Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Advertising In Blog Comments = Brand Damage

I tend to avoid writing negatively worded articles, but after encountering yet another poor attempt at marketing, I think it's time to address a marketing tactic that will ultimately do more damage to your brand: Advertising in Blog Comments. Whoever thought that posting advertisements in the comments of blogs clearly is not a blogger or familiar with the whole "social" aspect of social media.

Example:
"Thanks for posting such a nuice articles....you can hire lenses from our company for photo shoots..." (company name omitted)

I'm sad to say that this was an actual comment posted to our blog, and it's just one of many that has annoyed me and made me run for the "delete" button. First off, it's misspelled, which comes across online as stupidity. Secondly, a compliment followed by an advertisement basically reveals the insincerity of the compliment. Thirdly, the comment was made on a blog post that had low relevance to the brand of the company. What the company actually accomplished in their blog comment was that I now associate stupidity, insincerity, and annoyance with the company brand that was attached to the blog comment. I do feel bad that there's probably an actual person behind that comment, but I also think they need to learn that this isn't an acceptable form of marketing.

Solution:
There is a "right way" to utilize blog comments as a form of marketing, but it requires genuine interest in the content being shared by the blogger. It requires you to actually read and post a question or idea that's relevant to the article's topic. If your comment is interesting or engaging, people will naturally want to know more about the person or company posting the comment, which will result in a higher click-through rate and greater brand recognition. By genuinely engaging in relevant topics with people who care about things that affect your target market, you create a stronger brand. It takes more time and energy, but the results are much more positive and long-lasting.

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: Kelly Moore Bag

We've had some meetings in the past months and one of the things we wanted to start doing here at Photo Lovecat is review things being sold that are aimed at photographers. This is going to include workshops, books, DVDs, products and more. Is there an item you want the skinny on? Let us know in the comments!

The first item I'm reviewing is the Kelly Moore Bag. I chose it basically because I had just got it when we started discussing reviewing products for PLC and I have put it through its paces in the past month so I feel that I've used it enough to give it a full review.

Kelly Moore Bag Review

I love my Shootsac. No, you don’t understand me. I REALLY love my Shootsac. I don’t even want to confess to the amount of covers I have, but let’s just say that it’s a hefty number. However, the one thing I do not love about my Shootsac is that I don’t have the ability to put my camera in it. Sometimes, you just don’t want a camera hanging from your neck. In comes the Kelly Moore Bag, which offers lens holding and camera holding in one stylish bag. I bought one after seeing someone else’s and getting Moore Envy.

Here’s my thoughts on the bag. Remember, this is just MY thoughts for MY use of the bag.

Use of the bag:

I think that it is important to know what I bought this bag FOR when reviewing the product. It helps you have an idea in mind of what I’m reviewing it on.

* Use for travel for non-professional trips. I fly in/out of a small airport and my Think Tank International always has to be checked, ALWAYS. I have a backpack but that sucker gets heavy. This would be used for those trips that are just for fun.

* Use to take to parties, holidays and family events where I know I’ll eventually have to bring my camera out but I don’t want to have it out in the open for kids to grab and use.

* Use for portrait sessions where I don’t use as many lenses as I do during a wedding shoot.

* Flash bag for weddings (right now I use a Coach tote bag and would like to have dividers).


Pros:

+ VERY stylish, offers the ability to be a camera bag & purse.

+ Love all of the color options.

+ Ability to hold camera bodies.

+ Dividers come out (they are velcro) to make more room.

+ Many pockets for small camera gear, accessories, keys etc.

+ Strap is adjustable, allowing you to strap across the body if need be.

+ Allows you to covertly carry gear without screaming I have thousands of dollars of equipment in here!

+ Love that there is a zippered pocket to keep things super secure (cf cards, keys etc).


Cons:

- Nikon 70-200 VR sits too high to allow the bag to close properly allowing the content of the bag to be seen by anyone that gives a curious look your way, kills the “covert camera bag” thing.

- The lenses do sit inside the compartments, but still move around a lot. I wish that they were able to be snuggled a bit tighter.

- Cannot move the dividers, just take them in/out.

- Needs a padded shoulder pad.

- Not sure what the super tiny pockets on the side would hold other than business cards.

- Magnetic closures don’t seem to hold well. The ones on the front seem to pop open pretty easily.


Final Thoughts:

During the test period with this bag I traveled to/from/around Las Vegas and also used it for a portrait shoot. While the bag was exactly what I wanted for the portrait shoot, the bag doesn't work for what I want and need it for during travel. The bottom line is I want a bag that looks good and also can carry my gear covertly and since the snaps don't close on top, my gear is still open to be seen. Another issue with the top not closing is that when I have to put the bag in the overhead compartment when flying, I have to worry about my gear sliding out. The simple solution would be to just not carry my 70-200 when using this bag but it's my go-to lens so that's not a solution for me. I plan on selling my bag.

If I were a Canon shooter (or didn't love my Nikon 70-200 so much) I would probably be completely sold on this bag as I really do love the design. I can't say enough how beautiful it is and how much I love the detailing on it. However, it doesn't do what I need it to do and at that price ($200+) it's really too expensive of a bag to keep for eye candy! If you are a Canon shooter, I am jealous that you can use this bag for everything I want it for!

While at WPPI I did talk with Kelly about what the future plans are for the bag. She said that she did realize that there is an issue with the Nikon 70-200 and she went off the specs on the Nikon website when designing the bag and taking the end cap off should help (it doesn’t and I think that may be for the 70-200 VRII). She is already designing a new bag with room for the Nikon 70-200 and the top will have a zipper in lieu of the snaps. She also plans on releasing a mens version. So, if you're Nikon gal like me, you may want to wait on buying but if you are a Canon shooter, feel free to buy away!

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista, travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WPPI 2010 Review

Thanks to all of those Lovecats that made it out to our mixer on Sunday, it was great to meet you guys!! I hope that you were able to meet other people that you will keep in touch with for many years to come! Did you take any pics? If so, email them to us - we'd love to share them!

Now that you're home, caught up on sleep and can think straight... what were your thoughts about WPPI 2010??

Favorite presentation?
Favorite thing at the trade show?
Favorite restaurants?
Favorite parties?
Who did you meet that surprised you?
Any other thoughts??

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista, travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Survival Tips for WPPI

In past years, Anne has shared some really excellent posts about how to survive WPPI. This year, I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned too!

First, repeat this to yourself over an over again: "You can not possibly do it ALL."

Now that we've got that out of the way, here is the rest!

General:
- Bring your most comfortable walking shoes. The MGM is *huge*.
- Bring another pair of shoes in case you you need to switch them up.
- You'll be indoors most of the time, and they keep the temperature pretty even in most places, so if you're cold natured, bring a sweater or something easy to carry around to put on when you need it.
- Bring a lot of business cards to swap with people you meet.
- Notebooks, pens, ready to take notes.
- If you can't afford a full registration, there is a LOT to be learned on the tradeshow floor. Different booths have speakers presenting all the time.
- Go to the grocery store, or even hit up the Walgreens down the strip from the MGM, for snacks to keep in your room.
- MGM has more room specials in effect - keep an eye on Twitter for people posting room specials.
- Heavy iPhone user? Bring your charger with you during the day. Your phone won't hold a charge long enough with you texting your friends about meeting up with them. (Mine never does, and I have all the battery saving features turned on.)
- Wondering what to wear? Dress ranges from business-like clothes to jeans to whatever. It is a conference with your peers, so wear what makes you comfortable in that situation.
- If you're tired, go to your room and take a nap. It is ok. You'll miss something, but you'll be more receptive to learn more later.

Platforms / Business Institute / Plus Classes / Master Classes:
- Sometimes the descriptions are exactly what they are covering, and sometimes they aren't as accurate. Ask other people if they have heard people speak, they might be able to give you tips on who to check out.
- If you have a hard time deciding between two panels/platforms, sit near the door and if you don't like the one you chose, slip out and go to another one. You won't be the only person to do it.
- My first year in business and first year at WPPI, the Business Institute was the best money I spent. I learned SO much, and met several great friends there too.
- If there is a speaker you just *have* to see, be sure to get there extra early to get a seat. Lots of platforms closed last year when the room was full.

Tradeshow:
- I always bring a tote bag to carry around the tradeshow and put all my goodies into. Some booths will also have totes to pass out in case you need another one.
- I always pick one thing I want to be intentional in researching at the tradeshow. My first year it was getting hands on albums. Last year I was on a mission to find the canvas prints I love the most. This is a great chance to see products in person without having to order samples later. I ask if I can take photos with my iPhone so I remember what I liked. (Include a company sign so you remember where to get things!)
- There will be a LOT of tradeshow specials. B&H normally has a gear sale. Album companies offer specials. There is something at almost every booth. Set a budget before you walk in and stick to it!
- I try to bring a sack lunch to the tradeshow, or snack food, so I don't have to walk over to the food court area or stand in the long food lines (with limited options) in the convention center.

Parties:
- You might want to bring a few "party" outfits if you want to dress up for the evening social events.
- There will be multiple parties every night. [b] school. Pictage. Finao. Airhorns & Lasers. David Jay. The list goes on and on. Lots more will be announced as the date gets closer.
- Meet new people. Step out of the usual.


My BIGGEST tip - again:
You can not possibly do it ALL. It is impossible. There will always be a conflict. Another speaker at the same time, another class, another dinner, another party. You just have to chose which one you want to do the most. It is ok. (This is really hard for me.)

Can't wait to see you all in Vegas for WPPI 2010!

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

Monday, March 1, 2010

RSVP for WPPI Happy Hour!

Only a third of the tickets we can give away are left at this point, so get yours before we have to start turning people away because we've reached maximum capacity!! Tickets are free and open to the public, but only those who have RSVP'd will get info about where the Happy Hour takes place! Also, be sure to check out Corey Anne's tips on Cheap Eats in Vegas so you can save yourself some cash! If you've never been to the desert before, I have some tips about how to stay comfortable, and if this is your first WPPI, check out the tips on How to Plan for a Great Convention Experience!

And don't forget to RSVP!!
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