A brand by any other name…

Top of the survey when asked ‘What do you want to know about when it comes to your business images?’,Ā  came ‘Clarity of Message’ and ‘Branding’. And as we aim to please today’s blog is a straight forward look at some ideas on those very topics.

A quick disclaimer I’m currently working with the very talented Andy Johnston to drill down my business message and getting a really clear and consistent brand, so don’t take me as the greatest example at the moment. You can judge me at the end of the summer!

This is probably the first tip. Get outside help. It doesn’t have to be a professional (though a trained eye does help). A colleague, team member, mentor, prospective customers, ideal clients are all good to bounce ideas off. I have been known to test things at networking events too.

Then listen to what comes back. We all get bogged down in great ideas, being all things to all people, what we think people want to see. This can lead to our message becoming muddled and our brand getting a bit lost. Another set of constructively critical eyes are incredibly valuable for keeping our brand and message clear.

Next tip colour is great for branding. Here’s a screen grab of an image search for Cancer Research. I drove past a billboard this morning and it struck me how well they use colour. You can see that the colours from the logo in all their visuals, be it diagrams, events, people, research. Small business can do this through clothing, pop-up banners, pens, etc. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A bit of attention to detail is all that’s needed. For example if you are giving a presentation where you are going to be photographed, wear something that features your colours, match your whiteboard markers or PPT to your company colour scheme.

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You can also look at/Google the psychology of colour and what is standard in your area of business, e.g. business training is a dearth of blue/grey stock photography. Clothing, image treatments, lettering all using the same palette. If you come to any of my training sessions through the year I’m may ask you to wear something bright, as this isn’t anything like I want training to look or be. Dull!

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Unfortunately there is no simple answer. It can be a trade off between people making the connection with people through the use of standard industry colours and being lost amongst all your competitors doing the same thing. If you do an image search of ‘Edinburgh Law Firm Logos’ vs ‘Edinburgh Asset Management Logos’ you can see their different approaches.

From colour to people and clarity. If you have a specific target market use them in your images. This ties into last week’s blog on audience. Use people who connect with your target market and don’t use people who will muddy the message. When I think about my audience it’s not about a specific age, gender or industry. It’s about people looking open, engaged, professional, confident and happy. When I share any image promoting my profile pictures I make sure the image says all those things to me.

PPD eventbrite 2018

A similar argument can be made for location. If your audience is very local think about how you can feature that in your images. If you audience isn’t in California, stock images that feature roller-blading under palm trees can make you look inauthentic. The reverse can be true if you sell internationally i.e. looking to small scale, but not always. Think about the strength of the Scottish/UK brand in China.

Last tip for now…there are a million things that contribute to clarity of message and branding so I have to draw the line somewhere. I’m sure it will regularly appear in other blogs in the future and if you need specific help with your business come along to a training session or join the Digital Content Masterclass Facebook group. Where you have the chance to get that outside help I mentioned šŸ˜‰

So as I was saying last tip…sticking your logo on stuff! One of the easiest ways you can get your branding out there is get your logo in a PNG file and drop it on to all your images. If you’re not sure how to do it for your specific device, app, software ask the internet…Youtube will have the answer!

To recap a brief introduction to clarity of message and branding think; outside feedback, colour, people, location, watermark (logo). Things not covered yet; filters, styles of photography, repetition of composition…and on and on and on. Still lots to cover in the future!

Always love to hear your feedback and questions so ask away!

C x

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Targeting your market

 

Unless your goal is shouting about your business into the void, which I admit is what it feels like at times. You need to think about your audience. What do they want to see? What do you want to tell them? What do you want them to do? What’s stopping them buying from you? When you have an idea of the answers to these questions then you can look at the next step. The pictures!

How do you use images to target your market? Lets have a look at some really simple examples for each of the questions posed above.

What do they want to see?

Take areas of the female market. There is evidence that a large part of this market responds best to images that contain people that they relate to. Meaning people who are of a similar age, earning level and life stage, etc., so high earning, single mums in their late 30s respond best to similar mums. Pictures of married mums in their 20s isn’t going to work as well.

What do you want to tell them?

Your message could be something as simple as you have a higher quality product than your competitor. For example the difference between a traditional butcher versus buying meat from a supermarket. By removing any plastic packaging, placing the meat on a stone/slate block, adding a sprig of herb you can effectively convey that message in a single image.

What do you want them to do?

You want your audience to visit your cafe. Take a picture of a cake put some text with a code next to it and the message, whoever orders a coffee between 10-11am on Saturday with the code gets a free cake. There are few things more engaging than free cake…maybe a puppy eating a cake…but that’s a bit gratuitous šŸ˜‰

What’s stopping them buying from you?

Mental health related services can struggle with prospective clients being fearful of the entire situation. By using images to tell the step by step process of a visit, from what the front door, reception and room look like, to friendly engaging pictures introducing them to everyone they will meet. Images can reassure prospective clients and get them to book a session.

As you can see with a little thought you can use images to talk to your audience in a much more effective way.

If you have any questions ask away!

C x

5 questions to ask yourself about your social media images

“89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketersĀ reportĀ they are using content marketingĀ to increase leads and drive their brand forward” – Gary Henderson, Forbes

I’m not going to touch on the serious content of the article, you can read the full thing here, but it did get me thinking.

Always a dangerous thing!

Looking at it from an imagery perspective, what’s your content saying about your business? We looked at this last week at No Ties NetworkingĀ when I was giving a talk on visual communication. Instead of just telling people stuff I took two of the businesses as case studies. Then used the knowledge and experience of the group (there are some excellent marketers and brand specialists) to develop some ideas to help those businesses with their visual content.

We can all refocus our social media content by asking ourselves the same 5 simple questions we discussed at No Ties (the questions are simple…the answers might be a bit harder ;):

  1. Who or what is your business? …ask yourself this 3 times and try and expand on the answer each time. The clearer you have this the easier it is to target your message.
  2. What do you want to say? …I suppose this is sort of looking at your USP, but maybe more importantly how you want people to see your business.
  3. Who is your target market? …pick someone as specific as possible. Generally only multinationals have the resources and budgets to target everyone. And they regularly get it wrong…see Pepsi.
  4. What do they want to see? …what do you think will engage your market? Get them over their indifference. What do they like looking at? How can you match that to what you want to say?
  5. What stops them buying from you? …people are naturally suspicious about services. You can use images to help people get over their concerns about buying from you by identifying these problems and then tackling them one by one.

There are no answers in this post, only questions. I need to do this for myself too. I’m often guilty of the same thing as everyone else with a small business and limited time. I grab random images with ‘that will do’ attitude…I would never do this to a client, so I’m not sure why I think it’s okay for me.

If you’d like to learn more…possibly with answers this time…I will be putting some training sessions together for the coming months. One of which will be a full-day and run in conjunction with Katie Goudie from Words that Work and Brendan Reilly from Dangerous Studios. We will take you through the whole process from planning to practical skills for both photography and video, so you can walk away with the skills and knowledge to get on with your content marketing.

Leave your email address below or signup and we will let you know what we have planned.

Any other questions or requests for info just give me a shout.

Claire x

Communicating what to whom?

What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to?

Are the two most important questions you should ask yourself when thinking about the pictures you are taking for your business. Let us stick to social media for this post for brevityā€™s sake.

What do you want to say? Images are all about communicating your message so what is that message? Who are you as an individual, small business, company? What are the things and values that are important to you? What makes you stand out from your competitors? What do you want to achieve? These questions are our starting point in improving our communication with our target market.

Who do you want to talk to? Is the second part of that successful communication. Are the people you want to talk to present on the social media platform you are using? What do they want to see? What questions do they want answered about you? What is going to make them engage of disengage with you?

You should look at using pictures as a way to improve how you communicate with your current and prospective clients. Effective communication is never just one directional (no I donā€™t mean the boy band). If you’ve not sure how you can start doing this have a look at your competitors. Who’s doing it well?Ā Ask your market what they like. Or come along to my next training, get some tips and try out some different options.

I’m fairly new to Instagram myself, so I’m out looking for guidance and ideas. This is one of the blogs I thought was useful. ‘21 Mistakes You Canā€™t Afford to Make in Instagram Marketing‘ by Rachel Daley.

To conclude, pictures can be used to both attract and put clients off. So make sure it is intentional not as a by-product of not thinking thinks through properly. This picture might alienate large sections of the market but speak directly to a specific group. I’ll let you guess the market.

Have a great weekend.

Claire x

UK police visit Balearic islands

Imagery lessons for SMEs…using Tinder

Here is a giggle and a few thingsĀ to think about on imagery for small and medium sized businesses.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about Tinder. For those who are not familiar it’s a dating app where you select people you are interested in based on 1 initial image, 5 additional pictures and a few words. If it sounds superficial, it is, but you would be amazed how much you can learn about yourself and others in 6 pictures.

Then when I sat down to write today’s blog on imagery lessons for SMEs it occurred to me that it is a perfect example of how to use imagery effectively. Looking at theĀ difference between stock photography and images tailored for your target market, the importance of first impressions and how to tell a story that gets across your USP.

There is a caveat in this post that the pictures are not of professional quality but being used to illustrate a point šŸ˜‰

So back to my friend…lets call him ‘Gary’ (not his real name). Gary is looking to get back into the dating game after a long time away and he wanted to get my impression of his Tinder profile, so we started with his main image, the picture everyone sees first. He had a really nice professional picture lifted straight from his LinkedIn profile…the stock photography of Tinder pictures if you will. A terrible choice in my opinion for a number of reasons.

  • Firstly it tells someone looking at it absolutely nothing about you.
  • Secondly it appeals to the pretty much anyone, which is fine if you are going for mass market, but of no use if you are looking for a specific type of client or in this case are a bit moreĀ discerningĀ about your dating preferences.
  • Thirdly, Tinder is full of people you really don’t want to meet, so you should be using your images to filter out people who you will have nothing in common with to save yourself (and them) some time and effort.

In contrast this is my opening image on Tinder…

Tinder Main Image

…I have found this very effective in filtering out people I have nothing in common with. I think is says a few things:Ā I’m interested in politics**, when dressing up I like to commit and come from left field…you will never find me in a ‘sexy nun’ outfit, I have a pretty dark sense of humour and am happy to laugh at myself. This immediately removes lots of people who would class me as a weirdo and have no interest in politics and attracts people who think I look like a laugh. From a business perspective it talks to my niche market!

Then if they click though, to learn more about me, they see…

Fitness is important and I'm pretty confident/have a high opinion of myself.

‘Fitness is important and I’m pretty confident/have a high opinion of myself.’

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‘I’m a keen photographer and traveller.’

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‘I can look presentable sometimes…’

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‘…but most of the time i don’t really care…would rather swim in a loch.’

In conclusion:

  • The importance ofĀ stock photography versesĀ images tailored for your target market, really depends on how niche your product is and how much you want to stand out from your competition. The majority of SMEs I meet have very clever and interesting things to offer but that is often not communicated by their online presence. This seems like a lost opportunity to me.
  • First impressions are massively important, if people don’t like what they see you will get swiped left (rejected) and you’ll never see that prospective client again. Making your landing page engaging is key.
  • Telling a story though images is much easier and more engaging than text and as result gets across your USP much more effectively when done correctly.

I hope that made a few of you smile on a Friday. Any questions on photography for business or setting up online dating profiles ask below šŸ˜‰

**I would usually keep political leanings off any of my business platforms, but in this case it makes a point and for anyone who’s interested I voted yes in the referendum because I believe in the positive, socialist message of the Yes campaign, not because I wanted separation. I love everyone, but don’t think the system is serving those that it should be. C x

Learning from others!

Today’s inspiration comes from someone else, as there are a lot more experienced and successful people out there than me. Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing 4 inspirational women talk at the West Lothian Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Ladies Lunch. Jackie Waring from Investing in Women, Jane Martin from Scottish Enterprise, Liz Cameron from Scottish Chamber of Commerce were great, but today I’m stealing from Sanja Moll from the Salt Yard Group and LeCoq restaurants.

Here are the key points I took away from a much more experienced entrepreneur than me.

  1. Be flexible. Don’t be frightened to chuck out a plan that doesn’t feel right even if it involves throwing away months of work.
  2. Work hard. A lot of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to make it up as you go along. Just keep working hard.
  3. Take risks. It’s important to not be so frightened by failure that you don’t take risks. Failure is an effective learning tool and taking risks is a key part of being an entrepreneur.
  4. A key part of growing as a business is learning to delegate and professionalize a business.
  5. Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back.

It was great to hear about Sanja’sĀ trials and tribulations when developing her businesses. Especially the stuff about throwing out ideas and dealing with failures. I often don’t take action on things quickly because of a fear of doing something wrong. The result is I don’t get things done. So moving forward I’m going to be braver and learn from people who are much more successful than me…for now šŸ˜‰

Big thank you to West Lothian Chamber of Commerce for the invite and Norton House Hotel for a greatĀ lunch.

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