More than a decade ago, a study sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery showed that a company could overcome bad word-of-mouth simply by posting friendly photographs on its website.
Whether due to reputation management or simply a lack of budget, it's not uncommon to see the same stock photo of a "business team" or a "happy call center operator" on competing websites. Expert advisers recommend that you set your business apart by investing in quality, original photography for your small business.
Personal Photographs Build Authenticity and Trust
Website usability expert Jakob Nielsen found that people spent 10 percent more time viewing photos of a client's team, while ignoring photos they perceived as "filler." And according to veteran photographer Alina Vincent, photographs of the people actually employed in your business build rapport with both customers and prospects.
In her book, "You Stock," Vincent challenges business owners to replace stock photography featuring models with personalized marketing photos of company owners and team members.
Vincent suggests that businesses shoot far more than just the traditional executive headshot. A successful photo shoot includes poses and scenes that can work on websites, billboards, catalogs and media releases. The right lighting, makeup, and art direction can allay any fears that you or your business don't look as good as your competition.
Polished Product Photography Improves Conversion
If your business sells finished goods instead of services, the same lessons apply to your product shots. According to Etsy expert Karen Lee, professional looking product photos can make or break your small business. She advises business owners to shoot products under indirect light and to focus on shot composition. The right backdrop or prop should accentuate your item, or even tell a story about where it came from or the lifestyle it represents.
When your company style leans more toward Apple than Anthropologie, entrepreneur Peter Crawfurd suggests investing in a cube-shaped light tent, often available for less than $100. Photo editors can replace an even background with something more colorful, or you can simply ride today's trend of clean, crisp product photography. Either way, your products will look far better than if you take a picture on your kitchen table.
Pre-produce Photos for High Conversion
Whether you're shooting pictures of people, places, or things, thinking about the composition of your company photos can improve your return on investment. When hotel marketing expert Rajesh Rajan analyzed photos on the Four Seasons website, he noticed that none of their marketing shots contained the color red. The design team reserved use of that color for a call-to-action button, making it the only red element on the page.
Likewise, studies show that you'll improve your clicks and conversions when you position a person in your photograph so that they're actually looking at the Web text or button you want customers to notice.
Head-on images may look great on your business card, but playful use of the human gaze leads to better sales. This approach to product photography can help you to think more critically about the image you project to customers and prospects across all your communication channels.
Joe Taylor Jr. has covered personal finance and business for more than two decades. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. He recently completed a personal finance book entitled The Rogue Guide to Credit Cards; (Rogue Guide Books, 2012).
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