Archive for the ‘marketing tips’ Category
So often photos are included on websites that only:
- misrepresent the brand or philosophy
- don’t reflect the culture of the targeted area/market
- fail to inspire – i.e. BORING, weak, low-impact
- fail to show products clearly and in a favourable light
- do not give real life examples of the business at work
- use horrible profile photos that don’t inspire confidence in the person pictured
- imply a lack of attention to detail and a lack of quality
- just look cheesy and sales-pitchy
So why are there photos on your website? Presumably they’re there to:
- Create interest
- Match and enhance the words
- Provide strong examples
- Improve your SEO
- Build a brand
- Make your website look pretty (don’t underestimate what this does in people’s brains)
These are just the essentials. Then you may also be using photos to:
- Show how you are different
- Show who you are as people
- Create an online gallery or shop and sell products
If you boil it all down to one thing, the photos are there to:
- Make people buy
Think about what you want the photos to do versus what they might actually be doing.
Now think about how clever buyers are (aren’t you a discerning buyer?) and how much first impressions count. And where they’re going for their first impression.
So I ask the question again: Why are there photos on YOUR website?
The answer is: if they’re not great shots, they are there to help your competition.
Ok I will loosely use the term ‘real life’ here. By real life I still mean professional (because if the images on your business website don’t look professional then the only reason they could be there is to help out your competition!). Real life can also mean ‘life-like’ or constructed. But while these images may well be set up to serve your purposes, real life images are taken just for you and incorporate REAL aspects of YOUR business.
Of course if you are selling products online or promoting a fashion label then the images have to be accurate representations of the real thing. While stock images can be used in other ways – to add a visual element to information, for example – they often are nowhere near as effective as using photos of your actual business at work.
Customers want to connect with something real. We’ve all seen the same stock images floating around various corporate, health and beauty websites, for example, that have become so commonplace that we instantly disconnect from them. So the purpose for which they were put there to begin with – to engage – has not been achieved!
Wouldn’t it be better to see photos of real team members engaging with clients? Or images of ingredients/components particular to your products? Or photos of the various locations/projects/stores/offices in which your staff work?
If these are done well (read: professionally!) they add value to your website and other marketing initiatives on a whole new level.
And I don’t mind bragging… we are proud of our work with clients where we:
- organise a range of photo setups to demonstrate their products and services and really tap into their brand
- arrange local talent to help blend with staff members for natural looking shots
- provide tips and direction to staff members to help them relax and enjoy their shoot
- and all within great-value packages that often beat the price of decent stock photography.
Just look at our examples!
It was 7am and I was at my desk. I’d just worked eight days in a row despite promising myself I’d take Sundays off, and I had to make an early start again today because I’d promised a client they’d have their work early. I felt frazzled, stressed and tired and the day had just begun. What’s more, I needed to summon the high levels of energy and creativity needed for a photo shoot by that afternoon. My team was already juggling a full workload and I needed to handle the rest.
As I sat there editing a hundred photos as fast as my hand could click the mouse, hunching over the computer, gripping my coffee mug for dear life… it occurred to me that today, it would be a stretch to deliver my best to the clients I was working with. I had limited time to choose and edit this client’s photos and then drive over to deliver them personally, before wrapping my brain around that client’s photo shoot – going over brief, brand and strategy, gathering and checking equipment, getting there and then delivering a creative and efficient shoot.
It made me realise that saying yes to every request (Can you squeeze my shoot in this week? Can you send me some photos straight away?) did not make me a saint, it just made me a business owner who wasn’t using her brain.
I’ve heard it said that when you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else, because you can’t possibly do everything. Even with the most wonderful team members by my side, I still cannot do everything. So by bending this way and that to accommodate an extra request, I’m inevitably letting someone else down – it could be a client, but it’s more often a loved one who also wants a share of my time, or it’s letting myself down – my values, my health, my sense of satisfaction in my work.
As the day wore on and I continued churning out the work, not enjoying it as I normally would but feeling I had no choice at this point, I became more agitated and stressed. I knew at the end of the day I wouldn’t have a sense of achievement because most of the things I had actually planned to do today had gone out the window. My to do list remained a mile long.
When I finally arrived home late that evening – too tired to think of cooking and wondering if there was any wine even though it was only Monday – I felt suddenly furious that I’d allowed my day to be hijacked yet again. I reached for that glass of wine (well, I needed it) and a notepad and pen, threw myself onto the couch and started to write, in quite large and angry scrawl, a list of things I will and won’t do from now on.
I WILL make time each week to take a complete break from my business.
I WON’T book a shoot on my designated day off, even if that means missing out on a new client.
I WILL remind clients of the terms they signed when they make requests outside of the reasonable boundaries I have set.
I WON’T drop what I’m doing to attend to one client just because they ‘scream the loudest’.
I WILL put my health and wellbeing first no matter what, because without that, I’ve got nothing to give myself or anyone else!
The ‘angry list’ went on for quite a while, but I’ve since distilled it into a few short points that summarise my values about how I structure my day to deliver the best customer service I can. Whenever I feel like I’m being backed into a corner, I look at these signposts and change my behaviour to get back on track.
I still instinctively want to say ‘yes’ and make promises I can’t always keep because I really want all my clients to be deliriously happy, but I’m learning that saying NO more often ultimately serves my customers better.
With the overwhelming quantity of on-screen information available these days, companies are looking for a way to stand out and make a visual impact – knowing this is the quickest way to gain attention when attention spans are short.
My corporate clients are starting to seek photography with a difference – whether it be for profile photos or personalised ‘stock images’ for their websites – and one way we’re doing this is through editorial style photography.
What is an editorial style? If you’ve ever picked up a copy of In the Black, or another high-quality business magazine, you may have an idea. These are the images that go alongside a story – usually about business success – and offer more than just a visually boring head and shoulders shot. It could be an interesting angle, a backdrop such as a busy city street or elegant boardroom, or a simple prop such as an armchair that gives the photograph a fresh approach and something interesting to look at. Most of all these photographs tell a story themselves – and you can choose the story.
So why is an editorial style a good idea when investing in your corporate photography? Well we all know an image says a thousand words, and by thinking carefully about the words you want to say you can make the right impression and attract the right market. Photography that is edgy and fresh says the same about your company, and that can only be a good thing in a time of such fast-paced innovation.
There’s a lot you can do to ensure you have a great professional photo shoot… so take ownership to enjoy your shoot and get maximum ROI!
Before the shoot
- Check you understand what is expected of you – do you need to organise a running sheet, location, permissions… or is this being done for you by your photographer? Do you need to source particular ‘props’ or clothing?
- Do you know what to wear? We give our clients a tip sheet to help them feel informed about what looks good through the lens. If you are unsure, it’s much better to ask and be prepared than chance a guess at what will work and run the risk of being disappointed in your photos.
- Make sure you are clear on what is and isn’t included in your photography package – e.g. black and white editing, special effects, extra airbrushing… these are usually extras because they take time if done well
During your shoot
- Your photographer should guide you through the setups for each shot so you aren’t left wondering what to do. However, if you are unsure, ask for clarification or ideas. Don’t be afraid to contribute ideas of your own!
- Posing for photographs can be tiring. If you need a break, take it, or the strain will show on your face.
- Understand that excellent shots take time to set up. Unless you and your photographer are able to schedule extra time, don’t expect the photographer to ‘just quickly take a photo of …’ just because they have a camera in their hands. It is better to plan for a few quality setups than a long list of shots that you will both have to rush through.
After your shoot
- Check with your photographer what the next step is. Usually, this will involve post-production editing and delivery of work. To avoid a hold-up, ensure you abide by the terms of your agreement – such as paying your invoice on time.
- If you need the work by a certain date make sure you tell the photographer as early as possible – preferably at the time of booking the shoot. We finish our projects within two weeks of the shoot but if a client has let us know in advance that they need their work earlier, we usually can schedule it in to suit.
- Communicate with your photographer if there are any problems after your shoot. Photography is a subjective art and if the photos don’t meet your expectations for any reason, a good photographer wants to know this and try to make it right for you. If it’s a reasonable complaint or request, this usually doesn’t cost the client any more, so it’s worth touching base.
I zoomed down Stirling Highway towards the city, on my way to the high tea I was photographing at. My assistant would be with me, representing my business at the expo table and exhibition space I was getting in exchange for my event photography services. She was meeting me at the Hilton in half an hour and we’d have an hour to set up before guests started arriving, to drink tea, eat little cakes and sandwiches and listen to doctors talk about problems down below, all to raise money for a charity funding cancer research. I was doing this ‘freebie’ quite happily, because it was fashion season and the events were on a whole different level of glamour and fun, but mostly because in this case, I’d volunteered, as it was in aid of a cause I cared about.
As I drove I wolfed down a hotdog and coke I’d obtained from a fundraiser stand for senior citizens’ surfing, set up outside Bunnings. I wiped away as much sausage sizzle smell as I could, touched up my lipstick… and suddenly remembered I was wearing flip flops and my red shoes were in the boot. I couldn’t turn up to valet parking at the Hilton like this, so I stopped on the side of the road for the swap. A teenage boy hanging around outside his house looked on with interest.
I had to laugh at the absurdity of pulling into the Hilton’s sweeping driveway in my beat up old red car, stepping out in my stripy little dress and red shoes and handing the keys haughtily to the valet. I find the trick to saving yourself the embarrassment of looking like a phoney playing dress-ups is to act 100% like you are VIP: look decisive and walk briskly; stand straight; look like you know where you are going and have been here a thousand times before; and most importantly assume you are always going to get your way. Playing this game has become a lot of fun and it works a treat!
I had even more fun than usual snapping this event. I was kept busy the whole time, in a room of over 200 guests, lots of VIPs, and a full event agenda. I didn’t even mind my most hated job of going from table to table asking if I can take a group photo – it helps when people aren’t drunk and you can organise the group quickly – and I discovered that turning up the wattage on the smile seems to convince people instantly that I’m not a media hound and that a photo might actually be fun. Best of all, I got to exhibit fashion and art prints for the second time. It was such a thrill to see people going up close to take a look and Elle, my assistant, who was standing close by to take questions, said there were lots of positive comments on the work. A few people took brochures or cards and looked at the information folder on the display table… it wasn’t a stampede but it was something. Oh, and my favourite Perth lady, the Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi was there – the second time I was working at an event she was attending.
As Elle and I waited for the car to be brought round, art prints and equipment in hand, we shared a feeling of elation at a good day’s work and a little good karma for doing something for ‘free’.
With new social media like Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram focusing on the use of images to attract target markets, it’s a good time to think about how the use of cultural symbols in the photographs you use affect people’s perception of your business.
A simple stock photograph like a handshake or a steaming cup of coffee brings with it certain ideas and values – the photograph becomes a frame of reference for the surrounding message. In another article, I talked about the important things to consider when choosing images for your business, such as whether or not a photograph is culturally appropriate, overused, too obvious or too subtle for the intended audience. These factors will make the difference not only in terms of clear communication but whether you’ve achieved a strong and positive message about your business.
A good starting point is to take stock of the images you are currently using. New Work offers a free DIY Photo Health Check for your business or personal brand, available from our website www.newworkphotography.com
The next step is to plan an image strategy in line with your marketing aims
Some brands effectively using a variety of images to build a certain perception of their brand:
- Starbucks on Facebook and Pinterest https://www.facebook.com/Starbucks/app_305927716147259 Not just coffee, but inspiring spaces, beautiful objects and coffee DIY… building a whole lovely world around coffee!
- Virgin on Google Plus https://plus.google.com/+Virgin/posts Virgin’s use of Google Plus includes an eclectic mix of personal and visually enticing images and a way to interact with the Virgin brand on topics of interest
- Cadbury UK’s website http://www.cadbury.co.uk/ Cadbury have used images to create stories and competitions (‘Joyville’), share the history of Cadbury and include helpful information such as chocolate recipes to entice people back to the website. Their Google Plus account https://plus.google.com/+CadburyUK/posts is an extension of this
- A small business example: social media agency Talking Finger’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TalkingFinger won an award, part of which was based on its visual branding. The photos here are funny and the surrounding information useful and interesting – a really engaging page
Questions to ask when brainstorming how to use images around your business
- What images evoke the feeling or lifestyle your customers crave? E.g. if selling pools, you could use images about relaxation and luxury – stacked up towels, flip flops, fruity cocktails, a wide sunhat, tanned skin!
- What images encourage people to interact with your brand? An image as the ‘cover page’ for a competition, a joke, a stand-out image that relates to a question you are asking of your audience are some ideas
- What images make people feel ‘at home’ with your company? Personal happy snaps of staff members doing everyday things and showing their hobbies or preferences help customers feel they know you
- What images show your brand’s ‘style’? Do images with a vintage feel suit your business? Do bold, loud images fit your brand? Or slick and corporate? This is definitely an area where a professional photographer can help, through their technical and creative skills.
Now get snapping
I’ve previously discussed the strengths and weaknesses of stock photography versus a professional photo shoot. Ideally you would have a variety of images to use in your branding that have been created just for your business, but if not, it’s important to look at the value of the chosen photographs versus the cost. Originality, professional quality, creativity and cleverness, visual appeal and impact, and culturally appropriate messages are all important to consider when choosing stock photography.
Find out more about our tailored stock and photo shoot package options.
What to talk about with your photographer
The messages you want to send to your target market through your business or personal brand should determine what your people photos look like. Here are four points to talk about with your photographer.
1. Photographic Style
There are various styles of photography and some photographers specialise in one in particular. I have my preferred styles that I believe have the best and most impact in today’s business world, but I will also consider the individual brand first and the context (such as the design of the website and marketing materials where the photographs will be used). Some examples of styles for people shots are natural/candid, editorial, theatrical/dramatic, quirky/left of centre.
2. Mood or tone
Colour, black and white, shadow, framing and angle of view are techniques the photographer will use to create certain effects in the photograph’s mood or tone, which in turn affects how the audience will react to your business. This is especially important in profile and team photos, as these are the first impression and the make or break of the potential customer’s connection with your business. You don’t have to decide on these technical choices, but be able to articulate the feeling you want people to get when they look at photographs of your team.
I rarely work in a studio, as I believe that people connect with photographs that tell a story, and this is best done through the use of scene – a location to suit your brand. This can also include use of props! Photos in your work place tell a story about your business, or you may choose an outdoor or urban location to tell a story about you in your community. Your photographer should be able to make suggestions and even organise location and props for you.
4. People styling
The clothing, hair and make-up choices you make for you and your team will have a big impact on the photos. It’s really important that you look your best, and make-up for ladies can go a long way in projecting a professional image – so consider this, even if you don’t normally wear make-up. Freshly washed hair is essential (yes, I actually have to say this). For clients who are unsure about clothing or make-up/hair styling I send them a tip sheet and offer to book a stylist for them. I’ve written a lot more on this topic and included articles from styling experts – check out the articles below.
Assessing your current photos
We offer a free DIY Photo Health Check, where you can assess the photos in your current marketing through a checklist addressing image quality, impact, relevance and placement. You can access this on our website.
Need more help?
We also can provide a $75 Creative Consultation – creative ideas to get you started thinking about the photography in your marketing. This is a one-to-one, obligation free consultation where we look at what is and isn’t working in your current marketing, and come up with a creative concept for your photographs. And if you choose to book the photography with us, the consultation fee is credited towards your shoot.
The Executive Women’s Forum is proudly one of Perth’s oldest women’s business networking groups. I’ve been attending the monthly breakfasts at the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club for some months now and from the start was impressed by the energy, kindness and fighting spirit of the women in this group.
They have amazing stories to share with business and career women who are just starting out, and I’m currently working on a project to collate these stories into a book. In the meantime, the EWF ladies are waiting to meet you and hear your story too.
To keep this group going well into the future and to treasure our wonderful heritage as women in business, I invite Perth women to visit a breakfast and see for themselves. The group needs energetic women to bring new ideas and initiatives and to help promote the network. If you are interested in visiting or in bringing your skills to the group, please contact me or speak to the committee directly.
A Creative Profile Shoot is a way to demonstrate a brand through your profile photos, and this is something we specialise in.
We asked some of our clients why their Creative Profile Shoot was so important to their success in business. Their responses included the following benefits:
- Projecting the right image
- Helping potential customers connect with who we are
- Standing out from the crowd
- Demonstrating a professional standard in all our messages
- Part of the overall design of the website/marketing materials
- Making me look my best
‘The creative profile shoot was important to my business because it gave me a truly professional image. The variety and quality of images exceeded my expectations.’ – Rebecca Cole, Networking WA
‘I had a definite idea in mind about the shots I wanted from my creative profile shoot as I wanted the photos to be in keeping with Pinc Resumes’ theme (black and white with a hint of pink). The photos were exactly what I wanted. They blended in beautifully with my website and could be used on other marketing tools also. I’ve had some fantastic comments and people get a feel for who I am and what I do.’ – Kylie Kempton,
‘The portraits that were taken by New Work Photography were the first visual images for our company profile. While we understand that the word ’stockstandard’ in most contexts implies run-of-the-mill, common-place or ordinary; to us it means ‘Stocky’s standard’ which demonstrates a high standard of work ethics, pride in our skills and no compromise on quality to ensure client satisfaction. The photos that resulted from our shoot, we believe, reflected these qualities and who we are. All the feedback from our company profile has been positive, describing the professionalism and quality of the images.’ – Sara & Ron Stockdale, Stockstandard Mechanical
‘With a Personal Concierge business the need to project a professional yet personable image is paramount. Prospective clients viewing our marketing material now see a professional face that comes across as someone they can trust with their most personal and private matters or their business needs. I’m very proud to publish my profile shots within my marketing material.’ – Jay Shaw, Simply Easier Personal Concierge Services
‘The overwhelming feedback I receive is how very professional my site looks, easy on the eye & easy to work through. An important part of this is the photography.’ – Christine Brown, Potential Unlocked
Book an obligation-free creative consultation or your own creative profile shoot – Contact Us
See more examples and comments from our clients – Commercial Photo Gallery
Be Media Ready – tips to prepare your business for media attention!
Light has Meaning – how light falls on the subject affects the viewer’s perception
Your 5-Minute Linked In Checkup – get your page right and make the most of this great resource