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Building a Strong Brand

Today’s guest post comes from SCU President and founder of Marketing Essentials International, Skip Cohen.

Over the last several years I’ve written about virtually every aspect a photographer needs to pay attention to when it comes to building your brand. Brand awareness is all encompassing and about every aspect of your business. Today’s post is a reminder – don’t put all your eggs in just one basket, or even two or three. Social media is important, but just a Facebook page or Pinterest isn’t enough. Building your brand and marketing is about weaving a web around your target audience. It’s about being everywhere they are and it really is that simplistic, at least in terms of reach.

  • Website:
    Is your website as good as it could be?
  • Blog:
    Are you posting on a consistent basis? Are your posts relevant to what your audience wants to read?
  • Facebook:
    Do you have a business page on Facebook? With the new parameters that keep changing with FB, you need a business page to promote.
  • Pinterest:
    I’m just getting to know it myself, but for photographers, Pinterest can be an incredibly valuable tool for reaching your audience.
  • Twitter:
    It’s not as strong as Facebook, but for a younger target audience it could be a solid component to keep your name out there and be helpful.
  • Direct Mail:
    It’s still strong, but it’s got to be done right. Remember to bring in partners to share the costs when designing a post card or brochure.
  • Print Advertising:
    It’s still alive and can be very effective. However, it has to be used together with all the other tools for reach you’ve got available. Also, if you’re not going to run your ad at least three times in a row, then don’t waste your money!
  • Email Blasts:
    Still good and still effective, but only if you do them right. Work with a professional company who can help you create a strong message/campaign. Plus, just an email blast by itself, won’t help you much if you don’t have a presence in other areas.
  • Publicity:
    How often are you publishing a press release about some aspect of your business and things you’re involved with?
  • Community Involvement:
    You’ve got to get involved in your community. People like buying products from companies they perceive as giving something back. You’re looking for the community to be good to you – so you better make sure you’re good to the community.
  • Promotions:
    You need to have something going on each quarter, but it doesn’t have to be a discount. Contact your lab and album companies and look for special products you can offer as a seasonal bonus. Remember to consider partnerships in building a promotional campaign.
  • Networking:
    Sometimes the most obvious people who should be in your network are completely ignored. Get out, pound the pavement and introduce yourself to every business within a 2-5 mile radius of your base location. You don’t have to sell anything, just make sure they know you’re a photographer and available to help with any of their imaging needs. This is all about relationship building.

There are twelve action items on this list and within each there are probably a half dozen subcategories. Just remember, they won’t do you a bit of good if you can’t walk the talk! If your skill set isn’t up to par, you’ll create more problems that will weaken the components of the strong brand you want to build!

Photography is one of those career fields where your education never stops. Keep working to raise the bar on your skill set and at the same time build your marketing strategy. They all go together!


Skip Cohen is President of SCU, founder of Marketing Essentials International and past president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He’s been an active participant in the photographic industry since joining Hasselblad USA in 1987 as president. He has co-authored six books on photography and actively supports dozens of projects each year involving photographic education.

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