#048: April D’s Brand Voice + Strategy Review

Ever wish someone could come in with their superhero cape and makeover your marketing?

What if you could build up your OWN cape?

Last month, I took on a marketing review for a documentary family photographer and she agreed to let me share our review publically.

For sure, I’m happy to help people with an outside perspective and firmly believe you *should* get outside perspective for various reasons. That said, I think we all need to strengthen our own ability to take a step back, develop better questions, and look at our businesses with a bird’s eye view.

So, you’ll hear step-by-step how we did April’s review: her struggles, her strengths, her goals, her brand voice, and her ACTION plan.

Enjoy the story!

Please note: there are affiliate links in this post.

Disclaimer: I find that when people think “marketing help,” they assume they’re finding the answer to automatic success.

Marketing is not the same as selling.

I talk about this more in my talk on CreativeLive with Kirsten Lewis.

My goal is to infuse April’s brand voice into her online marketing and help her to create timeless content that moves people from being total strangers into highly aligned potential clients.

My goal is not to fill up her calendar with bookings.

See the difference?

Why this matters: it’s the BEST way to leverage your time. My Top 5 visited content pieces on F&F are from 2015 & 2016. I’m getting traffic and subscribers every single day from that content AND it’s all on autopilot.

This has resulted in highly aligned audience. Most of them don’t buy just one program, they come back and buy more. Not all, there’s always some that slip through the cracks, but must do.

The best part: my content is what helps develop people into better customers. THAT is what I help others do through storytelling + timeless content.

You’re about to learn how 🙂

Meet April.

She’s a documentary family photographer in England. She’s from the U.S. She has several offerings, but wants DITL’s to be her main offer.

Her photography journey has evolved from landscape > newborns > now families + brands. When she saw Kirsten Lewis’ CL class, she said:

“I immediately fell in love.
The concept of real, raw, honest photography was whatt I was missing in my heart from landscape and from the idea of photographing people.”

April’s Current Marketing Plan:

She says she’s, “Not consistent.”

(sound familiar?)

“I’ve scheduled out my entire year with regular social posts, blogs + articles, email blasts, networking activities and google + fb ads. I’m keeping up with it only about 50% of the time.

It’s been great to have an outline to refer to, but I’m struggling with staying on top of it as I only have 2 dedicated days to work during the week and everything has to be crushed into those two 6 hour periods. It feels really good when I actually get things accomplished and conversely I feel like a total failure when I don’t do what was on my list.”

She’s getting in front of potential clients through:

  • Blogs + Articles: “I have a list of over 20 things to write about and it’s more feeling the inspiration to create the actual content and words that is sometimes a struggle.”
  • Emails: “I am also inconsistent with emails. I’m still building out my content for emails as I only have about 20 subscribers it’s not super high on my priority list.”
  • Social: “I post inconsistently to IG and almost never to my FB business page. When I post my blogs to FB I usually share them on my personal page.”
  • Networking: “I have joined a local women’s networking group (very) recently and I think that will be really great, but I have yet to see anything tangible come from it.”
  • Profitable Photography Workshops (hasn’t done this yet, but is planning on it)

“My top places for marketing have been IG, placing flyers locally in businesses I think have potential clients + village center/library, a bit on FB, and in person.

Like most people, I feel so much better behind a screen where I can carefully craft my responses and thoughts.”

She also shared:

“Getting inquiries seems to be the biggest issue. And the few inquiries I have had have not converted to clients. I’m clearly talking to the wrong people.”

Goal: 6 sessions / month.

So, let’s help April…

I’m sure some of her story mirrors your own. It’s no fun being in motion and to see very little results. My questionnaire goes much further than what we just covered, but we’d be here for hours if we went through the whole thing.

So, to help you with reviewing your own brand voice + marketing strategy, here are a few key areas I question:

  1. Bring your business to the surface: who are you helping & how? (Offers)
  2. What’s your Marketing Plan
  3. What are your current Marketing + Sales Results
  4. Deep dive into your dream clients + your stories that pair well + how you’re using them — I find that this is neglected often
  5. You: What lights YOU up? What’s the root of why you want to help people with your offer?
  6. Goals: What would feel like a win?

Then, I review and give feedback in each section, review all platforms (website, social, etc.), and finally create an Action Plan.

An Overview of my Review for April D.:

(Listen to the full episode for more details + expansion of these things)

What I look for first: synchronicities (what’s working + red flags)

What’s working:

April believes pictures can help people appreciate their lives. That’s a major part of her brand voice!

She wrote how a client, Anthony, now sees picture opportunities everywhere. That’s huge!

Red flag:

She’s not talking about this stuff anywhere! More than “talking,” start ASKING + listening more often. Suggestion: Ask everywhere. IG Polls. In your emails. In real life. On FB. Everywhere.

What’s Working:

Blog Content! Great content already, but (red flag) it’s hiding & not being shared.

Red flag:

Consistency. What can you automate? Build a content library + use it.

Red flag:

It’s clear that you’re hungry for work. There’s so many options of things to click on your website that could be preventing people from moving to your Contact Page.

What can you do to make this a bit more lean and segmented?

What about a Start Here Page?

Notes + Action Ideas on Instagram:

  • Why do I want the free photo guide? What is it? It’s a little PDF on how to take better photos with your phone. Mostly composition tips.
  • Do your ideal clients understand storytelling images? Good question. Is this something your copywriter long-term project client could help you with?
  • Watch the language of how your clients speak about their photos and mirror that, if possible.
  • Your engagement is on fire already! Suggestion: sprinkle in more questions and “you” conversational captions to include your reader. Not robotically, but more frequently than you are.
  • YES to tagging local places in your captions!! Love that you’re already doing this. How can we beef up the captions, so that they’re more likely to share them?
  • Call to Actions: Where are they? 1/17 – newsletter – and that’s all I saw. Move your readers to your website (direct them to a blog post, for example) or DM you. Give them a reason to DO something.
  • Use hashtags that local people are using more often. Keep a running list of these. Good suggestion. I’ll find more local ones. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of thinking other photographers are our audience, but they aren’t.
  • Use Later for easier, more spacious captions (it’s free)

Website notes:

  • Holy wow I love your headline: Your little days ARE your big days. Though, I think the second line could work for you better. What about: So let’s put ‘em in pictures | Documentary Family Photography in Brighton & Sussex UK (or Let’s make them feel a little louder or Let’s make ‘em last)
  • Photo 101 Workshop Pop up – not sure this is the best choice? I think it could be distracting. It’s the iphone pdf. I was trying to call it something more catchy, but I think you are right a pop up is maybe not the best.
  • You’re crushing your blog content!! Love all the content you have so far, but they’re hiding a bit. I will move the button when I do a revamp.
  • Also, what about Pinterest images? I haven’t found much benefit in Pinterest, but I don’t really know how to use it in a selling sense. Perhaps something to put on the long term planning list or workshop list.
  • Simplify navigation bar with a Start Here Page
  • Trim + tighten your blog posts, less academic text, more long, lean, and single action posts. Heard. Good feedback.

Priority Action Plan for April:

  • Make a list of questions all around appreciating your life (in terms of your dreamies). What do you want to know? What can help you understand where they struggle and what they ultimately want? Start asking them. Even better, get in the habit of doing “exit calls” with your clients.
  • Make an important contact list & use it. Check in. Help when you can. Occasionally send pitch emails. “Do you know anyone who is having a hard time in the thick of life? I’d love to help them feel more appreciate through being their family photographer.”
  • If Instagram is your jam, then try doubling your traffic to your website this next month by changing the language in your posts: add Call to Actions. See what works / what doesn’t and then see what happens once they’re on your site. Or, nix the site and see how many DM’s you can get. Once they DM you (about whatever) ask if they’d like to get on a quick call to see what opportunities are in their life to savor + record.
  • Get that email welcome series up & running, so that you can grow your list without them forgetting who you are / feeling pressure to write new emails every week

She’s also monitoring Google Analytics moving forward as well, because that’ll indicate what content your audience is / isn’t responding to. Remember, Silent Obsessors (see episode 050)?

Doing Your Own Brand Voice + Strategy Review:

If there’s one thing I know about doing a deep dive review on your own stuff, it’s ridiculously easy to go deep into fix-it mode. You see all the flaws and they can seem louder than what’s working!

Zoom in on a goal:
What would be a big WIN to achieve in your business growth / marketing after this review?

I would like what I’m putting out into the universe to be talking to MY dreamies and convert into inquiries and clients on a regular basis… refine what I’m saying, how I’m saying it and who I’m saying it to. 🙂

That’s where those priority action items come into play.

Remember, there’s no ONE, “right” way to play with marketing. Like episode 045 with Latoya Dixon-Smith about systems, every element is about your business.

But I will tell you the ONE “wrong” way to approach marketing: it’s hiding behind your computer with passive actions you throw out there & hope give you a return.

“I wrote a blog post today.”

“I shared a photo on Instagram.”

THERE’S NO AVOIDING REAL CONVERSATIONS & FEEDBACK ABOUT HOW YOUR OFFER ACTUALLY APPLIES TO YOUR POTENTIAL + ACTUAL CLIENT LIVES.

Without that, you’re working under total assumption.

You’re trusting your gut and your experiences.

This can get you clients online, but it’ll be so much faster when you invest in the time + the courage it takes to have the uncomfortable conversations with real humans and LEARN from them.

Practice your expression muscle and listen. It doesn’t matter why you believe in what you do if your potential clients don’t believe in it.

Your job as Chief Marketing Officer in your business is to get to the root of why your dream clients believe in + want your offer and in the words of Nikki Elledge Brown, communicate that with “clear, sincere, authentic copy.”

More Goodness:

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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