The Second Principle:  Create Visual Interest

Did you catch our first blog of our mono-blog? If not, check them out here.


The Second Principle:  Create Visual Interest with Professional Photography & Video Content


It’s easy to take photos or videos with your cell phone and slap it up on your website or social media pages.  Even if you have a real camera to capture your content, there’s a good chance that what you’re sharing will be raw footage - unedited and almost straight from the camera.


While this is certainly okay in some instances, it can be better to trust a professional photo or video business to ensure that you are providing the best content for your customers.  They’ll still appreciate your on-the-ground content, but the sharp, beautiful results from seasoned photographers and videographers will serve you best when it comes to advertising yourself as a professional in your field.


Professional Photography for Your Business


Two Girls Laughing in a Commercial PhotoProfessional commercial photography is a science in its own right.  Knowing how to properly light the subject, how to discern the correct aperture, what angles and visual placements work best for this type of photo, and especially knowing how to edit the photographs once they’re complete are all part of professional photography.


Your website and social media sites can actually improve with the presence of professional photographs.  Commercial photography that shows your products or services at their very best draws a customer in, showing them that for all the work involved in your business, you have a professional, clean-cut side as well.  However, there is still some call for organic photographs.


A man leans against a green counter.

On the left is an organic photograph taken in the store. On the right is a professional photograph taken against the same counter.

Organic photos are photographs that you take on-the-job with your cell phone or your own digital camera.  While professional photography is a must-have for presenting a polished look to the world, your organic photos work great for mixing up your social media page.  


Use organic photos for showing your business’s day-to-day activity, capturing special moments regarding your business and the people who help run it, and showcasing points of interest for your online audience.


Professional Video for Your Business


Photographs may be a good way to show your products and services to potential customers, but video content is becoming more and more important to audience engagement.  Every week, 78% of people watch videos online, and 72% have stated that they would prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a video. Those are some serious statistics!


After seeing those numbers, you’re probably ready to grab your phone and start recording.  That’s a great idea, but just like with photography, it’s a good idea to work with a professional for your business’s promotional videos.


Whether these are full-fledged commercials or simply videos for your website or YouTube page, you’re more likely to get positive feedback from viewers if your videos are done by a professional.  Sure, the videos that you take may show customers what they’re looking for, but with crisp, clear footage and experienced editing skills, your videos will go from something that passively viewed to being actively watched.  It’s not just a promotion - it’s the difference between a viewer and a customer!


Once again, it’s helpful to shoot your own video in addition to your professionally-made videos.  Your organic video content can act much as organic photography can - an insider’s view of what your business does behind the scenes.  


How to Improve Your Photography and Video Content


Are you interested in taking better photographs and making better videos?  Below, you can download a PDF with some great tips and tricks for improving your organic content.  Go ahead and try these tips out and see the difference for yourself!

Being Honest as a Business Owner

What does honesty look like as a business owner?


Honesty and transparency are at the core of what we do. Or so we say. When we founded The Social Brand, these words quickly entered the conversation. We wanted to be a marketing company that was honest, forthcoming with people and transparent even if it hurt.


But, this is a blog about real life and real life doesn’t always fit into a nice box. So, today I want to break out of the box.


The Yes Girl holding up a thumbs up We are a marketing agency. Generally, I like to be a girl who gets to say yes to people.


“Yes, we can make your website do that.”

“Yes, social media really can grow your business that much.”

“Yes, we can Photoshop that out.”


But, over time this becomes a habit. Say yes… to everything.


Maybe I shouldn’t say yes to something because it will hurt the quality of everything else that our team is working on right now. Maybe a certain client isn’t a great fit for me, or maybe (and sometimes this happens) someone else could better meet a company’s needs better than our team could.


Maybe trying to “be there for someone” means I don’t practice the self-care I need to that day and my staff gets the uglier side of me.  Maybe, in saying yes, I take time away from my husband or my parents when I was looking forward to seeing them and they had made plans to see me.


So, the gnarly part of this habit I have formed in the time I’ve been in this business is that it’s spread. I’ve noticed myself being a “yes” girl in my relationships, in my family, in my friendships, with my business partner, and with my staff.  Something would happen and it would bother me. Then, rather than being honest, I would swallow it down, smile, and work harder.


The Solution

But about six weeks ago, something shifted in me. I realized, hey, I promise honesty and transparency to the people in my life. Why do I think this doesn’t apply to my feelings, too? Don’t people deserve to get the genuine version of me?


At first the transparency was a bit uncomfortable. It was scary to not be the yes girl. To say, “No, I’m sorry I wish I could do that last minute thing for you, but this weekend I need to sit still and recenter.” or “No, I can’t get that project over to you by tomorrow.  You deserve my best effort at your project and I need more than 24 hours to do my best work.”


It was scary because I thought I was letting my clients down! I thought I was leaving money on the table.  I thought maybe my clients would take their projects to someone else. And, yes, when you say no, sometimes you lose work. I have to say though, I am truly blessed to work with brands who didn’t freak out and find a new marketing agency.  Instead, when I said no, their response would look something like, “Ok, no problem. Thanks, Victory!” and I would be looking at their email in disbelief, like, “Really? They don’t care?”


The pressure I had put myself under to say yes even when I shouldn’t was related to that huge fear. That saying no would cause this huge, explosive reaction that would threaten my business and my ability to stay in business…. But, then I got a thumbs up emoji and none of my clients even cared.  But you know who did care? My family. My mental health. My friends. The people I work with. When I was present and centered and could do my best.


With practice and with time, it grew into more important things like, “Hey, it bothers me when you talk to me in that tone of voice or use those words with me.” or “No, you can’t talk to my staff like that, they deserve your respect.” (The people who know me well, know that the one thing that will get me fired up faster than anything is people mistreating my staff. Mama bear alert!) or the best thing ever - putting my phone on “do not disturb” after 10 PM. (Hello quality of life!)


Ultimately, I think the thing that has shocked me the most, is that saying no means that my yeses are more valuable. The quality of my work has improved, I’m meeting my deadlines, I’m implementing strategies “I haven’t had time for” (for years now), I’m sleeping better, and when I say yes, you get a smile with it.


Because saying no sometimes, means that I get to be present more of the time.


There’s been a pretty amazing side effect though - my business has grown!


But I haven’t gotten to the best part. My relationships have improved. I’m closer to the people in my life, because I don’t have my “yes” face on. I am allowing myself to be honest and transparent without forcing myself into the box.  


It still freaks me out, when I have to set a boundary with someone in my life because it’s still something I’m not used to. I listened to a podcast last week that compared setting boundaries to a muscle that for many people is weak, and the more you do it - the stronger it gets.


This week, I challenge you to say no at least once.

The First Principle: Build Your Marketing Plan

Let’s answer your first question:  What is a marketing plan?


A marketing plan should be your first step to small business marketing.  In a nutshell, a marketing plan is an analysis of where your business currently stands in relation to your industry and your more immediate competitors.


Why? Written on a yellow post it note in blue inkWhy do I need a marketing plan?


Having a marketing plan fleshed out will easily help you answer questions like:


Building a marketing plan will take a lot of the guesswork out of your marketing, making it easier to make intelligent marketing decisions backed by analysis.  You’ll be able to see where you can make changes in your small business that will positively affect the goals you’re trying to reach.


And yes, changes may be needed in order for your small business to reach the level of success that you want.  


For instance, if you have a website that you haven’t updated since 2011, you’ve missed out on important updates that may be affecting your SEO (search engine optimization).  It’s almost guaranteed that your website hasn’t been getting the views that it used to get, which could definitely lower the chances of it showing up in search results with Google, Bing, Yahoo, or other search engines.  


Developing a marketing plan will also be helpful in recognizing what your best-performing products and services are, the best times of year to spend advertising dollars during, and even help you figure out ways to work around competing businesses in your area.  


Case study:  Joy's Beauty Salon


Closeup of a young female hairdresser in salon. Hairdresser holding scissors standing with hands folded at salon.Joy is a hairdresser who owns a busy salon.  She has noticed fewer customers lately and writes a marketing plan to see if it can help her figure out why.  


While Joy works on her marketing plan, she realizes that she has not been using Instagram. She also notices that her busy season is in May.  Joy decides to use this information and starts an Instagram account in April.


She also uses her marketing plan to figure out which services to push in her posts.  That May, she has more appointments than she did last year!


Joy’s situation may have seemed obvious to you, but as the owner of her own salon, she is already busy with all of the moving parts that go with being a small business owner.  It was not immediately noticeable to her that she was missing an important part of social media marketing.


However, once she did her marketing plan, she was able to not only pinpoint a valuable marketing tool, but she was able to use it to show potential clients what her best and most popular hairdressing services were.


So the question here is, what opportunities could your small business be missing simply because you don’t have a marketing plan?


How do I write a marketing plan?


Every business’s marketing plan is a little different.  A small home-based landscaping business will operate and market very different than a local bakery settled in the heart of downtown.   


That being said, there are a lot of pieces to the marketing puzzle that every business will share.  


It’s a safe bet that both the landscaper and the baker have their own logos, slogans, and business cards.  However, the landscaper will probably distribute flyers outlining their services, while the bakery may rely more heavily on foot traffic and therefore uses a sidewalk sign.  Their return on investment will be different, as will other forms of marketing that they rely on to get the word out about their businesses.


If you’re a small business owner that needs a marketing plan, we’d like to make it easier for you.  We’ve created a free PDF download that outlines how to develop a marketing plan for your small business or learn more about how The Social Brand can help here.    

Click Here to Download Your Free Marketing Plan Template!