Branding vs. Marketing

Do you know the difference between branding and marketing? If I posted the question on Facebook, I would get some answers that were spot on, some that were a little confused, and some would just say something to the effect that branding is your logo. It can get confusing.


Let's tackle marketing first because it's the easiest to understand. It's more straight forward. 

Marketing is how to reach your people. It's what you do to reach your people. The actions you take to keep your people engaged. Marketing is your message. Newsletters, social media campaigns, your printed materials....that's marketing (very simplified marketing). Your logo and business cards? That's not branding. Those are marketing materials!

Marketing is easier to control. You are consciously putting things out there in front of clients or potential clients in hopes of getting their business. Branding is harder to control because we sometimes don't fully understand all that it encompasses.


So then, what is branding. Branding is you. Is your work. It's every word you write, every image you choose to post. Every complaint you write on your personal Facebook page is a part of your brand. I'll let that soak in for a second . . .  

Maryland Newborn Photographer Meghan Boyer Photography

Yes. Even your personal page, your personal tweets, your likes on a Donald Trump post or pledged support for Hillary Clinton or vaccinations or Super Bowl controversy, even on your personal page, is a reflection on your brand. Even if you aren't "friends" with your clients! And this is not to say there is anything wrong with any of that. You just need to consider that everything having to do with YOU is a part of your brand. 

Consistency is King

Branding is crucial for your business. It's your photographic style. It's the way you present yourself to clients, in person or in correspondence. It should always be consistent. Your BRAND is the foundation. It is how clients are attracted to you, and if it looks different every time you do not have a strong brand. And then those clients will go next door to one of the other thousands of photographers in your area for their next session. Your brand should make your clients FEEL something. They should get the same feeling every time they think about their next session with you. Is your brand funky, modern, and exciting? Your clients will feel excited about the unique images they'll get. Is your brand classic and clean? Your clients might feel a sense of calm knowing they're going to get another classic family portrait for their walls. 

Maryland Newborn Photographer Meghan Boyer Photography

There is SO much more I could talk about in this post. This is a VERY brief overview. But, it is something we'll talk in depth about at the Little Bellows Film Retreat in May! If you missed the release of that YESTERDAY, go check it out for yourself!! We hope to see you there. 


How to Create a Killer Marketing Plan for 2016


Love it or hate it, it's the most important part of your job.  It's what gets your name known in your community, brings in clients, and pays your bills.

It can also be very confusing.  Where do you even start?

I believe that to run an effective marketing campaign there a three things you must know. 

1. Know what you do.

This seems pretty straight forward but the reality is many of us are not clear on what we do.  Instead, we look around and try to do what others are doing, or what is popular, or what we think our clients want.  And I'm speaking from experience!

At the beginning of my career I shot "photo journalistic" weddings.  Why?  Because that's what was popular at the time.  Every successful photographer I met was a photo journalistic wedding photographer.  I wanted to be successful too!  So that's what I did.  

But guess what?  I hated shooting weddings.  

After two years of doing something I hated, I was burnt out and uninspired.  What I really wanted to do was work with babies and families, in a studio.  So I took a leap of faith, and started shooting what I love in a style that was 100% me!  And it made all the difference.  

When I figured out what it was that I did, I suddenly stood out in the crowd.  My work was unique.  I was happy.  And my business started to grow.  

Sandra Coan, film photography on Little Bellows

2. Know who your people are.  

Just because you're a newborn photographer doesn't mean everyone with a new baby is your ideal client. Right?  Some people love posed images of newborns curled up and sleeping in baskets and some people love unscripted lifestyle images of diaper changes, nursing and first snuggles.  Two very different kinds of clients.

Your people are clients who love what you do.  They love your style.  Your point of view.  So get to know who your people are.

Look back over last year's contracts.  Who were your three favorite clients?  The ones who totally got you.  The ones that cried from joy when you showed them their photos and then bought your premium package without batting an eye.  Now ask yourself, what do they have in common?  Figure it out.  Write it down.  Create an ideal customer profile based on those similarities. 

Those are your people.

When you know who your people are, everything falls into place.  You know what images to share, what your website should look like, where your pricing should be, what social media platforms you should be active on... all of it.  Because you know what your people like, what appeals to them, what they can afford and where they "hang out" online.

And here is the best part, the more you share what you do with your people, the more your people will tell their people, and your business will grow! Yeah!!

Sandra Coan, film photography on Little Bellows

3. Know how to communicate what you do to your people.

This is the marketing piece.  Know what you do, and tell your people about it.  That. Is. It.  

So, how do you tell your people?  

  • Blog about things your clients care about or need help with (like what to wear to a portrait session, or your favorite park for family photos).  
  • Share your images on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, where ever it is that your people are, and engage with your clients.  Talk to them.  Respond to their comments.  Build a relationship.  
  • Grow your list.  Capture client emails and send out newsletters that are full of beautiful photos and great content.  
  • Become known in your community.  Sponsor a local event or little league team.  Host a fund raiser.  I always love using my marketing budget to help out my community.  
  • And most importantly, don't feel bad about marketing.  Marketing is just sharing what you love with people who want to hear about it, and there is nothing wrong with that!




So, lets do this!  

Get out your brand new 2016 journal and write.  What do you do?  Who are your people?  Once you've answered those questions, make a list of five ways you are going to communicate what you do to your people this year.  Then do it.  Put it on your calendar and make it happen!

This year is going to be your best year yet!

-Sandra  Coan