3 Ways to Avoid No Man’s Brand

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No matter how amazing you are in your business, you cannot be everything to everyone. If you are still trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, it’s time to give up the gig! Not only is this approach exhausting, but it can actually be counterproductive. When you’re not focused on offering specialized services or products, your ideal client can easily become frustrated because they’re unclear on exactly what you do—and a confused mind never buys.

Your message becomes diluted and generic. 

I want you to ask yourself this hard question: Is your brand unspecific? Generalized? Bland?

If you just swallowed that hard pill and the answer is yes, I’m here to help.

When you narrow your focus to a certain specialization, you position yourself as an influencer in your industry. This is essential when you hope to stand out among the crowd, especially if you are in a saturated market. Instead of offering a junk drawer of services or products, find your specialized place in the market and share that message with confidence! 

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I get that it can be scary to niche down. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities, and you wonder if you'll be able to find an audience large enough to fill your client list. But when you try to appeal to everyone, you're really connecting with no one. Business owners who rise to the top and are recognized as experts in their industry are those who specialize

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you niching down is an important step in growing your biz, how do you choose what to specialize in? It's not as hard as it may seem!

Here are my three simple steps to specialization. They've helped many of my clients narrow their focus and choose their niche once and for all.

  1. Do an internal audit. Take some time to really think about these questions and be honest with yourself:

What am I known for in my industry?

What do people come to me for help with?

What do I love to do and feel I am good at?

What are my skill sets and strengths?

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2. Talk to those you trust. Talk with family and friends, colleagues, people you network with, and even clients.  Ask them: 

What would you say I'm known for?  

What kind of questions am I able to help you with? 

What strengths do you see in me?

Why did you hire me in the first place?

*This second step is critical because it can bring insight beyond what you see on your own.

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3. Own your message. Now for the really hard question…does the description of you above line up with the image you are projecting in your branding and services? If not, it’s time to tweak your message to align with how people see you. 

    Is your elevator pitch clear on what you do best?

    Does your bio offer a strong description of your expertise?

    Do your brand images communicate leadership in your niche?
 

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When you can get clear on these three steps, your brand will tell a powerful, specific story making you memorable and distinctive. No longer will you be stuck in no man’s brand, but instead you'll be looked at as the go-to expert in your defined niche.

Need help with your brand story and area of expertise? Let’s schedule a time to chat : bit.ly/chatwithmiki

New Year, New Goals

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Ah...January. A fresh start. A clean slate.

I love the the promise and possibility the new year brings to our personal lives and to our businesses.

Have you been setting goals or resolutions for 2018? Have you created a vision board or selected your word of the year?

If so, you’ve already completed the first, important step in achieving your goals—writing them down. It may seem simple, but declaring your intentions and putting them out there can be one of the most powerful steps you take in reaching your 2018 goals.

I work with ambitious movers and shakers who have set some big, juicy goals for the coming year. Some of their aspirations include:

Launching courses
Publishing a book
Speaking on a large stage at a conference
Increasing their prices
Promoting their business on a podcast
Selling out a conference in days

Crazy, massive goals like these can be scary. Sure, they are fun to dream about, but when it comes time to dig in and do the work, it can feel like staring up at Mt. Everest. We quickly become overwhelmed and eventually give up. Our goals are never met because we did not have a solid plan in place.

So where to start? Here are my three tips to get you working toward those big dreams:

1) Make Time. When you set goals, the time to work on them unfortunately doesn’t magically appear on your calendar. To achieve all you hope to in 2018, you may have to get creative with your scheduling. It’s important to block off chunks of time to spend strategically planning how your goals can be met. It’s equally important, after the planning stage, to consistently set aside time for the actual implementation of your goals. Create these new “appointments” in your schedule and treat them like any other appointment that must be kept. 

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2) Get Help. Here’s the honest truth: you can’t do everything your business needs to succeed on your own. Delegating certain responsibilities to someone who is an expert can be the catalyst that launches your business forward this year. Sure, delegation can be intimidating for a small business owner. Allowing others to play a part in your business can initially be nerve-wracking, but let me tell you, it’s worth it. I just hired a systems specialist to help me streamline and automate my on-boarding process. It's taken me years to get to this point, and my only regret is that didn’t do it sooner!

As the new year begins, take a hard look at what you need to get done and see if you can hire someone to assist you in that area. If finances are limiting your ability to outsource, get creative. Barter services, ask for a payment plan, or tighten up your budget in other areas—find some sort of solution to get the help you need.
 

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3) Be Brand Ready. There’s nothing worse than getting an invitation to speak at a conference and having to scramble to prepare a bio or send a photo. If your dreams for 2018 include more visibility for your brand, getting those tools updated and ready to go at a moment’s notice is essential. Your brand photos, your speaker sheet, your bio, your website—everything should be up-to-date, consistent and cohesive. You never know what opportunities will come your way when you are prepared! 

Recently, one of my clients was invited to be featured in women's entrepreneurial magazine along with 4 other lady bosses. My client sent a folder full of brand images with her information to the publication. Guess who's face showed up not just in the small bio blurb but throughout the article? Yup, my client! She made it easy for the magazine to feature HER because she provided the beautiful photos herself!

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I am right there with you in the goal trenches this year—I have big dreams for myself and my brand, too! With courage, hard work, support from others, and organization—this year can be our best year yet. Together, let's make those vision boards a reality in 2018!

If I can help you create a stand-out brand, one that will help you secure those big-press features, book deals, or sold-out events, let's chat! 
 

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5 Photo Content Ideas for the Entrepreneur | NJ Brand Photographer

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"I don't know what to post."

This is the comment I hear most with my clients and with my audience. It's a struggle to figure out what stories to share and what photos to take and post. Sometimes you feel like you are posting the same thing over and over. Sometimes you feel like you are posting random stuff, just to post. Nothing feels newsworthy or aligned with your brand.

Here are 5 photo content ideas to get you excited to start sharing your story. These themes will inspire your audience and take them on the business journey with you!

1) Your To-Do List. It's true that everybody likes to know everybody's business so share what you have going on with a quick click of your latest and greatest to-do list.

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2) Your Workspace. Pull the curtain back and share your desk or office. Show your audience where the magic happens!

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3) Your Client Interaction. Share a teaser of how it looks and feels to work with you. 

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4) Your Tribe. Introduce your peeps, your community, your tribe to your audience. Show them how you are a PART of something bigger and that you value connecdtion. 

5) Your Self Care Ritual. All work and no play - no way! Inspire your audience with how you relax, recharge and renew. Let them connect with you on a personal level. 

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There are an endless number of stories to share with your audience but I hope these five inspire your creativity. All of these themes can be captured DIY style with your iPhone or camera. And if you do have a professional brand photo shoot coming up, add these ideas to your shot list (more prep work and ideas can be found in my book The Brand Photography Playbook).

Just get started sharing your brand story through visuals in all your marketing from social media, newsletters, sales pages, website. Let your photos speak volumes about what you do, how you do it and how you are different!

Need more help? Let's connect at mallika@mikifoto.com

New Client Work : Supplematix | NJ Brand Photographer

It's always exciting to work on new photography projects. Once in awhile I will do something different and not my usual subject of women in business. Recently, I did some product photography for a new health and wellness company called Supplematix. This new brand is disrupting the supplements industry with the launch of two physician formulated products called Laser and Lightening. The Laser product aids in focus while the Lightening product boosts energy.  Both are made with superior, natural and Ayurvedic sources at the best value possible. Easily and readily available online, delivered to your home and can even be purchased as an ongoing subscription.  

My goal was to capture the lifestyle connected to the supplement products. I chose props and locations that would support the product story and the end benefits of health and wellness. It was lots of fun being creative and strategic for a different type of subject matter. Plus, the physician who formulated and researched these supplements is my very own hubby - Dr. Sunil Malhotra. He is the Chief Scientific Officer. How cool is that! Not only is he a surgeon but now also an entrepreneur. 

Take a look at some of the images we created to launch the new Supplematix product line. And if you are interested, they are now offering 15% off your first order. I think both entrepreneurs and busy moms can definitely use these supplements in our hectic lives. I have tried both products and can share that they worked for me! 

Brand Photos for a Business and Life Coach | NJ Brand Photographer

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My dear friend and client, Kanani Briggs just launched her new coaching business, Kanani Briggs Coaching and Events. I am so excited for her! She is an excellent business and life coach helping women reach financial success and lead the life that they always wanted and dreamed of. She works with women looking to start a new business as well as women entrepreneurs who are ready to uplevel their current business. She offers programs in branding, pricing, money mastery, finding your niche and more. 

With the launch of her business, she also revealed a new website with new brand photos. We worked together from strategy to creative direction to the actual photo shoot. We created a brand photo library of images that she can use for all her marketing needs. 

On her website, all of her images worked beautifully with the copy from the home page to the contact me page. You immediately get a sense of her professionalism as a coach and her vibrant personality. You understand her powerful message and her diverse range of offerings. Take a look :

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The visuals also tell a story of what it would feel like to work with her - empowered, positive and fun. You can feel her confidence and you want to be part of her tribe.  She projects a lifestyle that her audience craves, yet also positions herself as approachable. I think Kanani's vibe is a strong example of aspirational yet authentic. 

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Kanani's new website does a great job in positioning her as an expert. The visual stories build a connection with her audience and boost her know, like and trust factor. In today's crowded online space, it's important to have a website, brand photos and copy that work well together to breakthrough to your ideal customer. Your visuals are more than pretty pictures but photo stories that engage, inspire and connect with your clients.

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If you are looking for a coach to help you with business and life, consider Kanani Briggs. She is passionate about helping others and can help you create a flexible business that allows you to thrive in all areas of your life.

And if you are looking to invest and inquire about your own brand photos, consider purchasing my new book, The Brand Photography Playbook: The Insider's Guide to Planning Your Photo Shoot and Building a Stand-Out Brand. It's a comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs, answering all their questions about brand photography and walking you through how to plan a successful photo shoot. Plus it includes storytelling photography of real women with real businesses that will both inspire and illustrate the power of visual storytelling.  http://bit.ly/buybrandphotographyplaybook

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Book Launch Party | NJ Brand Photographer

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Books + Bubbly is happening this Friday, September 15th in Millburn, NJ (304 Millburn Ave). You are invited to join us and I am super excited to be sharing my new book, The Brand Photography Playbook: The Insider's Guide to Planning Your Photo Shoot and Building a Stand-Out Brand. A comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs, answering all their questions about brand photography and walking you through how to plan a successful photo shoot. It also includes storytelling photography that will inspire you and illustrate the power of visual storytelling. 

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Planning a book signing party is no joke. It takes a village, especially if you want to do something fun, unique and interactive. Lucky for me, I have a dream team of collaborators. When I shared on social media and by email asking for help to throw a #mikibash, these boss ladies did not hesitate and jumped right in to help at this book launch event. I am so grateful to these women and their support. They are all NJ local business owners who share a passion for entrepreneurship and community. I am so proud to call them my friends and to introduce them to you:

Lori Csik of Dressed by Lori

The perfect venue for the book launch party. Books, bubbly and boutique. Lori Csik opened Dressed by Lori after a 30 plus year career in fashion and the retail industry. Over the years, Lori has developed a strong sense of what women are looking to achieve with fashion and how she can help them bring out the best version of themselves. Dressed by Lori is a fresh chic venue to shop for contemporary and whimsical, yet classic and feminine day to play dresses, designed for the dynamic lives of modern women. Lori has an eye for styles and fits that promise to compliment varying body types and a craving for designers creating American made products. She believes a dress can take a women from “day to play” giving her clients the flexibility they need to lead a busy life, but look and feel amazing while doing it!

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Kelly Desario of ReelStyle Beauty

Ladies of the Lip Lounge! At the book event, Kelly and her team will be offering a fun lipstick application so you can pucker up and be lip ready. ReelStyle Beauty was was created as a Brand that could "Reely" evolve & expand over time. We say #getREELSTYLED , servicing hundreds of Brides a year, countless photoshoots, Campaigns Ads, Bridal Blogs, Women Entrepreneur Branding, NY & Miami Fashion Week & more. The ReelStyle Essentials Collection & Our Pocket Stylist Consulting has blossomed & is going to be fully launched in 2018. 

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Erika Guzman of Adorn Market 

What's a party without a selfie booth? Erika is a creative superstar and creating a selfie booth for the event. She is a designer & hand-lettering artist; a creative soul, inspired by abstract art, texture, poetry, nature, photography and vintage home decor. With a degree in Merchandising and Design, her biz - Adorn Market launched in January earlier this year. Erika creates inspirational wood signs with rustic style for clients to adorn their home. Each piece of wood she chooses is carefully hand-picked, cut, stained and painted with love in her art studio. Her hand lettered art is amazing and inspiring. And she is just the kindest, sweetest person I know! Follow her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/adorn_market for ideas for the home, special events and gifts.

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Jen McHenry of Cabi and Direct Cellars 

What's a party without cocktails? My biz bestie Jen is both a fashionista and wine lover. Before becoming a stylist she had corporate job in NYC which required long hours and with twins on the way she knew she needed something where she could put her family first myself. The supportive network of smart and driven woman at cabi (a fashion company reinventing the way women shop) made her decision easy…not to mention the great clothes and the companies focus on supporting woman on a global basis. It really was too good to be true : a company created by woman for woman! cabi allows Jen to be in business for herself, but not by herself…The perfect fit!

She loves the social side of this business while offering private styling appointments and group Fashion Experiences and what better way to be social then pouring a fabulous bottle of wine while ladies are playing dress up! Enter Direct Cellars wine club which offered the perfect blend of connecting over beautiful clothes AND great wine….I hate trying on fabulous clothes and drinking premium wine said no woman ever!

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Anne Davis of The Danish Baking Girl 

Made with love. Anne is originally from Denmark and has fond memories of her mom’s baking, the house filling with the most amazing and comforting smells. Baking has always been a part of her life. She carries those traditions as the inspiration for her business. Everything she bakes has a personal story behind it, from cookies to breads to pastries.

Lucky for us, Anne is sharing her Danish baking at the Books + Bubbly event. She will be bringing Stenalderbrød, a bread that has become very popular in Denmark with the introduction of the Paleo Diet. The Danish name, Stenalderbrød or Stone Age Bread, comes from the concept of eating like people did thousands of years ago when nothing was processed. It contains no flour, leavening, dairy or eggs.

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Elizabeth Girouard of Zing Meals 

Delicious eats. My friend Elizabeth Girouard, a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Workplace Wellness Master Ambassador, Educator and fellow entrepreneur. She is the Founder of Pure Simple Wellness, a holistic health coaching and training service and Co-Founder of Zing Meals, a local, gourmet healthy meal delivery service providing healthy, fully prepared meals that taste great and fuel the body. 

Elizabeth will be providing a sampling of their yummy creations including Chef Vaughn’s famous mayo-free chicken salad (gluten-free and dairy-free options will also be available). Make sure to check out what’s on the delivery menu from Zing Meals for next Tuesday on their website: www.zingmeals.com/menu and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/zingmeals.

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Jeri Freeman and Lauren Ohs of Stacks and Snacks

Bite sized yum. Dynamic duo, Jeri and Lauren will be sharing their tasty, handcrafted bite-sized desserts. These treats come in more than a dozen unique flavors. They start with a base made from scratch (brownies, blondies, sugar cookies, oatmeal and more), then layer creamy chocolate and a crushed topping to create a petite mouthwatering treat. 

Stacks are available as catered trays or 2-pack favors for special events. They can customize colors, flavors or packaging and work with you or your organization to provide a sweet ending to any occasion. I am thrilled to be partnering with them at my book party event. Get ready for some YUM.

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And then to add more fun to the party, we have some exciting door prizes from some of my favorite boss babes : 

Beauty Counter by Maggie Zakhary 

Swapna Patel of Stella & Dot 

Birch House Candles

Julia Lovallo Creative Marketing 

Special thanks to Parker Petals for floral arrangements and Maria from In the Moment Photography for coming to capture the event. So many amazing women collaborating together! I am counting the days until the #mikibash on Friday, Sept 15th at Dressed by Lori in Millburn, NJ (304 Millburn Ave). Hope you will join us.

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If you are not local and are curious to learn more about The Brand Photography Playbook, find out more HERE. I would love for you to check out the book - it comes in both print and digital. 

 

Visibility for Business | NJ Brand Photographer

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DOES THIS SCENARIO SOUND ALL TO FAMILIAR? 

You’re an online business owner who wants to make an impact, but your visibility strategy is falling flat. 

You’re putting yourself out there because you have skills and a message to share with the world, but all you’re hearing are crickets. 

You want to be an influencer and have people KNOW YOUR NAME, but you’re stuck trying to figure out what’s the best way to go so that you can scale up, position yourself as an industry expert, leader, and authority figure. 

You dream about the day when YOU are considered a “celebrity” in the online space and that the impact you’re having on the lives of others is truly making a difference.

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We all have felt this frustration! And I am hear to tell you that if you’re NOT visible, you don’t exist. In today's noisy world, you have to put yourself out there to get noticed. As a photographer, I am passionate about helping women in business finally become the face of their brand. I truly believe that in order to connect with your audience and create relationships with clients, you first have to share your story and be visible in your marketing. People want to SEE you and learn about the heart of your business, much more then the details of your fancy program or products and services. 

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WANT TO BE INFLUENTIAL BUT AREN’T SURE HOW? HERE'S MY TIP:

The Power of Brand Photography. There is power to visuals. There is power to storytelling. When we combine the two in our marketing, our brands can become energized and stand out from the rest. Visual storytelling can be the tipping point for your business, convincing your audience to choose you over the the rest. Especially in our world today, where attention spans are decreasing, brand photography can make an impactful first impression and inspire your audience into action. Creating a visual strategy and becoming the face of your brand has never been more important then now in the online world.

This is one strategy that can help you become more visible and boost your brand. But there are SO MANY other tips and tricks. I am excited to be part of the Influential Visibility series that kicks off September 18th. It’s a FREE event designed to help you become the INFLUENTIAL LEADER you desire to be. 

Join me + 11 other experts as we share our tried and true methods to getting insanely visible so that we can be impactful as part of the Influential Visibility series. This training series is FREE and kicks off September 18th. To reserve your spot NOW click this link: https://michaelahoffman.com/visibility-series

Hope to see you there! It's time so stop feeling invisible and finally move to making an impact with your story and your message.

5 DIY Photos to Boost Your Brand | NJ Brand Photographer

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Let's be honest. Brand photography is an investment in your business. It usually comes with a hefty price because it requires time and expertise. But it's worth it because of the huge benefits in boosting your brand and helping you stand out as a leader. I see it with every client. But it's a decision that takes time for you to make and to save towards. 

So what is a girl boss to do when you need visuals NOW? You need images to post on your Facebook, your Instagram and even in your monthly newsletter. Well, if you can't invest or barter in professional photography services, then there is the DIY route. I don't recommend this for everything but there are some photo stories that you can totally capture on your own with your smart phone for your brand library. Yes, it's true. Sometimes the best camera you have is the one you always have with you and that is your iPhone. 

Here is my DIY tip for capturing one of my top photo stories for your brand library:  YOUR VALUES.  These are the words, quotes and sayings that align with your message. You can photograph them without YOU even having to be in the photo. All you need is your smart phone. Yes, I said smart phone because sometimes the best camera is often the one you have with you at all times. So grab your iPhone or your camera and let's start snapping. 

1. Word art. Look on your walls, take a trip to Home Goods or go through magazines and you are bound to find art or design showcasing words. Find words that align with your brand and photograph it. Keep it in context - on your wall, or on your shelf or on your bulletin board. It helps the "realness" of the environment and builds a stronger connection to your brand. 

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2. Favorite Quote. Find your favorite sayings and write them out in a notebook or journal. Your handwriting will be personal, human and connective. Lay the notebook on your desk or bed or even on a wood floor. Maybe add a pen or some desk accessories and then click!

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3. Books. The titles of your favorite books will say so much about you and your brand. Choose the ones that support your message and your story. Stack them up on your desk and simply shoot.

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4. Tools. We all use tools that are specific to our trade and our expertise. Now is the time to gather them up. If you are a photographer, maybe it's lenses. If you are an interior designer, maybe it's swatches and paint chips. If you are a coach, maybe it's worksheets. If you are a personal chef, maybe it's measuring cups and cooking utensils. Think about the tools you use in your process and photograph them. 

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5. Laptop. Grab your computer and pull up your website, your Instagram feed, your blog, your newsletter on to the screen. This is an indirect way of selling your brand, your products and services without feeling too promotion-y. It's an easy way to reinforce your branding. 

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So there you have it! I want to empower you to feel confident about creating your own photo content from time to time. Think of these five stories when you feel photo-challenged. They are easy to create by yourself and can help share the story of your brand. Have any questions about DIY? Are you ready to invest in a professional brand photo session? I am here to help!