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Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer

Professional photography Tampa, professional headshots

At some point in our lives, we all need a professional photographer. Whether you need a photo for your web site, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, product shots for your business or photos for your wedding, there are some things that are best left to the pros. Below are some tips for hiring the right photographer for your business needs.

 

Identify your goal for the images

  • Product photography for a website
  • Product photography for a printed catalog
  • Portraits or head shots
  • Environmental photographs to tell the story of your business on your website

 

Tampa Bay law firm portrait, attorney photosReferrals

  • Keep your eyes open for photography you like
  • Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations
  • Many people have a go-to photographer that they trust
  • Make sure to be specific about what type of photography you are looking for
  • Use Google to search for keywords that fit with your goals. For instance, if you are a law firm and you want traditional head shots for your attorneys, you could search “law firm portrait photographer” or “law firm head shot photographer.” However, if you are a law firm and you want something a little different for your promotional materials, you could search for “portrait photographer” or “environmental portrait photographer” to find a wider variety of styles

 

Take the time to look at each photographer’s website and look out for the following:

  • Is their work consistent?
  • Do they show enough images to demonstrate their skill?
  • Do the images look like they are from multiple shoots or do they look like someone took a bunch of pictures of cousin Jimmy for a quick fix website?
  • Compare the work of several photographers side by side – you will start to see large differences in the quality of work of photographers who claim to be professionals
  • Look at client testimonials and reviews to see if the photographer has a good reputatiion

 

Consider your budget

  • If these photos are important enough for you to seek out a professional photographer, expect to pay a professional photographer’s rate
  • Research market rates. There is a lot of information on the internet about professional photography rates and you will see that exceptional work is not cheap

 

Contact

  • Once you narrow down your choices, call or email several photographers for rates – communicate what you are looking for as clearly as possible, including where the images will be used, how many images you need
  • Compare the work/rates and the pros and cons of each photographer to narrow down your choices

 

Meet face-to-face with the photographer before making your final decision

  • Part of finding the right photographer is finding the right personality fit
  • A good photographer will ask a lot of questions about the project to get a very thorough sense of what you are looking for
  • Great photographers may even turn down a project because it’s not a good fit. If they have a recommendation, make sure to follow up on it

 

Finding a professional photographer for high quality business photos is not an easy task, but it does not have to be incredibly difficult either. Thorough research and clear communication are your best tools, and it is well worth the time and effort it takes to do both. Too often, business owners choose a less expensive photographer to save money, but end up having to reshoot when the images are disappointing or do not serve the intended purpose. Avoid paying twice by hiring a true professional and being very clear about your expectations.

 

Pinstripe Marketing offers professional photography as one of our many services. Photography is one aspect of a complete marketing strategy – our images are created to fit the story of each brand we work with. From environmental portraits for editorial use to modern head shots for your website, Pinstripe Marketing can help you create beautiful images specifically for your project.

 

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Do You Have Your ‘Elevator Speech’ Ready?

Tampa Bay marketing firmYou and a stranger are standing in a hotel lobby waiting for an elevator. He has the appearance of a fine, upstanding chap and you’re in an affable mood so you comment on what a nice day it is. He’s welcoming of conversation. Additional pleasantries ensue, followed by introductions and the customary handshake. The elevator finally arrives and just as you and your new friend step inside, he asks about your business.

It’s time for the ‘elevator speech.’

Of course, this is a very literal exposition on phrase; it can take place practically anywhere. The elevator speech is brief (the time it takes to take a typical elevator ride), to the point, and delivered in a casual, conversational way. It’s the friendly alternative to a dull recitation of your organization’s vital statistics or suggesting someone visit your company’s website.

An elevator speech shouldn’t be confused with company ‘boilerplate’ that commonly appears as a paragraph at the end of a press release. The purpose of PR boilerplate is to identify your business—where it’s located, when was it founded, what it sells—and to let people know where to get more information. An elevator speech, on the other hand, informs the audience why an organization is worth getting to know in the first place.

Elevator Speeches Can Pave the Way for Future Sales

We’ve all seen the stereotypical sales rep in movies and TV shows—annoying people who never miss an opportunity to launch their pitch. Doubtlessly such behavior in real life would be a colossal turn-off. As annoying as such salespeople would be, however, they are correct in realizing chance encounters might possibly bear fruit as a sale.  A nicely crafted elevator speech gently plants the seed.

You simply never know what doors new acquaintances might open—either as a buyer or as a potential referral. And when people ask you about your business, they’ve given you permission to ‘promote,’ so take advantage.

But what if you’re a dentist, a CPA or some other professional or highly skilled service provider operating a small business? People are already familiar with those occupations, so how much of an elevator speech could these professionals need? The answer is “just as much as any other company.” There may be a lot of other folks in your line of work, but there’s only one business that depends on your skills and unique expertise. Here’s your chance to differentiate your operation from your competition.

Tell Your Company’s Story in 30 Seconds or Less

It’s time now to sit down at your computer (or pen and paper if you’re decidedly old school). The goal will be to tell a story, and do so in about 75 words or less. As with most stories, there are three essential parts:

  • Introduction – Identify your business and its general purpose.
  • Body –  Describe your typical customers’ needs or challenges
  • Conclusion –  Close with how your business benefits your customers.

Example: I own Big Mike’s Express IT. We set up computer networks, provide disaster backup systems, monitor hardware and software for problems as well as other related services. Our clients are mostly local small-to-midsize businesses. They need fairly robust information technology but lack the in-house resources to manage their own systems. Basically, we solve our clients’ IT problems so they can concentrate on what they do best.

Your value proposition should play prominently in your elevator speech—so your audience understands how your business benefits your customers. Be aware, however, that honesty is THE fundamental element in a good elevator story. If you believe what you are saying, your listener will be more likely to believe it as well. Sincerity comes through.

Finally, let’s say you’ve carefully distilled, refined, crafted and edited your words to deliver maximum impact in the least possible amount of time. You don’t want it to sound rehearsed. Read through your elevator speech a couple of times, then set it aside and try to repeat it aloud. The idea isn’t to recite it word-for-word; in fact, that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. Your delivery should sound natural. As long as you hit your main points and deliver them in the right order, you’re prepared to help your business make a good (and memorable) first impression.

For some additional takes on elevator speeches, you may want to check out the following articles:

Tampa Bay public relations

The Power of Color

Tampa Bay advertising agency, graphic design, web design, brochure design, newsletter design, logo designDid you know that color can evoke emotion and affect your decision-making? Did you realize that it is a powerful non-verbal communication tool?

 

Color is so prolific, it even affects the way you spend your money. Nearly every color used in the logos and campaigns of the well-known brands you see every day was painstakingly chosen using data from research teams, theorists, and focus group testing. Color is not an afterthought in advertising. It is one of the most important considerations for a brand, as it can evoke so many subtleties in perception that it may end up being the determining factor of success for a company. Even the seemingly dismissible variation in a dusty blue versus a navy blue may steer perception in the wrong direction and sever communication. Color is everything. It is everywhere.

 

Even the absence of color is a profound statement; the minimalist’s white canvas with black text speaks volumes with seemingly so little. Over the years, trends have come and gone, but the grace and elegance of black and white has remained steady. Other elemental colors have taken a firm position in the psyche as well – red is associated with stopping and may trigger alarm, blue is soothing and evokes trustworthiness and dependability, yellow is energetic and cheerful, and green can signify freshness or eco-friendly principles.

 

While these colors have deep roots in our media-saturated world, new shades and variations of our primary colors are created every day. Artists mix colors and experiment with complimentary hues, designers create logos with variations on the foundational red, yellow and blue. Beautiful shades of color line the walls of every paint store, and artists’ palettes are virtually unlimited. Pantone has even started a Color of the Year campaign, in which a color is chosen based on the perceived cultural essence for a particular year. The colors of the year for 2016 are Rose Quartz and Serenity. The choice is based on cultural and economic cues that consumers are seeking respite from the stresses of daily life, and softness of the two colors – even the names Rose Quartz and Serenity – indicate a meditative, calming effect that seems to be exactly what people are craving. Read more about Pantone’s Color(s) of the Year.

Tampa Bay advertising agency, graphic design, web design, brochure design, newsletter design, logo design

People love color, people communicate with color. It is a driving force in design of all kinds, from home décor to advertising, and one of the few crucial threads that runs through every aspect of our lives, connecting everything around us. Can you remember a time when color affected you, your decisions, or your mood?

 

Check out this fun color palette creator that lets you experiment with different color combinations and share your creations with the community.

 

Another great site for Pantone color connoisseurs.

Tampa Bay public relations

 

Marketing as a New Year’s Resolution

marketing new year's resolutions tampa bay marketing florida advertising agency

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to grow your business? To do more marketing? To be more strategic? To work smarter, not harder? You’re not alone! Each year, our phones start ringing on January 2nd with clients ready to start off strong.

If you need support to refresh your brand, launch that new web site, generate new content, shoot new videos, design new marketing collateral, build relationships with the media, or just to keep you on track – we’re here for you. Let’s set up a meeting and discuss your resolutions!

Be More Awesome in 2016!

What Makes a Survey Worthwhile?

marketing surveys, focus groups, research, tampa bay marketing, florida marketing research firm

We’re all familiar with ubiquitous greeting, “How are you?” Instinctively, we understand the only socially acceptable answer is “I’m fine.” If someone is truly interested, he or she might place a hand on our shoulder, look into our eyes with a concerned expression and say, “Seriously, how are you?” That’s how you should approach any survey conducted for marketing purposes; you must sincerely care about getting a truthful answer.

Of course, there’s one really big difference in our analogy: A survey for your business may seem to inquire as to how your customers feel, but what you’re really asking is, “How am I?” You may not really care how Uncle Ed is adjusting to his low-sodium diet, but you do have a huge interest in your own company.

Honesty in survey responses is everything. Only accurate answers are going to provide the intelligence you need for: identifying your true value proposition and managing your brand; making decisions regarding your product or service offerings; correcting operational deficiencies; or taking advantage of developing opportunities.

Getting the Most from a Marketing Survey

Caring about what your customers (or prospective customers) really think about your business is just the starting point for creating a worthwhile survey. Here are a few rules for survey construction that will put you on a path to gaining actionable information.

Use perfect grammar. We have grammar rules for reason—they help us better understand the messages carried by language. Consider the difference made by something as seemingly innocuous as comma placement. Consider: “Let’s eat, kids,” vs. “Let’s eat kids.”

Screen your survey subjects. Is the respondent a customer or someone who could easily become a customer? Demographics-related questions will help answer these questions. You might also want to ask questions to help weed out anyone with an incentive to provide faulty information such as someone working for a competitor.

Be clear what you are asking about. Ambiguity is your enemy. Generally speaking, short, direct questions are best—provided there’s a relatively limited list of logically possible answers. Longer questions can be okay provided they help narrow the respondent’s focus by setting parameters of consideration.

Group questions for logical progression. How questions are arranged will aid your subjects’ focus on various areas of interest within a survey. For longer surveys, distinctive grouping will help respondents feel they are making progress completing the questionnaire.

Provide applicable answer options. Many questionnaires provide survey subjects with a range of answer options—usually four or five. This will work fine, if you’re confident the vast majority of respondents will choose some answer other than “I don’t know” or “N/A.” A better approach may be to ask subjects to pick a point on a sliding scale to indicate their level of agreement, like or dislike, likelihood of taking some kind of action … etc., in response to the question.

Keep it brief. Any survey that takes longer than 5 – 10 minutes for the average person to complete is probably going to test respondent patience. You don’t want people to give up—or worse—hurriedly answer questions without regard to accuracy. If the survey absolutely has to be longer than 10 minutes, give the subject fair warning before they begin.

Once you have your completed surveys in hand, the real fun begins as you tabulate results. (Some people actually do enjoy statistical analysis … others, not so much.) Here are three important steps:

  • Group your respondents by their demographic profiles to help spot trends.
  • Record every question result to establish a baseline against which to measure future surveys.
  • Review poll results with an eye toward improving your next survey. (For instance, too many “N/A” or “no opinion” answers indicate a problem.)
  • Follow through and follow up. There’s really no point of doing a survey unless you act on the results. Additionally, you want to let your respondents know that you value their input, with some small token of appreciate if possible but a thank you email at a minimum.

The ‘science’ of surveys is relatively straightforward. The ‘art’ is in the interpretation. Initial thoughts of “what does this mean?” will often be followed by “but what does this really mean?” Talk the results over with: trusted staff members, friendly peers in your industry, insightful friends and family members, or even some of your best, longest-term customers. An openness to other assessments will keep you from hearing just what you want to hear, or from making mountains out of molehills.

Finally, resist the urge to be defensive in your reaction to negative survey results. Marketing research is designed to help improve your business. (You can’t improve what’s already perfect … and no organization is perfect.) Think of criticism as being like a friend who lets you know you have spinach stuck on a front tooth.  Conversely, if your feedback is glowingly positive, don’t simply set back on your laurels in smug satisfaction. Build on success by getting busy using the things you do well as a springboard for new outreach and business growth.

P.S. For more information about surveys, you might check out these online articles:

Sharing Survey Secrets at the American Marketing Association Conference

How to Create a Market Survey

Constructing a Questionnaire

How to Get More People to Take Your Survey

Analysis and Handling Survey Data

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