-a-way.
Instead of thinking about individual PR opportunities that provide short-term gain, think long-term. Developing a campaign with elements that can be integrated into various channels, (for internal and external customers to get involved in), will create long-term PR benefits.

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About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. http://www.storylinepr.ca.

3 ways to prepare for Canada’s Anti-Spam Law

We’ve been receiving several emails from clients about CASL since our last post and thought we would answer the top three most common questions here.

What is the difference between implied consent and expressed consent?

Implied consent are those customers who have purchased from you, or are prospects who have made an inquiry for your products / services in the past two years.

Expressed consent is exactly that. Those prospects who have expressed their consent to receive your emails by ‘opting-in’.

After the deadline of July 1, 2014, you will have to have either implied or expressed consent in order to continue to send commercial email.

Image of mailbox with 'no spam' displayedWhat can I do to prepare for CASL?

  1. Create a form on your website to have prospects to opt-in (expressed consent). Ensure your website and/or email service has a tracking mechanism to keep the information handy for proof of expressed consent.
  2. Create a message on all of your outbound email marketing messages, website and email signatures with a link to this opt-in form.
  3. After combing through your database for those who have expressed or implied consent, create a specific message to the balance of your database asking them to ‘opt in’ with compelling reasons to do so.

What happens after the July 1, 2014 deadline?

If you do not have not have expressed consent or implied consent, (and can’t prove it through your web or transaction history), you will have to remove those contacts from your database. Under CASL, you can no longer market to this group. The fines for doing so are quite high… $1M for individuals an $10M for corporations.

Focused Marketing
There is no denying it will be a challenge to get up to speed, however, it’s an opportunity for marketers to fine-tune mailing lists focused on customers and prospects who have a genuine interest. (i.e who have opted in, inquired or have purchased in the past two years).

The result?
You will definitely have a smaller list to work with, but we believe it will also be a much leaner, more focused list of engaged customers and prospects for your products and services offered. After all, wouldn’t you rather spend your marketing dollars and resources talking to prospects interested in hearing from you?

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The content in this article does not replace legal advice, but rather, provides insight on what organizations can be doing to get ready for the Canada’s Anti-Spam Law. There are other stipulations you should be aware of. We recommend you visit the resources listed on our last blog post about CASL. For compete details and see the full text of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.

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Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. www.storylinepr.ca.

Social media PR editorial calendar

Image of Twitter bird Who doesn’t love lists? If you’re like us, writing it down, whether on paper or in your mobile while on the fly, is a part of your every day and helps you get through it all. Your social media content and media pitches shouldn’t be any different.

Your channels should reflect a consistent theme each month.  To help keep your tweets, posts and media pitches organized, we suggest building yourself an editorial themed calendar for each quarter.  Record all your channels down the left hand column and the months of each quarter along the top. For each month in your Social Media PR Editorial Calendar, ask yourself: What would that theme be? Perhaps there’s a celebratory month related to your business or you want your theme to be focused on a national holiday.

The next step is to reflect that theme with content across your various channels. Try not to post that same content across all channels. Instead, think of your audience of each channel and how you can re-articulate your theme that best reflects their interest. For each platform, ask yourself: What would be the main focus of my content that best embodies this theme for (twitter for example) and will be engaging?  Do this for each channel and schedule as needed. We’ve also posted a Social Media Calendar Infographic on our Facebook page for start-ups or SMEs. Perfect for new on-boarding interns or staff!

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Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. www.storylinepr.ca.

New Year’s Resolutions to Kickstart your PR

image of 2013 clockDo you have New Year’s resolutions set for your business in 2013? I have many. On the top of my list is face time. Personally, I plan to get out from behind my computer screen and set more appointments for coffee / lunch with cherished colleagues, (who I have cancelled on far too many times in 2012 than I care to admit). I want to reach out to new contacts that I have established a rapport on social media & have been wanting to meet in person to further build on those relationships. 

I also intend to work smarter, not harder. Here at the office, we’ve been really focused on our new business model. We’ve been testing various elements of storylinePRO for several months now and are very excited about our 2013 launch. Details to come.

Does your PR need a kickstart in 2013?
We’ve highlighted the following New Year’s resolutions for you to consider to kickstart your business PR profile.

Write Better Headlines

Whether it’s a blog post, a news release, email campaign or a Facebook or Twitter update, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about restructuring your headlines in 2013 to appeal to a broader audience.  There are a couple of reasons for this… 

a)  
The headline is what journalists see first in news room wires and the first thing your audience sees in RSS feeds, email in-boxes and status updates on social media. You have to make it compelling to ensure your message gets the attention it deserves. 

b)
Search engines place extra weight upon the text at the top of the page and only index the first 65 characters of the headline. 

Addressing both these issues when creating headlines can be challenging, but can be accomplished keeping these tips in mind… 1. Think like a journalist 2. Point out the benefits and 3. Be concise.

Stop ‘Selling’ and Start ‘Telling’ your Story

Great communication is about telling stories well. Some of the largest and savviest organizations are using “stories” as a core foundation of their marketing efforts and are discovering that storytelling is very powerful in the world PR. Public Relations is no longer about developing messages to be pushed to the media. Rather than tug on the sleeves of the media and beg for mentions, tell your story – everyone has one, what’s yours? In this issue of ePRnews, we shared some tips on understanding the use of stories in PR.

Add  More Video

And speaking of storytelling, video can bring your stories to life, creating emotion and visually stimulating assets to drive home points that your audience cares most about. It just takes a little creativity, a good story and solid planning.  Here is a recent ePRnews newsletter on this very subject.

Evaluate your Social Media PR Channels

Journalists and bloggers who are at the top of your pitch lists – consume content digitally. Sharing on social media can have a lasting effect on the online visibility of your message. Ensure that you have the right set of social media PR channels to tell your story.  Of course, it doesn’t make sense to invest time and effort in a particular social network if your clients are not there. How do you determine where they spend their time? The easiest way is to ask.  Compile a quick survey!

Build Relationships with Media

Invest time in building relationships with reporters, not just media databases.  Watch the conversations being created around the news that is being reported in your industry.  Follow the source of the news. Find the names of the journalists who cover your specific topic. Search for articles by those journalists and start engaging.

Target your Pitch

Remembering a media survey we stumbled across a few years back, it revealed startling stats….  ‘Over half of journalists say unsolicited pitches result in a story only “1% to 20%” of the time and 44% say only “0 to 25%” of the pitches they receive are related to what they cover’.  On behalf of my industry, “tisk.. tisk…” You will have invested a lot of time and research into ‘the perfect pitch’, so make sure you are sending it to the right media contacts that would have a genuine interest in your story.

Our Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions
Setting goals is a wonderful thing for your business and your spirit. A new year ahead with nothing but promise and inspiration is rejuvenating. What other New Year’s resolutions have you planned for your business that will kick-start your PR profile in 2013?

How to create an effective Twitter contest – quick case study

Image of twitter contest promotionWe’ve seen a lot of twitter contests as of late and stumbled across this one that gets our ‘two thumbs up’. Scotiabank has teamed up with Amex to create a social media campaign called
The Tweet Escape. Intriguing, right?

They are asking their followers to tweet this messages (with their own preferences in the parenthesis) between October 15th and October 26th.

“With $10K, I’d go to [destination] with @[Twitter friend]. #ScotiaAmex @scotiabank”

Why We Like This One
First of all – they’re giving away money, who doesn’t want some of that? Not everyone has $10,000 to throw into the pot for a promotion, but you don’t need to in order to run an effective twitter campaign. Here’s what makes this one great.

It’s Simple
People have short attention spans and even less time. You have only seconds to get your message across – especially on social media.

Twitter contests that need more than a few short lines to explain how to enter can seem convoluted to most and won’t grab the attention deserved. This messaging is succinct and effective with tweetable content (less than 140 characters) to promote it.  In 44 characters, they managed to explain the what and how with…  “Tweet your way to a trip for two worth $10,000”.

It has a Short Window
The contest time period is less than two weeks, an appropriate time to run a campaign like this. Anything longer would lose its appeal and momentum.

They Made it Fun
Who doesn’t dream of packing a suitcase and just taking off. It’s fun to dream of faraway destinations and what you would do with found money.

It’s Well Thought Out.
Scotiabank has integrated this contest ‘front and centre’ on all their online properties including their website and Facebook.

They used their own twitter handle AND a hashtag in the re-tweetable message. Smart. Not only a great way to track campaign success, but their own twitter account is re-tweeted every time – greater brand awareness. We’ve seen too many contests on twitter where the host forgets to add their own twitter handle in the message – a missed opportunity.

The intended message to tweet is under 50 characters, leaving more than enough room for followers to enter their content and still have plenty of room for even more.

It has Instant Viral Potential
Here’s the best part. One of the variables they are asking their followers to do is to complete the message with the handle of the twitter friend they would most likely take with them. Instant viral potential. This message will spread twice as fast.

According to the contest rules, you have to be following to win plus agree to video and other multi-media promotion as the winner-another smart move. Sounds like the PR mileage they will get from the follow-up will be well executed too.

The only thing that we can think of that could make this campaign better, is if they ran it in the February – March time frame, when everyone has the ‘winter blahs’ and is really thinking about getting away from it all.  Perhaps the viral potential would be increased just that little bit more.  (But that didn’t stop us from entering :))

How are you marketing your brand?

Image of oranges with green appleApples, when compared to oranges, are quite different and we like to think of ourselves in that light.  Every once in a while, we go through a mid-life crisis when it comes to our brand and this time, decided to entertain our whim.

As the media landscape evolves, so do our services in order to keep our clients’ PR programs current and relevant, ensuring maximum results. We bring unique perspectives to the table and felt it was time for a fresh new look to reflect this & put our personality out there.

If you follow this blog, subscribe to our newsletter, visit our site or social media properties on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, there’s no doubt you’ve seen our new branding being slowly introduced with  green apples.

“Why apples” you ask?

We love what we do and more importantly – have fun doing it. We think our new minimalistic theme and apple images evoke fresh, crisp thinking with

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