How to get ahead of your competition? Get good images

As a photographer and someone who has been involved in sales and marketing as a profession, I shake my head at the way some business’s view the use of images in marketing.

Because image is everything!!

I’ll say that again; “image is everything!!”

It’s no longer about what your product is, it’s now about what the product looks like and represents, and that means image.

To be fair I have seen some amazing imagery from some companies but in there are a lot that are pretty average.

Let’s take the wine industry (I’m a pretty sad wine enthusiast)
An out of focus, dimly lit picture of a bottle plonked on a dining table is just not going to encourage anyone to buy.
With some care given to background, lighting and props, the final image can reflect a sense of place, lifestyle and even culture and give a much needed professional feel to a website, for example, which all helps to sell wine.Card Farm Pinot Noir

Recently I attended a wine tasting that had little or no imagery available for the wines on tasting. The tasting was at a liquor store and was run by a distributor and the winemaker for this particular winery, yet amazingly the bottles were only seen when poured from.
Nowhere on the literature were there photographs of the winery, wines or anything else that may leave a lasting impression.
Unless I have my tasting notes or price list with me I wouldn’t recognise these wines were I to go into any other liquor store today.

Sadly, I find that this is the norm

There are 4 reasons why a business doesn’t invest in their marketing images

  1. Cost
  2. Time
  3. Lack of knowledge.
  4. Attitude that it ‘doesn’t matter’.

The first two, cost and time are understandable but lack of knowledge, with some motivation, is easily remedied.
There are plenty of resources both online and off line that can help the budget conscious business learn how to take good photographs.

However for anyone who thinks it doesn’t matter then think again!
Images are the new language. As at May 2014 (the last accurate report) 1.8 billion images were uploaded every day which is 30% higher than 2013!
It is now estimated that we will have exceeded the 2 billion per day by the beginning of this year.
In fact some estimators are saying that the number of images uploaded this year alone is more than the total of all previous years.

No longer are purchasing decisions based on sales copy alone.

Images are attracting attention and it’s never going to change back.

So you’ve got to get your potential customers attention and that’s where striking images that grab comes in.

What you shouldn’t do

If I produced wine, (I did think about it once but it seemed much less enjoyable than drinking it) I would want to control the image of all facets of my operation from the product to the winery to the location.
I hear of wineries having competitions to find the best image, usually on Facebook or Flickr, so that they can use it for marketing. Some may say that is a certain degree of control.
However I would challenge that view as the vast majority of photos generated won’t provide the image that is best suited to that particular winery, even if it’s a good image.
When you consider the effort and time to organise the competition and the cost of providing the prize, usually a case of wine, surely that energy would be better spent producing an image that conveys what the winery would like to show the world, rather settle for possibly the best of a bad bunch!

Celebrities now days are going to great lengths to protect and control their image, some of it a bit too zealously see An Open Response to Taylor Swift’s Rant Against Apple. They understand the power that the image now has and its potential to affect either positively or negatively their business and consequently their earnings.

What you should you do

Well in the above wine tasting example, some great images of the winery and its location.
At the beginning of the tasting they showed a YouTube video of the winemaker being interviewed and part of the footage was some amazing scenery next to the winery.
Images of that scenery (a desert landscape next to the Pyrenees in Spain) could have been on a cover for the tasting notes or large prints on pull up banners or posters could have been placed or hung around the room.
Then they could also have had some inventive and colourful images of the bottle and its label on the tasting notes.
And that’s just to start with.

Here’s 5 things to look for in your marketing images right now

  1. The biggest one is do they represent how you think your business should appear to others.
  2. Are they sharp i.e. no sign of unintended blurriness?
  3. Do they blow up to a reasonable size?
  4. Does it have impact?
  5. Is it memorable?
  6. Is your product clear and concise?


It’s your business and your product that are being represented.

No amount of text will compensate for a poor first impression

So just start by critiquing your images regardless of who created them.

So if I could leave you one simple message it’s this:

“A photograph shouldn’t be just a picture, it should be a philosophy”

So what do you think? Anything I’ve missed?

Please leave your comments below


Categories: Marketing and PhotographyTags: , ,

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