How hard are your images working for you?
By: Jean Terman
Have you seen the photo of the smooth rocks resting on a bed of sand or the one with the waterfall flowing gently into a pool of clear water surrounded by greenery? I bet you have. Now can you remember which website or which business used that image? Was it a reiki practitioner, a yoga instructor, jewelry designer or that organic living store you love? I saw an almost identical image on each of these websites and even on their business cards. I understand why they love the images and I even understand why they chose them for their marketing but it sure didn’t do anything to make them memorable or set them apart. It didn’t tell their story.
Now, think about the services and products that have caught your attention: the ones you remember. Betcha’ know who Captain Obvious is and what service he wants you to use. How about those thirsty polar bears, what image just popped into your mind? Can’t forget the talking lizard with the British? accent, can we? Your brain is storing so many services and products linked to compelling images that if you started listing them now you would still be coming up with additional ones hours later. That is the power of unique and compelling marketing combining product, service and image.
I know, those bears took some serious money to create but most of us aren’t going global right now. We can start smaller, unique doesn’t have to be big and flashy, just uniquely you.
We live in a visual age. People don’t want to stop and read text; they want images that convey the message. You want to provide them with information that is easy to digest, something that sparks their imagination and gets them to stop scrolling long enough to get interested in what you have to say. Your marketing needs to communicate your value to the customer. Powerful imagery helps communicate your brand story to the viewer. Still not convinced? Check out these recent statistics:
- Articles with relevant images average 94% more total views than articles without images.
- A press release with photos gets nearly 15% more online views than a text-only press release.
- 60% of consumers who use online search say they prefer to contact a business whose listing includes an image.
- Nearly 70% of e-commerce website shoppers say the product image is very important when making their purchase decision. (Source: MDG Advertising)
Why are images so powerful?
It is how our brain processes information that gives us a clue:
- Research at 3M Corporation concluded that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
- Additional studies found that the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process.
- The world is moving too fast and a page full of text is daunting to a viewer that just wants to know if your site is worth their precious time.
What does all this mean to you?
Simple, you only get one chance at a first impression and your images are going to be the first thing they see on your site or in your marketing collateral. You can use stock photos if you are strategic and clever about their placement, but you’ll catch the viewers’ attention faster with images of you and your products/services. It is you they came to see after all.
How to grab and keep your viewers’ attention
Great photographs are a sure fire way to show your business at its best. Beautiful images of your space, your products, your people, and you help portray your message and generate trust. I know it is easy to snap photos with whatever device is handy but a poorly lit, poorly executed image is too easy for people to look past. Once they have, there goes your first impression and your audience. They will have moved on to something that catches their eye and left you behind.
So now that we know how important those first few images are, how do we get the right ones? Creating images that complement your branding gives you a unified look across all your marketing pieces. Taking time to think through your marketing message and how you want to convey it to the viewer allows you to create a seamless approach.
Build your photo wish list:
- Use what is already out there to spur your imagination. Looking at what similar, and even not so similar, businesses have done will help get your creative juices flowing. Make a list of the things that caught your attention. If you liked them, it is a good bet others will too.
- Use those inspirations to start building your story ideas. Don’t recreate what you’ve seen, weave your own personality into the narrative and tie it to the text that it will be illustrating. e.g., if your specialty is helping young families find their first homes, what about a photo of you with a young family and a small child having cookies at their new kitchen table or having the child drawing a SOLD sign? Make it something that compliments your spirit and what your client will experience with you.
- Don’t stop at the first idea, brainstorm different scenarios telling unique stories that illustrate your business.
- Is there a certain mood you want to convey? An injury attorney and a child daycare center would need images that help the viewer feel something different. (I hope)
- Make a list of any content that should be in the photos: products, lifestyle types, service offerings, mandatory branding, etc.
- Work within your branding color scheme. Everything doesn’t have to be your orange and purple logo colors but a splash here and there ties the image to your brand.
- Find a photographer that understands how to create branded images and make sure they are clear on your vision. If you trust the photographer, let them in on the process. Having someone walk you through the story boards and help you ‘see’ the finished product before you ever pick up a camera will ensure that your time and your budget is managed wisely.
Make sure the photographs tell your story in a meaningful way
Good marketing photography is so much more than filler. It tells your brand story and helps the viewer get to know you before they ever meet you. Maybe you make Zen rock gardens and that photo is a perfect illustration of your products… if not, ditch the rocks and dig up images that are all about you. That is the best way to have picture perfect marketing materials. (I had to, I just had to.)
Ironic Twist Alert:
This blog engine does not let you upload images! Want to see what a difference images make? Head over to http://www.jeantermanphotography.com/photo-blog.