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By Ben Ham
Last month, I discussed the seemingly painful job of networking. Once I dipped my toe in the networking pool, so to speak, I found the opposite. It was actually fun and rewarding, both personally and financially. And, it builds a brand that people recognize, remember, and share with others.
The next step goes hand in hand with networking. You need to advertise to build a brand. Decide on your target market. Look at the publications available in your area, and seek out the best. If your budget is limited, you will be better off doing a single larger ad in the best publication in your area instead of a series of small ads in the newspaper or smaller publications.
If there is a major local magazine in your area, it will be your best choice. It tends to have the most staying power. It will sit on the coffee table at least a month, or most likely longer. Newspapers are tossed on a daily basis.
There are certain times, however, when a newspaper works. If you’re a wedding photographer, advertise in the yearly wedding special. Newspapers and magazines create feature sections and will often give their advertisers a free photograph and short write-up to go along with their ad.
Once you've identified the publication for advertising, it's time to plan and design an ad campaign for maximum results. Contact the sales rep and find out sizes and rates. A rep will usually give you a better rate than is listed on the publication's website or media kit. And, make sure their target demographic is your demographic.
Try to pry as much readership data as you can from the sales rep. A good publication is also interested in capturing as much data as possible since this is their lifeblood. They understand (or should understand) that more data yields more advertising as the numbers bolster their pitch. Sure, large circulation numbers are great, but do they know how many of their readers fall into a certain income bracket, or have children, or any number of other variables important to you and your marketing/branding objectives? Dig as deeply as you possibly can into their readership numbers.
Do not, and let me repeat this... do not do anything smaller than a 1/3 or 1/4 page ad. A 1/2 page is better, and of course a full page has great impact. A 1/3 of a page is the smallest ad I will run. You will find that the smaller the ad the farther back in the publication it will be, plus you’ll be surrounded by more small ads. It all just tends to run together, and for the most part is overlooked by the reader.
You have several choices here. You can design and create the ad yourself, you can have the magazine do it, or you can hire a graphic designer.
If you decide to do it yourself (and you have the tools) you will save a little money. But don't let this be a determining factor. You want a great looking ad that people will see and respond to. I design and produce my own ads, but I have some experience in graphic design and I have a full arsenal of software. Ask your rep for the mechanicals for the ad. This will give you the size to produce the ad and file specifications.
Ads should be clean with very little text. Take some time to look at well-known advertisers in major magazines. Study their ads. They are promoting a feeling around their ad. Remember, we are branding.
Take a look at this example.:
The ad on the left is full of copy. Fred wants us to know everything he does. The problem is our eye doesn't know what to look at. He has used seven different font styles. You should use no more than three, and two is better. They should be easy to read. You may think that ornate script looks great, but it is hard to read and should not be used. They should also be of two different classes.
In Fred's efforts to tell us everything about his work, he has created an ad the viewer will breeze over. He doesn't convey a sense of class.
The ad on the right is devoid of all of the copy. It is much cleaner. Your eye stops and enjoys the image. He has also created a tag line, Capturing the Special Times in Your Life. A tag line is a great way to develop your image and should be a repeating theme in your marketing. He has included more white space in the ad, framing the image.
It is a much classier presentation and speaks of Fred's sense of style. He looks more professional, expensive, and a photographer the client would want to hire. After all, most people want the best money can buy. And those are the clients we want.
You should run your ads in every publication date, if possible. You may want to skip an issue during a slow time, but it never hurts to keep in front of the public eye. Keep the same format for your ads. You may switch up the image, but the layout should stay pretty much the same.
Take the same concept and carry it over into other forms of advertising. This ad layout would make a great postcard. My business card is a double-sided 4x6 postcard in basically the same layout as my ads. One side has my coastal photography and the other has my Colorado work. Keep a common theme, and see if you can carry it over into other forms of advertising. We’re artists, so always think visual. In a nutshell, get your work out in front of the public.
I hope this will give you some tools to use in planning your marketing strategy. Our work is great, but we need to let the buying public know so they can take advantage of the creativity we have to offer. Remember that this will take a little time. But, once you start putting these tools to work you will be surprised how quickly you will start to see results.
Good luck with it. I know you are going to be a great success!
Ben Ham owns and operates Ben Ham Images in Hilton Head, S.C. His fine-art photography is featured nationwide in showcase homes and venues across the nation and overseas.