Do you date your customers? (Date, as in cultivating a relationship, I mean.) Farrah Braniff, CPP of Farrah Braniff Photographs in Houston, Texas, does. She knows the power of connecting and making a good impression, and she put that into her marketing.
"As photographers, we are our brand," says Braniff. "Our customers have to like and relate to us."
Creating the First Impression
Braniff sees websites and blogs as her best chance to make a good first impression to her customers. "I want my website to be like a really good first date," she laughs.
Think about it: A first date is your chance to make your date want a second one. It's the first chance to get the other person invested in you. And because it's the first impression, even the smallest items matter on a website. Many potential customers will make decisions about you based on what they see on your site, and you don't want to give the impression that you're outdated or unprofessional. The font, the grammar, the layout...it all means a lot, especially for the more sophisticated consumers.
To make a great first impression, Braniff focused on her sites' design, technical improvements and "voice." While she loved her previous website, she couldn't update it by herself (and fresh online content is so important). So Braniff redesigned both her blog and her website in AdobeÂ® PhotoshopÂ®, and then partnered with Into the Darkroom to bring the technical pieces of the puzzle together (like search engine optimization).
Into the Darkroom put the main skeleton up, allowing Braniff to then populate it with images and text. This allowed her to blend in the same eclectic feel that she has in all her printed pieces--a mixture of contemporary, colorful images, softer black-and-white images and handmade quality (with textures that mimic fabric, ribbons and handwritten fonts). It's important to have that connection between all your marketing pieces.
Having an authentic voice is also very important to Braniff, for she knows that she is her brand. She wants the website and blog (and all marketing) to really look and sound like her. For example, she pays a lot of attention to the "About Me" section on a site because she wants to establish common ground. She'll say she has children, as mothers are a huge target market for her. "Be yourself," she advises. "You want to sound human and approachable, not dry and business-like."
And that's what she loves about blogging. "Your blog doesn't have to be just about your product--it's about you. It helps your customers get to know you in a different light, and writing from the heart will develop readers."
In her blog, Braniff has developed themes, or reoccurring posts, which help her stay accountable. Her goal is to blog four times a week...or at least twice, depending on her schedule. She knows that you can't just write a single post and expect to have a readership. "It's like working out," Braniff explains. "Commit to it for at least six months before you look to see where you're at and if it's worth keeping up."
Keeping up with her blog and website is definitely worthwhile for Braniff, and she says that her customers comment about them often. To her, it's a great way to connect with people throughout the year.
Leaving the Last Impression
But Braniff doesn't stop with the online connections. What makes her marketing so effective is how she ties everything together into creating a remarkable experience.
"The best marketing is to have a client tell friends about you," Braniff states. "The more remarkable their experience with you is, the more 'stuff' you are giving them to talk about! That's why we do anything we can to stand out...because they'll talk about it."