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Happy Monday, I thought that I should start posting these articles in the order they were published in Insight. Here is the first article published in Insight-the start of the successful Content Marketing Strategy.  Remember that the audience is commercial photographers and illustrators, so the article is geared to this group.  As mentioned with other articles, much of the advice applies to general Branding.

By: Linda Whitehead

In this inaugural edition of ADBASE Insight, we would like to get you thinking about the idea of branding your business. We will provide more detailed, practical suggestions on how to do this in a later article. Let’s begin by exploring the definition of ‘brand.’

Your brand is the net result of every interaction, experience and perception your customers and prospects have when dealing with you and your service. You are responsible for shaping these perceptions, otherwise your brand will still exist as seen by your clients and prospects, but it won’t be the brand you intend it to be.

Your reputation is key

The most important component of your brand is your reputation in the marketplace. Many marketing experts believe your reputation is in fact your brand. Your reputation is what you mean to the marketing and art buyer community, and the unique way that you deliver on meeting their needs. Your reputation is a key asset in establishing the value of your creative services. Also essential to your reputation as an artist is having a focused style that expresses your creative vision. Developing a brand that supports your style will contribute to your reputation, which in turn strengthens your brand.

Creating a strong brand will help you:

  • Build a solid, loyal client base that will return to you time and time again for projects requiring your expertise
  • Create clear guidelines that will be consistent and easier to execute across all of your client communications
  • Strengthen your hard-earned reputation, and help you achieve your business and creative goals

The time to start is now

Remember that there are approximately 15,000 commercial photographers and a similar number of commercial illustrators in North America. A positive brand perception will increase your value in the eyes of your marketplace, enabling you to charge more for your services and be less affected by price competition, even in tough economic times.

A brand encompasses a holistic and consistent approach to every single customer touch point. It is not just your logo or your website design or your portfolio presentation and content – these help convey your brand but do not define it in isolation. If you want to increase your income and differentiate yourself from your competitors through branding, you should consider taking the following steps:

Meet your clients’ specific needs

  • Talk to your clients. Ask them what it is like to deal with you and use your services, and find out what their frustrations are in dealing with other creative professionals
  • Focus on an agency’s client list that uses your style or type of service. Having this focus will enable you to properly target your marketing efforts, and increase your relevance in the mind of the client

For example, ADBASE recently conducted research with art buyers and discovered some dissatisfaction with artist’s email marketing approaches. The overwhelming quantities of unsolicited emails from artists who do not focus on a style, or even type, of photography used by an agency’s client list was an often mentioned complaint of art directors, art buyers and photo editors from all sized agencies.

Having this type of understanding of your prospect’s desires enables you to think about how you will present your brand and conduct your marketing efforts. Proper targeting demonstrates that you understand your market – that perception in the minds of your prospects will strengthen your brand.

Study your competition

  • Identify the key competitors in your niche and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Study the presentations and portfolios on their website, ask questions of clients, evaluate their sourcebook ads, check out their Digital Railroad or PhotoServe pages… you can even read their blog, if they have one.
  • Go outside of the established norms and use your creative talents to come up with your own unique positioning

Identify all of your customer touch points

  • Think of every possible customer interaction point, and what each one looks like. This includes everything from your marketing communications to your estimating process and estimate format, to your voice mail greeting. Look for the inconsistencies.
  • Learn from your clients and competition, then envision and execute the ideal customer service experience for your creative service

Articulate your brand vision

  • Clearly define your brand, then really live and breathe it each and every day. The implementation of your brand strategy needs to exist in every interaction with your clients
  • The strength of your brand will perpetually tell your clients and prospects why they should hire you above others. Re-examine how you execute your brand regularly to keep it fresh and relevant.

Leverage the power of ADBASE

The first and most important step in building your brand is making contact with potential clients. ADBASE allows you to contact creative buyers who are specifically interested in your particular style or specialty, so you can create highly targeted campaigns, generate more qualified leads, and build your personal brand.

Republished with permission of ADBASE Inc. www.adbase.com

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