August 22, 2016

Marketing Is More Than Just A Wing & A Prayer (PODCAST)

marketing tips small business podcastWhile many of us enjoy the creative part of marketing our business, it still tends to be the thing that falls through the cracks when we’re busy.  Or we choose to rely on ‘organic growth’ via word of mouth marketing and not put too much energy or thought into it.  In this podcast, Caylena Cahill shares her thoughts on why that’s not good enough and ways in which food entrepreneurs can step up their marketing game.


Jennifer: Today we’re talking with Caylena Cahill, the owner and founder of CC Photo and Media. She’s passionate about helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop stand out personal brands and in helping them their businesses to the next level. Her background in photojournalism gives her a special ability to find the unique, promote-able elements of a small business and turn them into compelling photos that help her clients connect more effectively with their prospects in fans. We’re going to talk a bit about today.


Caylena is based in the greater New York area. Her personal photography work has been exhibited throughout New York and in France, and her professional photography has been featured in publications such as Newsday Westchester, Times Herald Record, Washington Business Journal, and Fuse Magazine, to name just a few.


She’s currently a member of the American Society of Media Photographers, and she regularly attends professional photography conferences and business development seminars to keep up on her game and offer the best possible value she can to the small businesses she works with.


Caylena, thank you so much for joining us today.


Caylena: Yeah, thank you for having me.


Jennifer: As we get started, I want to just be very clear up front. You and I have talked before, obviously, and I’ve read a bit of work. You’re a big proponent that small business, no matter what their size, whether thy have a small staff, whether their solopreneur, need to actually do marketing.


Mind telling us a little bit about that? Why can’t they just reply on, kind of the organic growth that everybody hopes that they are going to have?


Caylena: Yes, so that’s a great question. It’s something that I’ve written about before and the first thing I want to say about that is that I wish that small businesses and solopreneurs would stop thinking of themselves of small. I think that’s part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that organic growth is kind of a myth. I like to say, why do you think that organic growth is something that you want, and what does organic growth mean? What is it? Does it mean that you just go about your business, like you do your projects or you make your food or you start up your restaurant, and then people just come? That’s not really how it works.


Jennifer: But that’s what everyone hopes will happen.


Caylena: What? Yeah. That’s what you hope will happen, but that’s not really how it works these days. Part of that is because the market is so over saturated. The other part of that has to do with the fact that people are more likely to remember and share negative experiences than positive ones.


This is a scientific concept that is studied and it’s why there’s so many negative reviews and not as many positive reviews online. It’s part of how we are as people.


With those things combined, it just, it doesn’t make any sense to not even consider doing marketing. There’s a lot of people that kind of think, oh well marketing is a scan or, oh it makes me look sleazy or, oh you know I’m just annoying people. There’s all these things that get in the way for doing marketing. But basically, if you think about it, and you look up the actual definition of organic growth, basically it has nothing to do with not doing marketing, it’s basically the difference between growing your company by doing the things that your company does versus growing your company by acquiring and merging with other companies.


Jennifer: Interesting.


Caylena: So, that definition doesn’t say anything about not doing marketing.


Jennifer: Yep.


Caylena: That says you, do what you do and you tell people about it so that they come and basically the marketing piece is the telling people that you do it. I mean there’s a lot more to it but that’s the basic idea.


Jennifer: So what do you think small businesses need to actually be doing, then? Of course I know that this means that this is going to differ from every type of… whether they’re a food truck, whether they’re a farmers market vendor, whether they’re a cottage food operator or restaurant. You know in terms of what they strategically do, but, how does a small business owner go about starting to think about, okay so I need to do marketing. What’s that first piece that they need to be doing?


Caylena: The first piece is really understanding the customers.


Jennifer: Okay.


Caylena: Because you’re going to tailor… This is what large companies do but they have multiple markets that they target. So, I like to take my inspiration and make use from large companies that are successful and then tailor that down to a more targeted approach with small businesses.


The first step is really understanding the customers. When you ask a lot of restaurants, who is your target market. They just think everybody is their target market. Well that’s the problem. You can’t market to everybody. When you’re on a small budget or more budget, it just doesn’t work. You have to decide who are you going to work with. Who is right for what you’re offering. First step is understanding who is really going to connect with your business.








I’m being really honest about that because then you need to go in really deep with that. That’s how everything really starts, and it’s kind of that combination between knowing your customers and getting really deep and comfortable with your brand identity and your desired customer experiences. So that’s kind of where is starts. Then of course, your goals. Where are you going to take your business and how do you want it to grow . So that’s kind of like foundation.


Then the next step is to really research your customers, know where they like to hang out particularity and metaphorically. What they read, what they do, what their hobbies are, all that kind of stuff because that’s how you can start to understand how and where to connect with them. That’s basically what your marketing tactics are aiming to do. You need to understand their decision making process with regards to your type of company and the products and services that you offer, and then that way you can kind of target people throughout different parts of their decision making processes.


It’s a really… like the foundation of how to get your business to the next level.


Jennifer: Well, I was going to ask, everything that you said, it makes great sense. Yes of course, if we better understand both our own goals as small businesses and what our brand identity is but also what our customers need, then the kind of how do we make this perfect marriage between the two. Is there, this might actually end up being it’s whole other own Podcast, but how does one do that deep dive on their customers and figure out who they are? When you might be the only person we know doing the marketing in your business along with the accounting and the cooking and every other piece of it, and you don’t have a big pot of money that you can turn over to a research firm.


Caylena: Well, you can do simple things like talk to the people that walk through your door.


Jennifer: Thank you. That’s a great example.


Caylena: You can… if you already do have, say and email database, you can create a free survey on Survey Monkey. It’s a basic idea, I mean you want to meet people where they are.


Jennifer: Yep.


Caylena: It’s kind of a combination between where you want to be and what’s authentic to you, but always what’s authentic to your customers because ultimately, if you’re on Facebook because it’s authentic to you but your customers are not on Facebook, then you’re waiting your time.


Jennifer: Yeah. Because that’s time you can be putting somewhere else.


Caylena: Right.


Jennifer: So, let’s talk about this money piece of it.


What about marketing budget? Do you think it’s possible for small, few businesses for food start ups to effectively do marketing? If so, what type of budget do they need to have dedicated to that effort?


The question I hear a lot is, can I do effective marketing without putting any money into it?


Caylena: The short answer is, yes and no.


I mean, there’s no simple answer here, honestly. Like, if people are listening to this and they just want to hear that yes they can do marketing effectively and not put anything into it, then they’re listening to the wrong Podcast. To be perfectly frank.


Do I think that small business and entrepreneurs and solo, one person companies can do effective marketing? Yes. I think they can do effective marketing. Can they do it for free? Probably not. I’m going to use a liberal definition of free, to mean not putting anything out. I don’t mean just money, I mean energy, time, money, thought. Anything. You’re going to get what you put into it, basically. You have to put out some kind of value for people to latch onto, and then that will turn itself into sales for you down the line.


Whether that’s money spent, time spent, energy, I mean it just depends on what your resources are and how you seek to use them effectively. Ideally, you would have some financial resources to put behind it, but basically, the guiding principles that I like are spend as much as you can afford and then maximize the dollars that you spend. So spend the least amount of money to get the maximum results for that money, but spend as much money as you can.


Jennifer: As you were talking about the liberal definition of resources… As you were talking about it, the thing that popped into my mind was, yeah I’ve seen what I consider to be very effective… as an example, Instagram campaigns that are run by small business, I can’t tell you whether they translated sales because I don’t know those business, but I’ve seen very impactful, they’ve caught my eye, they’ve caught my attention. But you’re right, it may not have cost them money, per say to put that together, but it definitely took them time and strategic thinking to figure out how were they going to bring all these images together into one cohesive campaign and engage people and keep them interested.


So you’re right. It’s not just… while money is a piece of it, totally, or can be in certain aspect of marketing… I like that idea of, you know it really also, it’s the other pieces that go into and if you don’t put the thought and the time into it, you’re going to get the same thing out of it.


I do want to switch gears slightly a little bit, tough, and touch on… we talked about this in your bio, your huge area of expertise is also in photography, which melds very nicely with marketing these days. It seems to be, especially with the popularity, we’ve been talking about Instagram a little bit, just social media in general, that pictures have really taken center stage when it comes to marketing these days.


Can you talk about what you’re seeing from a food photography standpoint?


Caylena: Yes. They definitely have. I mean, I think pictures have always, not always, but at least for a while have been center stage in marketing. When you think about looking at a magazine, there’s always big photos for ads and things like that. It’s because photos connect instantly, you don’t have to sit there and read a bunch of texts. You can look at it and understand intuitively what it’s saying to you. Then with social media, especially things like Instagram and even on Facebook, they’re getting increasing preference to the photo-based posts.


[00:12:20] But, what am I seeing from food photography? What I’m seeing is, pretty much the . I mean, everything from the casual social media user, that is not a business owner taking photos of their food and posting it online, to high end, huge companies hiring photographers to do Instagram take overs or to do specific photos for campaign for whatever their product is just for social media, and paying thousands of dollars. So basically, that also means that there is a ranging quality.


Jennifer: You can kind of lead perfectly on my expression which is, so if somebody is a small business and hopefully now is going to actually start potentially putting money into marketing, but they don’t necessarily have a budget to be spending thousands for somebody to come in and photograph their products to do all their social media.


Do you have any simple tips? If that person is a terrible photographer, I might be talking about myself here as well… Do u have any tips on what somebody can do to make their photos look better? Because we’ve all seen these, just awesome food photographs that somebody took out of their home kitchen and then we’ve also seen the home kitchen photos where the lighting is really bad, whatever there it is that’s on the plate just looks so unappetizing.


How do you make your photos look a little bit better without putting on a full light show and everything else? Are there any easy tips that people can start to work on?


Caylena: Basically, my first recommendation is to put done your iPhone and get a real camera. I don’t mean a point and shoot. I mean get some kind of camera that allows you to change your lens and adjust your settings in manual mode. It might sound overwhelming or be annoying because, oh I have to pay money to buy the camera and blah blah blah. But honestly, that’s going to be the best thing that you can do to take your photos to the next level. Why? Because it forces you to learn the basics of photography, which you don’t get when you’re using your cellphone.


I can tell you, you know, oh move the dish next to the window and position it so that the window is on the side or the back and put up some filters. I can tell you those things but that’s only going to help you so much. What you really need to do is learn the basics of photography.


So just like marketing is a skill that you can learn, so is photography. But you have to have your expectations that like, this might take a little bit of effort to get this working.




Its seems like this is the theme that keeps coming up in today’s Podcast, which is effort aiming.


Caylena: So, first step, get a real camera. It doesn’t have to be a professional one, but a basic digital SLR with maybe one or two different lens options, like a macro lens if you’re going to be doing food photography, you definitely want it. And then maybe like a general zoom lens, and then a tripod. That’s going to be your first initial basics to start on your photography journey.


And then, invest some time and effort and potentially money into actually learning, what is the shutter speed and aperture and what is depth of field and how does all this stuff relate and how do I make what I see in my head, what comes out on the camera.


Jennifer: Yeah.


Caylena: Or, you could save a couple thousand dollars and pay a photographer to do it for you.





Well, which one like… At what point do small food businesses look to hire photographers? To be totally out front because I know I’m a terrible photographer, I’ve always hired profession photographers at least to take kind of my basic portfolio, my not for social media stuff, but for the photos that are going to go in the marketing brochures, the photos that are going to go in the sales sheets that I send off to retailers, the photos that go into print advertising. I’ve always hired a photographer for that but that’s because I know my strengths and weaknesses and photography is a definite weakness.


Do you have any recommendations on, both I guess kind of a what point or for what types of projects do small businesses look to hire photographers? And then also, do you have any advice on how they can most effectively work with photographers to get that kind of bank for the buck that you were talking about?


Caylena: Right, so the first thing I want to say is, I don’t understand this mentality at all of why social media is on a different level than your brochures and your website. I just fundamentally don’t understand why social media is an excuse for poor quality.





I think it comes down to not that social media is an excuse for poor quality, but that as a small business, the reality is that the budget is limited. You know, I could go into a photographer once or twice and year with a portfolio for and say okay we’re going to shoot all of these… they help me set them up, style them… I use those is social media as well, but in order to do kind of the one off, hey look what we’re working on in the kitchen type photo, I couldn’t afford to hire a photographer to come in to take that like, hey we’re in the kitchen on a Wednesday look what we’re doing. The quote behind the scenes types of pictures that you see.


So it was, at least for me, making a… saying okay I’ll try to make it look as good as possible and I’m totally guilty of using my iPhone to do that for the social media shots. Making that decision of where can I put money into photography and where can’t I.


Caylena: I mean, that makes and sense and I’m not saying to never use your phone and never post a photo that wasn’t professionally done, but it’s just a thought to consider. Why am I letting myself not hold myself to the same standards, here?


To find a way basically to be creative in getting those type of behind the scene shots, maybe you do an entire day of just behind the scenes pictures.


It’s great that you use the professional photos on social media, too. Like, that’s great. It’s kind of like thinking about it in a more strategic way rather than waiting til the last minute to do it.


Jennifer: I get what you’re saying, too.




There also then raises the question of what, sort of brand identity are you putting out there? If you got almost the Dr… what is it Dr. Heckle…


Caylena: I know what you’re talking about.


Jennifer: If you have two that are so diverse, what’s the actual message that’s coming across to the end consumer? If you have these beautiful stylize photos and then, a least in my world, these absolutely terrible photos that are taken with your iPhone.


Caylena: I mean, I guess that’s my point, to think about what is the effect of posting this. Maybe we should consider quality over quantity. Instead of thinking that you have to post it just because you have to and because you need to get a quota of a number of posts out per day, blah blah blah. I think that’s the wrong mentality to have.


I kind of bought off from your original question which was, how to know when and what types of products to work with with a professional photographer on, and then how to get the most out of it.







So, ideally, you would budget for this as part of your start up costs. Ideally, when you’re in your pre-launch stage, you’re thinking about photos, and you’re thinking about, okay when I’m making my website I’m going to need to have photos, so I may as well just do it once and get professional photos and then I have them. I mean like, at the very least shots, or your basic menu and your location shot. You know, like, why bother making a website and putting a bad photo on it? Ideally, at the very beginning you’re thinking about it.


And then, say you’re a little bit more established already and, if you’re looking to re-brand and doing new photos if you change the labels on your products, or if you want to do a new add campaign… If you are developing new marketing materials, not necessarily re-branding but maybe you develop recipes for your particular product and you want to have some recipe promos to put in an E-book or brochure or something like that. Maybe it’s not a complete re-brand, but it’s just a new project that you only have product photos so you need to get some new food photos to help tell the story.


Jennifer: Do you have any advice in terms of how somebody who may not have ever worked with a professional photographer… just either anything they need to know before they go into this equation, anything they can do to prepare, to make the whole scenario easier. Make sure that the photographer understands what they’re hoping to get out of the session?


Caylena: Yeah, so, the first thing is, plan to invest anywhere from five hundred to three or four thousand dollars. That’s the first thing, is understanding the price point for professional photography.


The second is, educating yourself on photography visually speaking, as it relates to your brand message. Thinking about what your brand is and what your vision and what your goals are. Some photographers will just come in and take whatever you want them to take and they’ll do whatever they want to do and then they’ll call it a day. But for me, I like to really understand my clients and I take that to a deeper level … I like to call them strategic assents. We don’t just make a photo to make it, we make a photo that is for a purpose. That purpose is to really connect with our clients and your customers and your prospects in a unique way that is authentic to only you. That takes really understanding your brand and your story and your background and your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish and who your customers are, in order to do that.






That translates visually into the mood of the picture, the content, the angle, all the techniques of photography, basically. But visually speaking, this style of the images. So you can either work with somebody that can adapt their style or you can work with somebody who style matches your vision , that you see on the website.


So, look at their portfolio, look at testimonials if there are any, and things like that. You… basically… Ask as many questions, and if they’re not willing to answer questions, they’re probably not the right person to work with.


Jennifer: Based off of what I’m hearing you say is, not only put thought and acceptance into the fact that there will be a cost associated with hiring a photographer, but also put some thought into what you plan to do with these photos and not just in the immediate short term. If you’re going to spend the money to have these photos taken, how might you anticipate using them in the next year, eighteen months, two years? It doesn’t mean that you have to use them that way but at least to have some ideas about it so that you can go in and maximize your time and share that information with the photographer.


Caylena: Exactly. If you’re going to spend the money, like you said… If you’re going to spend the money, why are you going to go in without a purpose?


Jennifer: Being wise about the money that you’re going to spend and just using that time most effectively.


Caylena: Basically, spend as much as you can afford to spend. Then maximize what you spent.


Jennifer: I like that you summed that up perfectly.


Well, Caylena talking about time, I do appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for sharing with us some of your thought about, both marketing and the photography aspect of it, the visual aspect of it.


As a reminder, Caylena is the owner and founder of CC Photo and Media. We’ll have a link to her website up on the small food business website.


So again, Caylena, thank you so much. Really appreciate all your time.


Caylena: Likewise. Thanks for having me, it’s great to chat with you and I always love talking about marketing and photography, so.


Jennifer: Well, anybody can give me any hands on photography, especially. I love it.


Great, thank you.


Caylena: Thank you.


Related Articles: