Siân T. Blog - Tog Tales
Your face, your brand, your business. Thinking about photos for your business.
It's January; time for fresh starts, new year's resolutions and the next step in building your business or taking your idea forward. In today's online world, you'll inevitably want to make the most of the opportunities to reach your potential customers that social media provides, and you may also be thinking about other ways of getting your business out there - everything from business cards to ads in local magazines, from flyers to billboards. What do all these have in common? They rely on photographs!
For starters you need a headshot (I can feel you cringing already!) However, people buy people and they like to know who they are buying from. Customers look for people they can relate to and make the judgement of whether you are trustworthy and worth their support at just a glance. So your headshot needs to communicate a lot of information very quickly. It needs to be appropriate to your business (no-one wants to hire a party entertainer if he's wearing a suit and tie and looking stern, but similarly no one wants to hire a lawyer in a tracksuit holding a beer!) It also needs to be clear and professional - a holiday snap isn't going to cut it! The eyes are indeed the windows to the soul, so make sure yours are visible and looking straight at the camera. Avoid sunglasses or large hats, both are associated with disguises and hiding one's identity for good reason. Look your customer in the eyes, it shows a confidence in your products or services, denotes honesty and helps people engage with you.
A good headshot is an investment you'll use again and again. Every social media channel needs one, if you're interviewed or featured in the press you'll be asked for one, your website needs an 'about me' section and that should feature your headshot. Bite the bullet and get it done - you won't regret it!
Once you've got your headshot it's time to think about what other images you'll need. Social media is image hungry so for most businesses it's not practical to use only professionally shot images. However, choosing to invest on some key professional shots will allow you to spread your posts across different types for maximum impact. Broadly speaking there are three types of social media post - the hard sell, the soft sell and the engager. Opinions differ about what proportion of each you should use and it probably depends on your business, but it's worth ensuring that you're covering all three bases - otherwise your posts may work against you, turning off customers rather that raising your stock with them.
The 'hard sell' is a direct message about a product or service, giving key details such as pricing, offers or unique features and gives a direct link to buying. This kind of post works best with a high quality professional image showing off your product at its very best.
The 'soft sell' is more informational. It doesn't directly ask someone to buy, but it talks about the product, its benefits, how people are using it, what people are saying. For this you can use client photos and testimonials (make sure you have their permission) or photos you have taken of the product in use or things associated with it.
The 'engager' is not designed to sell a particular things but rather to encourage the audience to identify with you, to talk to you and to share and promote you. This is where images of you or your staff work really well, as do images of your shop or offices or more unusual shots of manufacturing processes. Critically, people like to hear about you and why or how you do what you do. They enjoy feeling part of your inner circle, getting a glimpse behind the scenes or connecting with you on a personal level. Of course, we all have to draw a line between business and private lives - so work where you are comfortable and share what you feel is relevant.
For me, business photography is a collaborative process. We work together to get the images that will have the most impact for you and your business. I also work with website designers and marketing specialists to craft on-brand images that can be used time and time again, so justifying the investment in professional photography. I've often supported people to take their own photos as well; to keep the social media machine fed with great images. I hugely enjoy feeling part of your business, feeling that I am contributing to your success by helping you communicate what you do and what makes it special. I often share websites and social media for those I've worked with and frequently connect people with the companies I've photographed.
Small business is a small world, and supporting each other is what makes us strong and enables us to compete against the giants that inevitably exist in any line of work.
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