We’ve written before about the importance of having a great headshot in our post "Five Tips for Capturing the Perfect Headshot for Your Business and Your Brand." We’ve also discussed the right way to go about acquiring images from photographers in "Just Gimme the Photos." Imagery is everywhere and consumers expect to see it when shopping for your services and products. However, not all images are created equal, and some businesses miss the mark when choosing imagery to represent their brand. So what kinds of images should you be using? What are clients looking for? Here is some instruction on what’s useful and what’s not when it comes to photography for marketing your business.
Make sure it’s relevant to your business. I’ve spoken with several DJs who expressed frustration when receiving images from photographers. While they are grateful to be given photos of their events, most are not suitable for their marketing needs. Photos of bouquets or portraits in a field are irrelevant when it comes to selling entertainment. A DJ site should feature action shots from the dance floor or the DJs themselves working the party. Similarly, you should include images that either feature your service or product, or that perhaps evoke an emotion that you feel will resonate with your clients. Be sure to include several types of images to show variety as well as to give context. For example: as a florist. you may want to show a closeup of a bouquet, the bouquet being held by the bride, and the full wedding party holding and wearing florals.
Use high quality files online and offline. Images are sized with regard to their use. Web-ready photos will appear blurry when printed and, depending on the size of enlargement, will most likely require you a higher resolution file. This is why it’s a good idea to hire your own photographer or at least form good relationships with the ones you work with at events so that you get the right size images for the right application. I generally send low resolution, watermarked files for use online with the option to upgrade if vendors need specific unmarked images for print. I want my images to look their best as well (no photographer is eager to be credited with a blurry, poorly-rendered image) so I’m willing to take the extra step of sending high quality files.
Stock is great but custom is better. Stock photography is a good way to keep costs low, especially when you are starting out. It also helps you to create a consistent look. Once you get your business underway, however, you may want to consider the custom route. This means asking photographers to share images from events you have worked together or hiring a photographer to take photos of you and your products or services. The second option is the only way to truly make sure you are getting the images you want and that are consistent with your branding message. This is a significant investment, so make sure to choose a photographer that suits your style and is willing to create a series of images that match your brand. The old adage “You get what you pay for” definitely applies here and not every photographer is up to the task. Just because someone photographs events for a living does not make them great at photographing. say, head shots or products in your studio.
Complement your copy. This may seem elementary, but you should select images that illustrate what is being described in your written copy. Talking about linens and chair rentals for a wedding while showing images from a corporate conference is confusing. The viewer’s eye will automatically go to the photo first and they may not even read the copy if they don’t believe it applies to their needs. You also can use multiple images to show your capabilities if you do business in many arenas, but don’t assume a wedding image will suffice for the corporate set. Yes, there may be some overlap in the types of rentals for each client, but they need to be able to visualize their own specific event type.
Get creative help. If this all seems too overwhelming and you have no idea where to begin, enlist the help of a designer, stylist or branding expert to create a plan of action. Yes, we are all in a creative field, but sometimes our talents do not extend to the print and online world. Or, we have trouble getting out of our own heads: what looks good to us may not translate to our clients, so it’s always helpful to get a second (or third) opinion. I always like to let someone outside of my field take a look at my marketing to get a fresh perspective.
Now that you have a foundation for choosing the right photography for your marketing, be sure to check back next week when we'll be sharing more advice on how to obtain great (and effective) images.