A lot of common sense here! Sometimes we just need to step away from the camera so that we can see the entire picture!

Seven Habits That Make Better Photographers - No Camera Needed 1. Laugh, relax and don't take yourself too seriously. Be curious, happy, easy going and open. This opens up your heart which opens up your creativity. 2. Read. Reading fiction in particular helps you to visualize. Visualization exercises make for better photographers. 3. Believe you're worthy of love, success, con … Read More

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I remember growing up, I used to have a fascination with magic. Everything from the interlocking rings, to the deck of cards, to the coin behind the ear tricks I wanted to learn how to do. However, I never got to the level of David Copperfield, or Chris Angel, or many others that we watch on television today. Or did I?

Since the term “magician” refers to one who uses mythical and extraordinary powers, then the question would be, can you TEACH magic? Holding to that definition, the answer is probably a “no,” but you can teach someone with the powers how to use them. Kind of like Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker. What many consider themselves instead, illusionists. Having the ability to make people think they see what they truly do not see, or the other way around.

How does magic apply to business and marketing? Well, hopefully many of you have some kind of business plan or at least a draft of a business plan. For those that do not, consider taking some time away from whatever you are doing, and draft one. There is no time like the present to get a road map to let you and your followers know where you are going. For those that do have a business plan though, you will find that one of the most overlooked “sections” is the marketing plan.

The reason why it is often glossed over is because people think marketing is just advertising and that’s it. Marketing is not just getting business cards out, or “word of mouth,” or tagging each other on social networks. All of those are components of marketing. You wouldn’t define your fingernail as being your entire hand would you?

according to the American Marketing Association(AMA), marketing is defined “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Marketing is a product or service selling related overall activities.”(Wikipedia 2011)  That is a lot of information. But what does it mean?

There are three terms I would like for you to pull out of that statement; create, communicate, and value.

Your marketing plan needs to have fluidity to be able to have both long-term and short-term goals. The creation process should be constant and ongoing, so that you can place your firm in a competitively advanced position. While it’s great to be able to see what someone else has done, people remember you for what YOU have done first.

Communication is so important to your marketing plan. It is great to have a good idea, with all the glitz and glam, but if there is no medium to deliver or exchange your information, is it all for naught? Do you give your plan enough time to fully develop? Do you advertize an after holiday sale the day after the holiday, or a week before? Do you know who you are communicating with? Are you speaking their language? If your marketing fails to communicate with the intended audience, it will often have unintended consequences.

Lastly, what is the value of your marketing and the product or service it is representing. I can not stress how important it is for a firm to place some kind of TRUE value on its product or marketing.

One of my favorite advertising campaigns right now is the “Mayhem” campaign from Allstate. While the commercials communicate well, and are funny, the inference is that “mayhem” can happen at anytime and it is best to be prepared for it. This places tremendous value on the product that is being offered. While the target may not go with Allstate, it does put them in the mindset to get insurance, and hopefully Allstate will be one of the companies they inquire of.

If your entire marketing plan is only social networking, business cards, commercials, or other two dimensional avenues, is that providing the best value to you, or your consumer?  With the Allstate ad, it was easy to see how it would cost a client more to NOT utilize their services than to retain them.  Does your marketing campaign add value to your product?

As a magician of marketing, you must communicate to your clients and customers not just what you do, but what you want them to see you can do. With that understood, remember, that everything you say, do, or show; there is a potential for present and future clients to see. They will develop their expectations of you from what you show them, or how you treat other clients and colleagues. Often we lose site of this aspect of our marketing and we watch clients slip away that we never noticed were there.

 

The trilogy of a brand.

The bard, William Shakespeare, wrote Romeo to question Juliette, “What’s in a name, that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet?” Romeo’s point was that if a rose was called a dandelion, would that change the smell of the rose? And of course the answer is no, but is that the same with business?

If Coca-Cola was Sprite, and vice-versa, would you still not, “have a Sprite and smile,” or “Obey your thirst, Coke!”  Or if Amazin’ Software did not change their name to Electronic Arts, would it still be “in the game?” For some companies, though, their brand identification is the most valuable asset that the company possesses.

As small business owners, we have a dedication to our clients that goes beyond our names, but to the essence of who we are. Many small business owners, change their name, their logos, their entire look, without changing what they do, in the hope of changing their brand. After all the time and money doing this they often come to realize that those changes had no affect on their brand, because very rarely did they ever change what they did.

As defined, a brand is the IDENTITY of a specific service, product or business. All the parts of your business defines your brand. The value that you provide to your clients define your brand. EVEN the clients you service define your brand. For many years Ford Motor Company and its subsidiary, Lincoln, worked hard to get rid of the image of being identified with mobsters. Cadillac changed its brand over the past 15 years to appeal to the 35-50 age demographic, where once it was thought they this group could not afford, nor wanted the large and plush luxury cars that were offered by Cadillac and Lincoln. This all changed with Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, all offering high-end vehicles to appeal to this group.

I am a car guy, and have often used the examples of Mercedes-Benz and Lexus as picture of what branding should be. If you ever go into one of their showrooms, you will find that the showroom experience is completely different from that of other car companies. Furthermore, as you go across the nation, you will find that all their showrooms are designed and operated very similar. Another example of this is CARMAX, which has made all of its stores a mirror image of each other.

So why is this so important? It deals with client’s expectations for one. When someone interacts with you, what are they expecting? Are they expecting personalized service, or are they expecting speed and efficiency?

For this reason, I tried to find a way of how I could best serve my clients, while maintaining a certain value structure. For me, I found some separation was in order. As a photographer, one would imagine that my business would begin and end with photography. My training goes far beyond photography though, with a BA in Business Administration, emphasis in Technology Management (cum laude), LEAN/Six Sigma certified, over 15 years in direct sales experience, and other credentials that I can go on about; it is easy to understand why my focus would be more towards business strategies than simple photography.

For this reason I decided to create two new divisions of my company. One geared primarily at B2B(Milverton Visuals) and one aimed at my bridal clients(Milverton Weddings). With LDPhotography remaining intact to service my clients who were requiring photos for personal usage such as families and portfolios. I will go over in a subsequent blog some of the challenges that comes along with establishing a brand, and then choosing to “rebrand.”  As you can see, they are visually consistent in identification, while maintaining their own distinct look, feel, and function. The greatest of which, for me, was growth. The better I can help my clients grow to meet their needs, the better I can grow myself. The more I can grow, the more I can help my clients grow, and continue the cycle.

So next time you crack open a can of soda, or walk into a car dealership, or even stop to smell the roses, think of if the brand defines the company, or does the company or object define the brand.

Many success.

Leighton

 

target practice

Set goals and targets!

Thank you for viewing the new blog. I really appreciate it and hope that you will appreciate the information that will be posted over the coming weeks and months. This is my offering to you. B2B, or in other words Business to Business.

I wanted to do a B2B blog, by having a forum to share information with other entrepreneurs and talent based business. With a new year, we have new goals and resolutions. I will forego the expected of more clients and growth, because those are general goals.

I ask of you, my readers to not make business resolutions, but make good business goals. A good goal should be something that is attainable, qualitative, and measurable. It is not enough to say I want more customers, but put a target on those customers. Will you like to have 20, 200, or 2000 more customers? Or would you like to have 5 more contracts over “x” amount of dollars?  Place a measurement on your goals.

Another thing I would challenge you to do this year is to place deadlines on yourself and your goals. Add some sort of punishment for failing to meet the deadline, or some sort of reward. For example, if you set a Friday deadline to meet a goal, and you meet it by Wednesday or Thursday, consider taking Friday afternoon “off” if possible and spend that time with either family, or a significant other, or even playing “hookie” at a ball game or something. At best, give your mind a break and do some “professional grazing.” Be inspired by others in your industry and see what they are doing. See where you can improve on your work flow. The opposite of this scenario is if its Friday afternoon and work is still incomplete. “Fine” yourself for the overage, AND come in on the Saturday and work the weekend until you complete the assignment. You will soon come to find yourself working more efficient than before.

I mentioned a term, “professional grazing,” which I heard from a fellow photographer, Garrett Nudd. I have always believed you should “feed your head daily.” Take aside one hour a week, and LEARN something new about your job or industry. Sharpen your mental axe by giving your brain food so it can grow and expand.

Last but not least, I want you to remove your focus from the destination of the goal and focus more on the process, on the how. If you were planning a road trip to Los Angeles from Jacksonville, Florida, it would be easy to say just hop on Interstate-10 and keep going until you get there. But without the map, you may see a sign that says LA and stop in Louisiana! Or without forethought, you may not plan for fuel stops, or rest stops. Money would be a consideration, also would “stay on I-10” be the fastest way? Or would it be faster taking multiple highways which, while being longer, may have higher speed limits and less traffic?

Anyone who has ever baked a cake, especially, cheesecake, knows that the process is crucial to the end result. What ingredients are added at certain temperatures and in certain orders may be the difference between pass or fail. So I challenge you all to consider the process along with the consideration of your goals.

I wish you all a great 2011!

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