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.

__________________

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

Content marketing – beyond images

Most photographers share their images on their website in hopes of driving a ton of traffic to complete the ‘contact us’ form. Unfortunately, in today’s digital world that’s no longer enough. You need a content marketing strategy. What is content marketing exactly?

Definition of Content Marketing In my view, content marketing provides relevant, useful content to your audience online without actively pitching them. It’s about providing information that makes your target audience become more informed before they buy. By doing this in a consistent manner, you’ll earn brand awareness and they will ultimately reward you with their business.

I won’t lie to you – it takes work. Relevance and consistency are key. How does one get started? Here are some of our top go-to recommendations when building a solid content marketing plan.

Get social

Dread it or like it? Some photographers dread the idea of social media while others embrace it and utilize it to engage. It’s a necessary evil in an effort to reach your target audience.  Have a presence and aim for good engagement activity.

Share stories

Posting images online is no longer enough. Blog about the experience. Tell a story about the image in such a way that will entice your target audience to learn more about you. Provide useful content and tips on ‘how to’ for your audience relative to your work.

Educate

Despite what some believe and in the wake of CASL, the art of newsletter writing is not dead. Provide an opt-in mechanism in all you do to have people sign up. Make it educational in tone. What better channel to distribute your content than to the ones who raised their hands to openly to receive it.

Keep SEO in mind

This goes without saying, but a good content marketing strategy will involve search engine optimization. And, if all the above things are done well, they will help with SEO.

In our next few blog posts, we dive deep into each of these with some tips on how to implement.
Stay tuned.

__________________

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

Photography blogging | More than just pictures.

The following quote comes to mind as we share our next topic… “Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”- Destin Sparks. Blogging is an important part of your marketing mix and your strategy should be thoughtfully considered.  This week were sharing some great tips and articles we found on the web about blogging for your photography business.

Why you should be blogging.

There are many reasons why you should blog about your photography business. We found Bryan Caporicci summed it up best with these 7 reasons:

  1. Build credibility with prospects who may not know you or what you do.
  2. Show authority to new and existing clients.
  3. Establish trust and build confidence with your prospects.
  4. Create value first instead of coming across as “sales-y”.
  5. Give people a reason to bookmark, connect with and re-visit your website.
  6. Talk about more than just your most recent photos.
  7. Guide prospects to the “next step” in your sales process.

More than just pictures, you need to actual write about your work.

Write about the photo you’re featuring on your blog. What inspired you? What’s special about it? Is there a story behind it? Readers want to know about you and your work. Keyword stuffing won’t accomplish that.

Rank Higher in Search Engine

Do you have a WordPress blog? (Or any blog for that matter). Showing up on the first page of search engine results can seem like an impossible task. These easy tips will help you be on your way to getting more traffic and prospective clients to your blog by ranking higher in search engines. Here’s a great resource:  Easy WordPress SEO Tips for Photographers.

Keep it fresh for SEO

Having fresh content on your site is one of the best ways to let Google know that your site is active, (which gives you better rankings), and shows your customers that you are busy. Be sure you optimize for search. SEO is key.

Position yourself as an authority & expert.

Reach out to online editors and bloggers. Get featured on other blogs then promote the feature to your clients, in your website, social media etc…

Unsure of what to blog about?

Here’s some inspiration: 21 Blog Topic Ideas For Photographers – Blog More And Get Clients

___________

About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. Learn more and connect at www.storylinepr.ca

SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website

Image of green chairGoogle may not be the only way to drive traffic, but it’s definitely the biggest. Like it or not, your site is affected by Google’s updates or algorithm refreshes, the most recent being Panda 3.0.

If you’re like me, you’re eager to learn as much as possible about SEO in order to drive more traffic to your site.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce Camp Tech is returning to Ottawa with a new workshop on SEO and we’re giving away a free seat!

You may remember last year, Camp Tech made its inaugural visit to Ottawa with their  WordPress for Beginners training workshop. In an action- packed day, participants learned all about how to customize and maintain their own WordPress site, from pages to posts & widgets to plugins. They’re back on Wednesday November 19, 2014 for another full day of WordPress goodness at the Hub Ottawa.

They have also added a new session: SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website, a 3 hour training session on the evening of Tuesday November 18th from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. They’ll be covering topics such as how to target keywords, what to include in your content, how to elevate your social media SEO, and how to create content so you can be found online.

Learn about SEO without spending a dime!

As business owners, our ultimate goal is to drive more traffic to our website in order to create opportunities and generate sales. Knowing SEO tactics is one of the few marketing tools you can implement without having to spend money.

Now, with a chance to win free seat to Camp Tech’s SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website, you can learn how without spending a dime!

Tweet for a seat.

To earn a free seat, simply tweet:

“I want a seat at @CampTechCo #SEO workshop #Ottawa Nov 18 via @storylinePR http://tinyurl.com/psnhyfd 

Your name will be automatically entered into a draw for your chance to win your Camp Tech seat for the SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website training session at The HUB Ottawa on November 18th, 2014, compliments of storylinePR!

You can enter as many times as you’d like by tweeting between now and November 15th. We’ll announce the winner right here on our blog on November 17th. So mark your calendar, (just in case you are our lucky winner), and good luck!

PS – If you can’t use the free seat, pay it forward by telling a friend who could. Check out the Camp Tech site and details of this session as well as the WordPress for Beginners training workshop on Wednesday November 19th.

_______________

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.

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?

10 tips for building your online newsroom

In a recent issue of ePRnews, we featured some key benefits and quick tips for building an online newsroom on your website. Since then, we’ve received calls & emails from our readers asking to learn more, so we thought we would post those checklist items with a little more detail here to benefit all.  

Image of news headline

Here are a few facts to you should know up front 

  • Social PR communications tools are vital in today’s digital media landscape.  As journalists have converged into the digital realm, creating a content rich and up-to-date online newsroom is key.
  • Online newsrooms provide journalists and editors with background information that’s needed to develop accurate and timely news stories.
  • Statistics tell us that journalists and editors are searching the web for information on companies, just like yours, more and more everyday. If that isn’t motivation enough to get your online newsroom up to snuff,we don’t know what is!

We hope you find a couple of good nuggets of information on what to include in order to build an effective online newsroom.

Read more

tips on how to keep things Pinteresting for business

Pinterest is a great visual medium, an effective touch point for influencers, a valuable information aggregator and a perfect platform for sharing.  It’s more than just a crafters haven, (although we love it for that and always find fun & interesting projects), it’s also a great marketing tool for business. We admit, we struggled with it at first, but after we realized its potential we got inspired to become creative.

Pinterest has a heavy lifestyle focus, so what better opportunity exists than to give people a peek into how your company contributes to theirs? 

Here’s how it gets interesting.
How many times have you received a notification by email like this first image? 

Read more

social media PR tools to watch in 2012

Technology and social media continue to evolve and we admit it…  it can be incredibly hard to keep up sometimes. In 2012, brand presence on variety of social platforms will be absolutely essential for business … but which ones do you choose? We identified the top 3 key platforms that we believe will be most popular for business in the coming year, offering a well-rounded approach to social media PR in 2012.

After you take a read, don’t forget to take our poll at the end of this post!

1. Google

SEO will continue be vital to content marketing – and as google adjusts its algorithm for search, so must business by adjusting their strategy in order to continue to improve page rank and be found online.

More and more business will be taking advantage of Google+ for Business to manage  social media communities for their brand. We have witnessed many individuals experiment with, and embrace, Google+ for personal use, but surprisingly, very few businesses have jumped on board. We believe that will change in the coming year.  As more business people find their comfort level with Google+ on a personal level, they will migrate to Google+ for business.

2. Twitter

Twitter brand pages will be all the rage for business as the integrated geo-targeting and design benefits of improved space for logos, taglines and key messaging are unveiled in the first quarter.  Klout will continue to be known as ‘the online measurement tool’ for 2012, and you can expect to see some changes there too along the way.

3. Facebook for Business

Company Facebook pages for business will continue to play a key role in brand engagement. The year 2011 proved that the demographics for desirable customer profiles exist on Facebook. Does your business? If not, perhaps it should be there for 2012. It will only continue to grow in popularity and be a necessity to grow business next year.

Of course, it’s important to have a strong communications strategy centered around all of these platforms along with a solid plan. That’s why in 2012, we predict that many organizations will move to social media monitoring to keep track of what is being said about their brands and products, (and even their competitors). Can you blame them?

Monitoring will pack a pretty powerful punch to PR in 2012. We talked about the benefits of social media monitoring here.

We suspect more and more companies will use the information they gather in a ‘new kind of research’ to help them engage with target audiences, media and online influencers more directly, which will impact their bottom lines.

So, if you had to pick three – these would be our recommendation.  (And a little media monitoring wouldn’t hurt). How many of these platforms are you currently using and which ones do you plan to use in your marketing strategy this coming year?

Take our Poll…

[polldaddy poll=5795123]

Follow us on Google+, Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on how these three key platforms offer a well-rounded approach to PR as they evolve in the coming year.

social media PR – making the leap!

We just finished our presentation at the IEA, (International Executives Association) Leadership Conference at the National Convention Centre earlier today. Some great questions from attendees about making the leap from traditional PR to social media PR!  It was great to share information on connecting to journalists through social media, see some familiar faces in the crowd & have the opportunity to connect, (live and in person), with members of my online community.

How to use social media to enhance your PR efforts[slideshare id=9348047&w=425&h=355&sc=no]

infographics – fad or future?

Infographics seems to be all the rage in social media. Companies are quick to recognize the benefits to communicate ideas and present complex concepts quickly in an easily understandable fashion.  With imbedded links, it is said that using infographics in your social media communications will dramatically increase our readership when intelligent SEO is built in. (We’ll let the stats on this blog post determine that), but it’s hard to deny that infographics are a great way to portray your message and brand.

Read more