When your organization publishes content, it’s a direct representation of your business and your brand. Your content is how you communicate with your existing customers and your potential customers. It’s how you create a lasting impressions and showcase your business in it’s highest regard. There are multiple ways to push content, but the majority of them are amplified when paired with visuals.
A common stat that is thrown around states that visuals can be processed 60,000x faster in the human brain then plain text. This may or may not be true, but I think there are some other aspects to consider regarding visuals in marketing activities that make a bigger argument for strong photography.
Photography Triggers Emotions
Emotions are what drive human behavior. This is how you can speak directly to the human part of the brain that will leave a lasting impression on future decision making. Want a potential customer to remember your brand over a competitor? Show them how your product or service is going to make their lives better. Connect with them on an emotional level and give your offering context to how it will play a role in their life. Be relatable. Display your products or services in a way that triggers an emotional response.
“People will forget what you said… but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine you are shopping for a bicycle and you are doing research online for different styles of bikes, different brands of bikes, and which one you should purchase. You land on a website that sells bikes and you are browsing through their catalog of available options. The first one you click on takes you to a page with this image.
Wow. How unappealing is that? No image available. I have so many questions about this bike.
• What does it look like?
• What color is it?
• Is it a speed bike or a mountain bike?
• Is it for males or females?
• Is it for adults or children?
• Is this bike even available to purchase?
Should I trust I’m going to get the kind of bike I want? Probably not. I’m going to leave and go find a different bike.
The next bike you click on you land on a page with this image.
Okay, so at least we can see the bike. But the quality of the photo is raising some concerns.
• Is this a used bike?
• Why is this in front of a garage door?
• Am I buying this off Craigslist?
• Why is the front of the bike cropped off?
I’m not sold. Emotions triggered: concerned, distrust for quality. Let’s move on to the next one.
This seems nice. Nice profile shot of the bike. The white background removes distractions and keeps the image clean. Seems professional and reputable. These are commonly used photos for product listings, but lack the emotional factor. Let’s look at one more.
Look at that photo! The bike is in action with a human showing off the great quality and reliability in an actual use case. I’m inspired. It’s in an amazing location that shows the adventures you can have with this kind of bike. It shows the difficult terrain it can tackle and shows how much physical activity you can enjoy while riding. To top it off, it’s displaying a professional helmet and backpack which are accessories they sell as well (cross-sell opportunities).
Don’t DIY Your Photography
Cell phone cameras have come a long way. They’re getting better and better every year, but that doesn’t replace true professional photography. Proper photography equipment and a professional photographer will take you a lot further than snapping a couple pics on your iPhone. Lenses that capture proper volumes of light, that can zoom and focus on specific objects to create depth. Shutters that will create crisp images even out of action shots. Lighting equipment that will make your products shine. Cell phones just can’t compete.
Plus, having a trained eye is a practiced skill that photographers have been doing for years. That also goes for the photo editing. Nothing beats a professional photographer at editing the photos to reflect your products and services in the best light.
Don’t Use Stock Photography
If you can avoid it, please do. Stock photos are so 1998. They are staged, cheesy, and customers can spot them from a mile away. Stock photos are the quickest way to be like everyone else.
Sometimes companies can get away with stock photos, but only if they’re the right ones. Consult with your marketing people to help find the right ones. You’re going to want something generic with an artistic take so you don’t end up with something like this.
Your imagery is a reflection of your business and your brand. It’s important to make sure you have top quality photos to compliment your content that you publish. If you cheap out on photography, your customers will notice, and that will be an impression that will be hard to overcome.