Back in the fall of 1963 I was still in high school. I grew up in a pretty small town - lots of stop signs, but no traffic signals. Job opportunities were pretty limited for someone too young to work legally in a store or factory, so I had a job after school delivering newspapers. Back then there were still three daily papers (now one) - the one I delivered was an evening paper. It was published in a larger city about 40 miles away and dropped off for delivery about the time we got out of class.
My own interest in the content of the papers I delivered was usually limited. But that changed on November 22nd when president Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. It had been reported briefly over the loudspeakers at school during the day, so by the time I went to pick up my papers for delivery, I was anxious to read what it had to say, in hopes of filling in more details. The paper wrapped around the bundle to keep the wire from damaging the papers screamed PRESIDENT KILLED IN DALLAS. But, when I pulled out the papers I was supposed to deliver, I found they had absolutely nothing to say about the assassination. Since we were an outlying area, our papers were printed first -- too early it turned out to include the hottest news - and probably the only news anyone cared about on that particular afternoon. The bundle had been wrapped in the front page of a later edition that only went to the city in which the paper was published.
As I went around delivering the papers I had, I wondered whether I should even bother - would anyone care?
This morning in April of 2010, almost 47 years later, I took my dog for his morning walk. The further I went, the harder I found it to breathe. So, curious as to the reason, I took my smart phone out of my pocket, clicked on the browser and went to Pollen.com and got the forecasted pollen counts for my town on that morning. It was a 10.4 day on a 12.0 scale, which is well into the red zone - meaning even casual and mild allergy sufferers will have trouble. I could have read all the late breaking headlines, but I also got very personalized up to the minute information on a subject my old newspaper would never have even published.
Not only did smart phones not exist back then - neither did the internet, or personal computers! How we get our information, be it headlines or product information has changed dramatically. And it continues to change (see Mashable.com and Trendwatching.com).
And the recognition of that fact, and the problem of trying to understand what it means to marketing for our photographic services and products is why I attended the educational seminar of the Vermont Association of Wedding Professionals yesterday at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont.
Our speaker for the day was Carey Earle of Green Apple Marketing. She calls herself a serial entrepreneur and brand stylist who began her career on Madison Avenue. She spent 20 years crafting brand strategy and marketing messages for some of the world's most respected brands and high growth companies. She is an adjunct instructor of marketing at New York University and has co-authored two books -- "The Know How Network," and "Business In A Backpack." A native of Vermont, Carey now runs her business, Green Apple Marketing, from a log cabin here, where she serves clients from Hong Kong and Seoul to New York and Haines, Alaska.
The seminar focused on social media - blogging, facebook and twitter - and their uses for business management. While it is quite clear these media can absorb a colossal amount of your time, the question was how they can be used to help business. The bottom line is that these new media ARE where our customers are, so the question is how to meet them where they are -- but effectively.
Carey had some suggested best practices which included:
- Engage in new channels where your customers are - 400 million people have used Facebook, for example. It is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
- Be conversational right from the start.
- Make social media part of the job, just like email and snail-mail.
- Share the love - promote others with whom you work.
- Synchronize content across channels.
- Emphasize quality, not just quantity of posts.
- Keep relationships alive and growing - do not neglect "fans" once a connection has been made.
- Like it or not, we (VAWP) are part of the Vermont brand.
- 80% of your communications should be about things of potential interest to customers; only 20% about you and your business directly.
- Use the "alerts" functions inherent in these media.
- Make the web site the central hub of your communications strategy
- Design website for regular change and useability
- Go beyond credentials - share unique things about you and your business
- Be candid and authentic
To be honest we have not had time to figure out what all this means yet for Ayer Photography. We did, however, walk away with several key things that we can apply to our business soon, and then evolve and expand as we get our strategy refined. First steps: clean up our website - which is in progress, but not yet complete; and we started our first blog (which you are reading). Look for more to come.
Posted by Warren