How to use professional photography
Employing a professional photographer is an investment, and like any other business decision, you want to be sure that you are getting the most for your money. Using professional images extensively across your marketing in a variety of exciting and imaginative ways is a great way to maximise the value of your investment.
1. Show your customers who you are
It’s so true that a picture is worth a thousand words and can say more about your business than anything else you do. Your photography can convey a feeling, an ethos, a quality and expectation that your audience can immediately connect with. Your customers want to get to know you, and whilst stock imagery can be a great solution, in the most cases, generic samey images that have been seen time and again can feel faceless and generic. To help encourage people to buy from you, you have to help them understand what makes you special.
2. Don’t underestimate expertise
Modern smartphone cameras are more powerful than ever, and whilst it’s brilliant practise to snap quick pics of your every day activities and post to social media, we mustn’t underestimate the importance of employing a professional photographer to take those crucial promotion shots. Just think, we may all have an oven in our kitchen at home but that doesn’t make us a masterchef! When you employ a photographer, you’re paying for a service as well as the end product - it’s not just their super snazzy kit that takes such superior images but their years of experience in staging, lighting and editing that transforms a snap into a sensation.
3. Think about your images as part of your wider brand
Striking images can be as much part of your brand as your logo, your colour scheme and the language you use to talk to your audience. Consistency in your imagery will help your brand be instantly recognisable and will tie all aspects of your business promotion together. Think about all the different ways that a customer might come into contact with your product or service, right from early stages of them finding out about you, through to sales, implementation and delivery, to after sales and how you keep in touch with customers into the future to maintain that valuable contact. Each of these touchpoints offers an opportunity for you to reinforce your brand, create a positive impression and remind that customer why they made the right choice in buying from you.
4. Use your images widely and consistently
Using professional imagery as widely and effectively as possible will help make sure that you are making the most out of every shot taken.
Social Media - your social media schedule is likely packed with a variety of post types; testimonials, tips, new products, behind the scenes snippets, and so much more. Using your professional photography on your social media posts will give them greater impact and make them more memorable. Social media posts are twice as effective as text only posts, making them more visible, more shareable, and more exciting to engage with.
Here are a few ways to use photography to make your social media feed more engaging:
Decide which social media platforms you want to focus on (Facebook, Twitter, instagram, Pinterest) and populate your profile with stunning imagery that really reflects who you are.
Think about how your Facebook and Twitter news feeds will look and plan a variety of striking imagery and post types, so that whilst it appears fluid and varied to the reader, it is actually carefully scheduled to be consistent and balanced.
Look at other instagram accounts and decide how you want your instagram grid to look - do you need to add design elements to some of your posts (borders, logos, filters…) or create a patchwork effect by alternating squares to keep it varied and interesting.
Make a Pinterest board of your images, adding hashtags to make them searchable and links to direct traffic to your website. Find other people’s pins that complement your message and add them to your board.
Use images as background for client testimonials, famous quotes or reviews.
Choose a photograph and create a ‘listicle’ style article of information surrounding the image content, ie ‘top 5 tips’, ‘10 things to know about’ or ‘How to’ bullet point articles. Google loves listicles, plus they’re great for new content generation as each point in your list can then be expanded in a new article of its own.
Use your images to support surveys or data findings to create infographics (there are free online tools to help you with this). These are very shareable and can attract good engagement.
Design beautiful downloads such as digital brochures, useful info, tips, worksheets or articles and use your photography to make sure that people use and retain them. Your customers can sign up to receive them, which gives you the added advantage of collecting their data to send future mailings to (always ensuring that you have clear consent and give people an easy way to remove themselves at any point - GDPR compliance is essential!)
Write interesting articles and blog posts, using your imagery to support your discussion. Once you’ve written and published your blog post, you can turn the article into a podcast or use additional imagery to create a video.
Website - your images are your most powerful asset in showcasing your product or service online. Make sure they represent you in their look and feel as this will help attract more of your ideal customer and result in a more authentic sales connection that keeps people coming back for more.
Choose images that really capture your offering and use them in striking header panels to grab attention.
Add product or service pages that walk your customer through your offering. Use photos to highlight your key selling points.
Create ‘evergreen’ content (that doesn’t date) and accompany with relevant imagery. Quality content like this will help your website SEO by helping Google to understand your business and deliver your website higher in the search rankings.
A third of Google searches are image searches so help google to find your images. Change the filenames of your images from generic ‘DSC004897.jpg’ to a descriptor that google will use to deliver your images to relevant image searches.
Strike the balance in your image quality between fast load times and quality display.
Add ALT tags and descriptions to your images as you upload them to the back end of your website, again this will help Google find you.
Advertising - whether you’re advertising in print and magazines, online with social media or through programmatic digital advertising, your advertisements need to be well designed and consistent. The stronger the connection your advertisements have across all media settings, the more effective they will be. If a customer has seen your advert in a magazine and then goes online and sees the same image there, their decision to buy from you will be strengthened because they recognise you, their trust in your brand will be strengthened and their perception of how reputable your business is will increase.
Print promotions - we may live in a digital age, but print promotions are as effective as ever, so plan them alongside your online activities for the greatest impact. Leaflets, brochures, customer feedback cards and business cards are hugely powerful tools in your marketing toolkit, and professional images will elevate the impression you create.
Email Communications - sending regular newsletter updates to a subscribed list is a great way to keep your audience up to date on your latest news. Social media can be a noisy and frantic place, but an email inbox (if you can persuade them to open it!) will afford you a much longer attention span. Use your imagery to promote your latest products, share news, ask questions, and encourage your audience to engage with you.
And it’s not just your email newsletters. Every email you send is an opportunity for you to create a positive impression so why not add an image and article links to your email signature. Likewise, you can use imagery on the sales documents you are sending to link into advertising and promotions and reinforce other aspects of your marketing. Think about every aspect of your business and use professional images across the board to elevate your business from ordinary to extraordinary.