Marketing Mondays: Content Marketing for Photographers

I'm sitting here watching the Superbowl and I can't help but over analyze everything. Every commercial, every graphic, every time slot placement, everything. It's so fascinating how big events are put together from a marketing aspect and then it hit me... I haven't continued my Marketing Monday series. WHOOPS. 

So here I am, back again after an exhaustive SEO series and now, I want to discuss one of the biggest marketing trends in 2015... Content Marketing. 

BUT WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING? 

This is something that wasn't covered in any of my college classes (at least that I remember) and it wasn't until I started working full time that I realized its importance. 

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
— CMI (http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/)

CM is essentially story telling by brands and companies to gain audience attention, loyalty, and ultimately, sales. Let's take a look at the Superbowl ads.. What trends did you notice? I bet while you were sitting there on your couch, you were so entertained that you didn't even realize it was a commercial, let alone trying to sell you something. For example, the Nationwide commercial about the little kids dying... a little excessive right? However it was the first ad to pop into my head to use as an example BECAUSE it was so excessive. Tugging on your heart strings or making you laugh until you cry is the #2 goal of marketers these days. (#1 of course being brand recognition) -- They want to leave a memorable impression so that when you come into a buying situation, you will remember their ad and therefore purchase their product. This is so different than several years ago where commercials consisted of product shots and cold selling. It's a real sign of the times where commercials look like mini movies instead of product advertisements. Let's go further into CM by analyzing the Budweiser commercials. A few years ago, it began with the horses. Last year, they added the horses and the puppies. Finally, this year, they added yet another piece of the story. They have created an ad legacy where consumers are sincerely looking forward to seeing what will come next. That is something that no amount of money can flat out buy you and it is so crucial to creating and sustaining a solid brand. 

So how does this help me as a photographer? 

As photographers, we are in a unique situation for content marketing. Every single time we go shoot, we meet new people, hear their stories, and get to experience some huge milestones in their lives. Too many photographers are taking that for granted and not sharing their stories with the world. I'm definitely not suggesting to go put your clients' personal information on blast, but I recommend using the unique situations we come across as a tool for gaining more exposure and creating a loyal following. Some of my favorite photographers are constantly blogging about an experience they had at a wedding, a family member's story, or even their own personal lives. The goal of CM is to create unique, relevant, and valuable content that will bring people to your site, get you exposure, and ultimately, have more people book. 

A great example (intentional or not) is Katelyn James. Every photographer has heard her name and she has built one heck of a blog following. How did she do it?! Well other than her gorgeous work, she is creating content that people ACTUALLY want to read. I know Katelyn is an avid blogger but she has used that to her advantage and is now selling advertisement slots on her blog (brilliant).  She posts anything from decorating to her own personal fitness goals and people LOVE to be able to relate to such a successful business woman, so they not only read a blog post, but they come back every day/week. I can speak for a lot of her blog followers when I say that they go to feel empowered and inspired. Does she write these posts for solely marketing purposes? Most likely not. Does it bring her website traffic, bookings, followers, and SEO up? You bet it does. 

My good friends over at Luke & Ashley Photography are doing a great job with content marketing as well by doing a weekly blog series called "52 Weeks", "Letters to the Bride", etc. Ashley is blogging about juggling wedding photography with her kids one day and sharing vital wedding advice to brides on another day. She's generating content that brings traffic to her site, but more importantly, let's clients see the NON-business side and so many of us forget that. We forget that we are humans and creative humans at that. Not just business people. 

Content Marketing is a jungle and it's something that is still very new to me, so I am not an expert by any means. Because of that, I am going to post my favorite resources below. I highly suggest skimming through these links to get a better idea of what will work for YOUR brand! These articles have really helped me grasp the concept and understand how CM works in conjunction with other marketing aspects.  

How To Provide Unique Value in Your Content

How To Succeed With Content Marketing In Organic Search

B2B Marketers: Why Organic Content Is Your Weapon Of Choice

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Posted by Ashley Lester.