Category: mentoring

2017 Ayres Photography Client Gift Boxes

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Last year, after much thought, consideration and months of careful planning, we were finally ready to send out our very first round of client gift boxes. This project is something that we had been thinking about for quite a long time and it felt amazing to see it all come together! Showing our brides and grooms just how much they mean to us is of the utmost importance. After all, where would we be without them?! We were SO excited to send each 2016 couple a beautiful box jam packed with gifts from a handful of our favorite Buffalo makers. Click here to see last year’s surprises! Thankfully this labor of love turned out to be quite a success! We couldn’t wait to start planning out what we were going to send this season!

This year, as we started selecting some new surprises to fill the boxes with, we began to realize that we were gravitating towards items that make us feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy inside. From tasty treats to relaxing scents, this year’s boxes were filled with things that we could totally picture our couples enjoying together on a slow, cozy Sunday morning. And, so evolved our theme for this year, “A Cozy Sunday Morning.” Taking the time to relax and soak it all in with the one you love, especially during the often hectic time of wedding planning, is definitely something that we find to be super important! In most cases you only get married once, and there are so many things that need to be done during that time. All of a sudden you blink and it’s your wedding day and you wonder what the heck happened to the year?! We wanted this year’s gift to be something that would encourage our couples to make sure they take some time out of their busy schedule and really reflect on the many reasons why they’ve decided to share their lives together. And so…. *drumroll* ….here are the contents of The Ayres Photography 2017 Client Gift Boxes:

When they open the box, the first thing our clients see is a declaration of truth, “You’re the best!”, because they are! These amazing couples sought us out to document one of the most important days of their lives! They trust us to capture their wedding day in a way that truly reflects them as individuals and as a couple. They value our advice and our expertise and they are confident in our skills as professionals. They saw past our photographs straight into our hearts and they feel the passion we have for our craft. Now, if that isn’t the best then I don’t know what is!

On top of the crinkle paper there’s a simple card that says, “Thank you so much for choosing us! We’re so excited to work with you!” The back of the card (not pictured) says “These are a few of our favorite things,” and gives a list of each item enclosed along with the names of the makers and their IG handles so that our couples know right where they can go to get more of these amazing goods!

These are the gifts (and amazing makers) that we chose to include in our 2017 gift boxes:

  1. Linwood Candle Co. – We used Linwood Candle Co in our boxes last year and it was such a huge hit with our clients that we couldn’t help but include them again! Their Sweet Grapefruit Soy Candle is one of the greatest things I’ve ever smelled; I don’t know how she does it!! They’re made with soy wax, essential oils and cotton wicks, so they’re safe for the environment and they fill your home with the most incredible scent imaginable. We definitely get tons of great feedback every time we send these candles out. They are seriously the best.

  2. Butter Block – Last year we sent out Colleen’s amazing homemade Oreos and after those bites of heaven we knew we definitely wanted to include a Butter Block offering again this year. We decided to switch it up and went with her homemade Pop Tarts and let me just tell you, it was really hard not to eat them all ourselves! If you’re a sucker for light and flaky, super buttery, melt in your mouth pastries filled with decadent fillings and topped with delicious glazes then you will not be disappointed with these. In fact, they’re so popular that they often completely sell out!! Follow Butter Block on Instagram to see where their next pop up shop will be so you can grab your own! Don’t sleep on these, folks. These are the real deal. You’ll never buy Kellogg’s again.

  3. TeaLeafs – This shop was new for us this year and we’re really happy that we decided to include them! Sydney, the shop owner, is such a wonderful woman and her passion and sense of community mirror all of our own values in business. Her delicious tea bags filled our boxes with a wonderful warm and cozy scent of roasted almonds and cinnamon- perfect for cozying up on the couch!

  4. Sweet Fields – We couldn’t send out lovely teas without including it’s partner in crime – honey!! We knew we wanted someone local who could provide us with the best raw honey possible. This beekeeping family of Sweet Fields has been working with honeybees for over 30 years and their farm is right here in Erie County. They sell it at the Hamburg and Lancaster Farmer’s Markets, so go check ’em out and tell them we sent you!

  5. Zandra – We included Zandra’s incredible all natural Big Balms in our boxes last year and we knew we needed to include them again. Not only are her skin care products natural and amazing for your skin, but this girl is just that – a girl! A teenage girl with an insane talent for making wonderful skin care at an affordable price. Oh, and she’s a Buffalo native of course. We can’t figure out what is sweeter, her products or her personality. Let’s just call it a tie. :)

  6. Rust Belt Love – We’ve worked with Alyson on a number of different projects in the past, including our 2016 gift boxes. I may be slightly biased because I love her so much as a person, but I really think she’s the best of the best in our city. If you want your invitations designed by someone who has Buffalove coming out of her eyeballs, then Aly is 100% your girl. She’s a genius. This year we chose to include her beautiful note cards showcasing drawings of different Buffalo landmarks such as the Grain Silos, Hotel at the Lafayette, the Peace Bridge and a whole bunch of other incredible and historical Buffalo buildings that are near and dear to our hearts.

  7. Love By Bean – Have you ever heard of a seed bomb?? Well, you have now! Eileen’s Organic Pollinator Wildflower Seed Bombs are the perfect thing to bring beautiful flowers to any yard! Each seed bomb is made with post-consumer paper and hand-selected, high-quality, organic, non-GMO seeds. You can pretty much toss them out your car window and they’ll grow colorful and amazing flowers just about anywhere! You don’t even need to bury them! Perfect for anyone, whether you have a green thumb or not.

And that completes our 2017 Ayres Photography Client Gift Boxes! Tune in to see what we come up with for next season! We believe so strongly in things that are handmade with love in small batches, and there is no shortage of products that fit this description in our beautiful city. We already have so many great ideas!! If you have a locally made product in mind that you think we should check out, let us know in the comments!

3 things you must have on your about page

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Ah, the dreaded “About Me” page; making people feel awkwardly self conscious since the dawn of the Internet. It’s never easy for us to talk about ourselves. I can write about other people all day long and twice on Sunday, but when it comes to writing about myself, who I am, my values, etc., writer’s block swoops right in. I’ve gotten much better at it over the years, though; it just takes practice. It also really, really helps to know who you’re talking to so you can speak directly to that person, but that’s another topic for another time. It used to be okay to have a website stating what product or service you offer and how much you charge for it, with a few photos mixed in to give your potential customers a “visual” of what they’d be getting. Well, friends, those days are gone. With all of the options available today, we have become much more choosy about where and how we spend our money. People want to know WHO is behind the product or service, and if your product or service requires them make an emotional investment (i.e. wedding photography), then it’s absolutely essential that you introduce yourself to people properly when they visit you online.

My favorite analogy for this is taking a night time stroll through your neighborhood. Stay with me…I promise this will make sense. So, imagine for a minute that you’re taking a walk through your neighborhood later in the evening on a warm summer night. It’s totally dark out, and you walk past a house where the living room lights are on. Your eyes are attracted to the light and the flickering TV screen (because it’s dark out), so you take a closer look. You can see the people very clearly doing whatever people do, and it’s really hard to look away when you get a glimpse like this because it’s totally normal to be curious about how other people live. We ALL have that natural curiosity. You notice that one person is watching Jeopardy while another is on their laptop. You think to yourself, “Huh, I like Jeopardy, too. Great show. Hey, I have the same MacBook! I wonder what they had for dinner?” You notice they have floral wallpaper, a green couch just like your Grandma used to have, and a wall filled with family photos. You find it all very interesting, and in a way, you now feel like you know those people a little bit better, or at the very least, you feel like you can relate to them a little bit. Next time you see them out raking their lawn, you might even say hello. Do you see where I’m going with this? Your “About” page, and really your entire web presence as a whole, should be a window into your life that invites curious onlookers. You want people to notice things about you that resonate with them, and make them think, “I could totally be friends with her.”  You also want people who are not your ideal clients to peek into the window and say, “what a weirdo – NOPE,” and keep on moving. Both of these scenarios are perfectly ideal.

So, now that we all understand why it’s important to create an interesting window for people to peek through, what do we want them to see? Here are THREE things that I believe are necessary for the about page of any small business owner:

1. You need a recent, professional photo that clearly shows your face. At least one is mandatory, but more than one is great, too. We need to see your face so we know that you’re a real person. And really, it should be a professional photo so we know to take you seriously. If you’re not able to currently invest in a branding session, ask a photographer friend if they’re willing to work out a trade. Creatives are excellent at utilizing the barter system.

2. You need to tell us WHY you do what you do. This is a chance for you to show us what you’re made of. How do you feel when you’re immersed in your work? Why should I work with you? What kind of person are you? What value will you add to my life? I prefer to see people introduce themselves in the first person on their websites, but I do understand that there is a time and a place for the third person narrative. It all depends on who your client is. If your target audience is primarily large corporations, then an introduction in the third person makes sense. However, if the product or service you offer requires people to make an emotional investment (i.e. wedding photographer, family photographer, yoga instructor, massage therapist, nanny, daycare, etc.), then you should absolutely be introducing yourself in the first person. Speak directly to the people who “peek into your windows.” Make us feel welcome. Tell us a story. We don’t need to know every award you’ve ever won; we need to know the story behind how you invented yourself and what motivates you to keep going.

3. You need to share 3-5 things that make you unique and allow us to easily connect with you. While I don’t recommend that your entire “About” page be filled with random facts about you, I do think it’s important to have a few things that will help your dream clients see how much they have in common with you. This will also repel people who you definitely do not want to work with. For example, the fact that I’m an animal lover is WAY out there on my About page. That’s a big part of who I am, so naturally, I want to attract people who love animals as much as I do.

In addition to these three tips, I also recommend that you give people something to “do” when they are done reading about you and are ready to learn even more. Examples of this would be a link to your contact page, a newsletter opt-in, a link to your Instagram, or a link to your business FB page. Wherever you most want to connect with them is where you should direct them to go.

I hope these tips were super helpful to you!  If you’re feeling like your “About” page isn’t up to snuff (i.e. isn’t helping you reach and connect with your ideal clients or doesn’t represent you well), then it might be time to give that puppy an overhaul.  If the thought of sitting down to write a bunch of captivating stuff about yourself seems scary and overwhelming and you’d like some one-on-one help, not to worry; I’ve got you covered.  I created my “Online Presence” Mentoring Session with you in mind. :)

Click the link below to learn more!