Context & Values - Part 1 by Stephanie Posadas
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Thursday, May 23, 2013
By Stephanie Posadas
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The written elements of your marketing can be fairly common sense. After all, it's a session name, short description and the contact information to book a session. However, there is a lot of power in a few short sentences that you can harness if you step back a moment or two and consider the context of the marketing as well as the context of your reader. This will quickly highlight values that you will want to either emphasize or re-frame, depending on your target market.


Marketing Context

There are many different contexts that you might utilize for your marketing. A blog post, a mailer, a door hanger, a tweet, a Facebook update, a poster, a website, a magazine or newspaper ad and so on. Each one has a fairly unique pace. A blog is leisurely and conversational. Facebook posts are more to-the-point and attention grabbing. (Tweets are even more so.) The context of your marketing is an important factor in how you approach the campaign or special offer. If you are using just one of these contexts you should craft your message accordingly. For multiple outlets, it's not a bad idea to tweak the message for the most oomph for each specific medium. This isn't in stone by any means, but here are some recommendations for different marketing contexts:



Start out with a joke, personal story or some type of hook. It's good to get personal, so your readers feel connected to you and want to return often. The hook should be loosely connected to the campaign or initiative you are pushing, giving you a way to segue into that conversation. Pictures are another key element to a blog post. You should try to pull the reader in by explaining the situations in the portraits or session highlights. I think behind-the-scenes pictures can be especially intriguing to the everyday reader, whether posted with or in place of actual portraits from a session. End with a clear call to action and a phone number.



Your website is similar to the blog, in that you have more space and time is on your side. When someone visits your blog, a lot of the work has been done already. They know who you are, they are looking for what you have to offer and they want details at that point. Your reader is engaged and curious. That said, they are likely browsing through several other photography websites as well, so you can afford to be personal and specific but you want to keep things a little more structured than you would with a blog post.

Whether you choose first person or a third person perspective (I prefer third, but it really is just taste and preference) you want to maintain that throughout the whole website. One tab shouldn't say, "We take pride…" and then the next… "[Studio Name] has been serving the [City] area for over ten years…"

Each tab should have a clear function. Look at them as questions, and the copy on that page is answering them for your reader. Home - who you are. About - what you do. Pricing - Can they afford you? Gallery -Can they afford NOT to have you? Testimonials - who else likes you? Contact - how to learn more.

There are other posts on the blog about website design that I highly recommend to learn how to make the most of this context, and they do get more in depth. But for this discussion, it's important to view each page as a question that you need to answer fairly concisely.


Mailers, emails and Door Hangers

This type of marketing should be very visually appealing. The verbiage can pull a design down if it's too heavy, so try to keep the headline (session type or event name) and logo on the front with sample portraits and then on the back use clear and precise language to describe the promotion, ending with a call to action and phone number. This is all you have room for in this context, and it's more than most people want to read when they are mulling over their inbox, mail or absent-mindedly gathering leaflets off their door. Again, the visual appeal is so paramount in these contexts, because sadly it's automatically "junk mail". The design has to be outstanding enough to rise above that label.


Social Media

When it comes to tweets, Facebook statuses, instagrams and all the rest, there are many ways to enhance your message. But the outcome of these efforts is not usually as direct as the mailers or blog. Here you're looking for likes, followers, retweets, etc. Some (perhaps many) of these will not be actual clients that you serve. But they do speak volumes. A photographer with thousands of likes and followers is probably more skilled than one with 12. As unfair as that might seem, it's common sense to accept this type of judgment and use it in your favor. You can get plenty of activity on your social media posts with the use of hashtags. These make a topic easy to search and view a trend in activity. You can add your location for more isolated results. For Facebook, while your hashtags might show up if your accounts are linked, they won't be effective, so it can help to tag people in the portrait samples. With a little effort you can find your clients, friend them and tag away. (this is absolutely worth the effort!)

Quirky, gimmicky things usually work better than straight forward messages. You want to lead people to your website or blog, get them on your mailing list, etc. So a teaser will work beautifully. Instead of, "Had a beautiful engagement session at [location name] today." With a sample image, you could say something like, "The future Mr. and Mrs. [name] engagement session" or "One of the cutest couples I've photographed" with a few silly hashtags like the location name, #truelove #engaged #engagementsession #hisandhers #forever #bridetobe and so on. Then just link to the blog or wherever your samples are, instead of adding them right to the site. (unless it's exclusively a photo sharing site.)

One last thing on social media, it's good to post, but also very important to talk back! Don't ignore new followers, likes, comments, retweets and other activity. Respond, reciprocate and generate new conversations. This will help your profile garner more attention. Granted, it's a marathon effort, but one not to be overlooked!

Here are some people who became famous via these free outlets just in the last year. Some of  them might surprise you! While these are more extreme, over-the-top-silly examples, it just goes to show how being "well situated" with social media can literally change your life (or at least your year).


Larger Ads

Posters, newspaper and magazine ads are a little different than a mailer, but most similar compared to the other contexts. You still have less space and time to work with, but you do have a little more of your reader's attention from the get-go. They are reading their favorite local parenting or bridal magazine and their mind is perfectly primed for a pitch. This is where you can use a gimmick approach (similar to a social media approach) and then a direct call to action. There might be room for more of a description, but I would recommend using that space for sample portraits. You basically just want to establish value and give them a number to call. So a cute line like: "Remember each dimple… [logo] …cherish every giggle" for a baby studio. -or- "Tell your love story" for a wedding or engagement campaign, will grab attention and set the stage for a clear sub-header and call to action. (i.e. Baby Portraits by [Studio Name] Call to schedule your complimentary consultation today. Xxx-xxx-xxxx


These are only a few of the most common contexts that can be used for your marketing, but with others that I haven't discussed, simply put yourself in that scenario and decide how much time and attention you would realistically give.

This is part of a series, so part 2 will cover the sub-context of your readers (the target market) and how to discover, and appeal to their values.


Happy writing!




Do you have any writing tips that have helped your marketing in these contexts? Please share in the comment section below! 


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