The photographer as the modern storyteller: Using narrative to engage customers

sadamcik    February 20, 2017

Toronto-based Lulu et Elle Photography specializes in stylized newborn imagery. Owner and principal photographer Lana Polashek is at the top of her game on account of her innovative and personalized approach to documenting the arrival of newborns. Her success lies in the ability to produce photography shaped by client-driven narratives and share the studio experience through social media.

“Being a newborn photographer allows me to document intense moments of vulnerability. The fragility of the baby, along with the vulnerable state of the parents, are all essential parts of the story. This is where my brand is – excuse the pun – born. Customer engagement starts at the most fundamental level – the photography session – and continues through my social media strategy.” Lana Polashek

Customer engagement can be understood as the psychological state emanating from a collaborative customer/brand experience. Engagement reflects a motivational state which occurs through an individual’s interactions with a particular product or service. Engagement differs from satisfaction, as the former is focused on consumers’ cognitive, emotional and behavioural patterns during specific brand interactions, whereas the latter may only develop thereafter.

Offering that extra ‘something something’: Customer engagement in a saturated marketplace

“The photographer was thought to be an acute but non-interfering observer – a scribe, not a poet. But as people quickly discovered that nobody takes the same picture of the same thing, the supposition that cameras furnish an impersonal, objective image yielded to the fact that photographs are evidence not only of what’s there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world.” Susan Sontag, On Photography

Photography is a competitive business with many new service providers entering the market each year. Lulu et Elle’s success as a brand relies on the deployment of a stylized aesthetic, reflective of the current trend in newborn photography. Each photo is as what Susan Sontag describes – imagery that is highly personal and specific to the client’s intended experience.

Lana maintains her success through her ability to connect with would-be clients; by understanding who they are, what they care about and what motivates them to act. She gathers information and categorizes key personas from her customer base. This information is further supplemented through customer interactions via blogs, Facebook groups, Instagram, LinkedIn groups etc.

Lana also takes the time to understand her client’s decision-making process. She understands the customer’s buying cycle, the key decision-makers in the household, and what information needs to be provided at each stage of the engagement process. She creates content that engages new customers while continuing to engage with existing customers.

Lessons for Others

Remember the who, what, when and how – engaging customers requires paying attention to these parts of the consumer purchasing cycle.

Who: It is imperative to know your clients and develop personal relationships. This drives the business forward both with increased sales and revenue and serves to reinforce the brand identity.

What: It is also important to know how clients make decisions and how to engage them within this process. This can be achieved through great sales skills but also through crafting the right online content that targets would-be clients at the right points along their decision-making timeline

When: It really helps to have an editorial calendar and hit the right milestones to keep customers engaged.

How: Do something out of the ordinary and engage customers with personalized content.

Organization: Lulu et Elle Photography
Industry: Photography
Name of Organization Contact: Lana Polashek, Owner and Principal Photographer

Authored by: Sylvia A

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