Mow Your Lawn At the Right Time – A Critical Marketing Tip for Photographers
Mowing your lawn (read: marketing your business) is more than having the right equipment, it is also about timing, nurturing and engaging.
If you recall the story about my neighbor who insists on mowing a dead lawn – and obviously the lawn isn’t going to come back green unless he changes his approach, including the timing.
If you mow the lawn too low when it is hot and don’t supplement with water, you will kill it.
If you mow the lawn when it is already dead, you have no protection for the seeds (if you plant them) to grow.
If you mow the lawn to the perfect height when it is lush and green and pair it with supplemental care, it will continue to thrive.
Timing is everything in marketing.
[Tweet “If you mow the lawn too low when it is hot and don’t supplement with water, you will kill it. Read: Photography marketing is the same way.”]
Marketing strategies start to crumble with calls of action and content is of diminished value. But strategies with well-thought out content, cohesive design aesthetic truly fall apart at the timing stage. There is no sense in doing the work if no one is seeing it.
Take for example, your social media strategy. This is just one piece of your overall marketing strategy, but it is a critical piece to pay attention to in today’s technological age.
Guess what? You can’t just post whenever you feel like it. Sure, organic posting from the heart can be powerful. But for the best engagement and attention, you need to be mindful of when you are posting, as well as how you are presenting yourself.
Social Media Requires Attention To Two Things
This boils down to two major factors, your target avatar and available social media platforms. Once you nail these down, it will make the rest of your strategy easier and more effective.
#1 Your Avatar
Before you can take any action, including casually posting an image you love from your most recent session, you need to know who you are posting for.
This “target client” phrase becomes so cliche and repetive that many of us just gloss over and think to ourselves “yea, yea, yea…I got it!”
But do you really “got it”?
And how do I know this? Because there are Facebook groups and my inbox filled with people who are complaining about having clients they don’t mesh with, or filled with problems, or they just don’t feel fulfilled with the clients that are in their doors.
This is because they don’t have a clear vision of who their avatar is.
[Tweet “Failing to have a clear vision of your target avatar will lead your business into a marketing downward spiral.”]
If you have no idea who you are talking to, you can’t create your content and calls to action that actually convert potential inquiries into clients. In fact, many people don’t even reach the “potential inquiry” status because the messages you’re sending are not targeting this avatar of individuals that you WANT to become clients.
I’m going to walk you through how I figure up the baseline strategy for every single content that goes on my website and marketing piece.
I talk to my avatar. My avatar’s name is Ava.
Ava is a 25-35 year-old woman with a professional career and multiple school/preschool-aged children. She loves Pinterest-styling but may not always have the time to commit to making her house and dinners Pinterest-worthy. She seeks to maintain an appearance in the outside world while wanting to veg on the couch with her kids on the weekend. She places value in having someone do all of the work for a session, including the planning and shopping stages. She places a premium on the quality products that will be placed in her home, particularly on her coffee table, because these will be shown to guests when they enter her home. These products send a message about her and her family that she wants to maintain.
Yet, she may be vulnerable.
She feels like the world is on her shoulders as she is wearing many hats. So, anything I can do to make a vulnerable situation (like being in front of a camera that is memorializing her family) better, is what piques her interest and builds her confidence in my business as the one for her.
Getting specific with your avatar will make marketing easier than before.
You’re probably thinking, how do I use this information specifically though?
Glad you asked.
Now I know with every single action I take – marketing, client gift, interaction, etc. – what will shape my voice and presentation.
#2 The Platform
Every social media platform is different with format of content and aesthetic, but effective marketing depends on the platform itself.
First, all social media platforms aren’t for everyone. Your Ava may be on Facebook, but not on Pinterest . Or she may be on Facebook and Pinterest, however, she could frequent Facebook throughout the workday but reserve Pinterest browsing for during commuting times. (Hint: That is a true example of connecting my posting strategy to who my avatar is).
When you narrow down to the platform your Ava the Avatar is engaging on, you will be the most effective.
First, I know that Ava is working, but may frequent Facebook during the day to look at cat videos or check up on family members. Any hard-hitting content I want to put out will not be delivered during the day. The general 9-5 time will have lighter-hearted content on my schedule.
Further, I also know that Ava has commuting time (this area is heavy with train and SLUG riders so I know they are hands-free and not driving) to check around at stuff. These areas on my calendar will have a bit more heavy reading type content.
Here is an example of a schedule tying this together:
Sunday/Saturdays are family days – Posting is minimal
Mondays are filled with catching up at work and getting kids settled for the week. No real content put out.
Tuesday-Thursday are prime days to share content that Ava would be interested in. Sure, some weeks are busier than others so she may not get to see or engage in it. But that is my responsibility to keep putting content out consistently and methodically during this time for her.
6-8 Getting kids ready for school – no sense in posting
8-9 Commuting time – potentially a good time to post for her to read a blog post
9-5 Work time – give her easy things to look at – images, quotes, etc. Nothing that requires intensive reading.
5-6 Commuting time
6-8/9 Family Time – potentially a good time for a content post
8/9- Midnight – potentially good time to post for her to read a blog post (Plus more likely to be on Pinterest seeking information already).
Fridays are typically a “week wrap up” day – as Ava is busy getting ready for the weekend and is mentally drained from the week. Any “selling” to Ava will not be effective in the least.
Using Social Media Analytics to Create Your Schedule
Now, we aren’t done. We have to take whatever social platform we are seeking to create the schedule for – and use the analytics that are provided to us. Let us take Facebook, as it is one of the “Big Three” social media platforms used today.
Facebook provides Audience Insights that allows us to see trends and information, such as time of day they are engaged on the platform, to coincide our Avatar’s schedule with. You can get information based on demographics, lifestyle, spending habits and more .
Go to Manage Ads > Tools > Audience Insights then you can drill down between Everyone Facebook, Connected to Page, or a Custom Audience.
Hint: These will probably be almost the same if you’ve given the previous step some due diligence.
You also receive a perspective on your Page Insights by going to Business Page > Insights. You will get demographic data including times of day they are engaging with your page. So if you are targeting the proper avatar, you will know what your schedule should be.
Tip: Use Audience Insights and not Page Insights for demographics. Audience looks at current or POTENTIAL customers across Facebook, whereas Page Insight is ONLY interactions with your page. You don’t want to exclude those that aren’t connected by a simple “like”.
With the Avatar information + Audience Insights you can formulate a schedule per social media platform. This will help your content get in front of the audience in the optimal times for best engagement and return.
As you can see, mowing your lawn (cough, marketing) is built on a foundation of content and timing based on your avatar’s interest and behaviors. Ignoring this data and research is turning a blind eye to money and business success.
In fact, while this article is mostly about timing your schedule, let me give you a tidbit about how to use this information to create content. While I’m in the audience insights on Facebook (my given platform for my avatar), I can see their spending habits and interests.
Take for example this data, it shows that 75% of my audience purchases clothes in their retail spending. That tells me (a) my avatar is connected to my page – wahoo! and (b) that is what I should gear my content towards. Knowing that 75% of the audience purchases clothes, I could emphasize my blog posts on clothing styling for sessions, complete with links and board mock-ups (serving my super busy Ava) and getting them to come to me for valuable content versus just a marketing ad.
Hint: You should be using the 70/20/10 rule in your marketing. You should have 70% non-sales (including the 80/20 rule of your content versus other people’s content shared with your audience), 20% sales and 10% personal tidbits about yourself.
But that is getting us a bit down the rabbit hole some more. So let us stop here and soak in the information so far!
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