*“Don’t let nobody take care of your business better than you”
In the game of marketing the big brands are winning hands down.
They hire large marketing companies and/or specialist photographers to make their brands stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
So does that mean that the small business like you can’t compete in the visual stakes?
Of course not!
The internet has leveled the playing field.
Before the internet, for a small business to get its brand out to the marketplace could involve expensive marketing material, foot slogging or a reliance on others such as distributors to market their brand as well the other brands it had in its stable.
Don’t get me wrong these strategies still play a role.
But the reach of the internet is so vast and the entry cost so small.
And now instant feedback from targeted campaigns.
So for a you, without the marketing budget of some of the bigger brands, it’s a no brainer!
But, and there’s always a but.
Wherever we look online, its images that catch our attention so we have to create a visual depiction of the brand we are offering.
That’s where photography comes in.
There are thousands of images of products, services and other related subjects posted on to social media, websites, apps and online publications every day and in my humble opinion there are only a few that are memorable.
The majority are taken and published by consumers, who have no vested interest in producing photos of any great quality.
They are usually what could be called record images, that is a record of the wine drunk, the restaurant visited, the food eaten, the place visited etc.
Those that are likely to have the most impact on potential consumers are are produced by reviewers and few other industry players.
So don’t leave it to others to represent your brand. Take control!
So what’s a good image?
To make a brand stand out the image has to be usually (sometimes you can get lucky) well planned and memorable. It’s that last word “memorable” that’s so important.
Consumers will nowadays more than likely see a brand online before they see it physically.
A memorable image will help them remember it when it comes time to purchase your product in a store or online.
Composition, opportunity, technique and to a lesser extent, camera equipment play a part in getting the right ‘shot’.
Of course image alone is not purely responsible for that, product design, good reviews, interesting stories and reputation all play a part. But you can have a terrific product and great reviews but if the image is poor and almost indistinguishable it’s not providing any value.
So where should you put most of these images?
Well by far social media is has become the place to display and share photos.
So let’s take a look at the most popular and well known channels not in order of importance, as each one has its own individuality:
Instagram is a photo-editing mobile app that not only beautifully renders photos taken on Smartphones, it also has some powerful social sharing features.
Last year Instagram was the fastest growing social network on the planet and is evolving to be an image based Facebook (who by the way own Instagram).
In the purely visual stakes we have Pinterest which is focused on sharing things that are visually pleasing (both photographically and in video).
Images and videos are at the heart of the Pinterest experience. Because of the fact that Pinterest emphasizes pictures over text, it’s extremely important to have high-quality photos.
Then there is Facebook by far THE most popular website on earth. What’s more, the average Facebook user spends on average just under two hours per day on Facebook. The incredible viral nature of Facebook enables business’s to get in front of a huge audience
High quality and eye catching images go along way on Facebook
LinkedIn is the largest social network for business owners and professionals.
LinkedIn doesn’t generally market to “the general public”. LinkedIn allows a business to target a different demographic of business owners and professionals.
The not so sexy Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook. Whilst not quite as popular, it has two things going for it that other social media sites don’t.
If you have a Google+ page, then you can connect it to Google My business listing (formerly known as Google Places or Google Local).
What does that mean? Well guess who controls 80-90% of searches on the net? Yup, Google
Because of the way that high quality images are displayed on Google+, it’s no coincidence that one of it’s most active users are from visual medium industries like Photographers and Graphic designers.
Twitter has in the past been considered almost a text message service. Since it introduced the display of images in streams (i.e. without having to click on the link) a couple of years ago that’s all changed.
According to tests, tweets with images are 55% more likely to be shared or re-tweeted.
There are others of course, YouTube and Qzone (China’s answer to Facebook), have a huge number of users.
It goes almost without saying that today a website, which can highlight some great images is essential.
The cost of building a visually appealing website has dropped significantly over the last two or three years. In fact, those who are tech savvy build their own at very little expense.
Uploading images to any of the social media sites and a website is now a simple process that anyone using a computer can do.
So to recap:
The reality is that you as a small business need to ensure that the quality of your marketing images stand out.
That’s not to say that word of mouth, good reviews and on the ground marketing don’t work anymore. It’s just that we have become an image sharing society and any business looking to grow would want their images shared.
* James Brown, It’s A New Day
Do you agree? Are images that important for your business? Feel free to add opinions below. I would really like to hear them.