Need a guaranteed ROI – read on.
How many of the general public know that the beach/rolling countryside/urban environments they can see peeping through the window of that beautifully styled room designed to sell you a sofa, is in fact a well-lit drop-down sheet chosen from amongst the hundreds of window backgrounds the photography studio has in its storeroom?
Or indeed, how many realise that the particular beautifully proportioned room with not so much as a crumb or pet hair in sight, selling the dream of that sofa, has in fact just two walls, which are made from wood batons and has been shot in studio the size of a hangar, near Milton Keynes?
Photography for marketing has always been the very definition of smoke and mirrors, but with good reason. The plain truth is that images sell things.
We’re not just talking about the high-end mega-budget photography which sells the dream that our own living room will be magically transformed into a facsimile of the highly stylised room in the advertisement, if only we bought that sofa.
When you visit a certain High Street pub-restaurant chain, you will notice that there are images of certain dishes on the menu. This particular High Street pub-restaurant chain has realised that the meals featured in those images sell at twice the rate of other dishes on the menu.
No surprise then, that the meals that are now photographed and included in glorious technicolour are the meals which yield the highest gross margin.
One particular marketing trick from a few years ago, still makes us chuckle. In the windows of a particular fast-food outlet, you would see giant window posters promoting a particular offer or meal deal, the poster would show a scrumptious image of a perfectly prepared food item. But when you went inside there was no more point of sale for those dishes.
Once they had enticed you into the outlet, the job was done. You were then reliant on your own memory of the meal deal, keeping it in your mind through the queuing process and then being able to articulate it, when faced with the pressure of the till staff taking your order, knowing that there was a lengthy queue behind you, looking daggers at the back of your head.
The second reason was that the meal that was photographed so beautifully, was actually impossible to replicate by the hard-pressed kitchen staff, faced with a three-minute meal prep target. If you ate in the outlet, there was nothing visible to compare your limp looking dish with and if you took it away – well you were long-gone!
The digital smartphone revolution has made us all photographers and videographers, but it hasn’t made us good photographers and videographers – it has simply given us very powerful tools we can use or misuse to our heart’s content.
The latest smartphones have extraordinary photographic capabilities, the leading manufacturers understand that the camera spec is fundamental when customers are considering their new smartphone.
The bonus for business owners or marketers is that these products are eminently suitable for a range of photography shots. As an agency, you would expect us to be advocating the use of professional photography, but this is not the case. There is undoubtedly a time and a place for professional photography – when the subject matter demands it.
However, for other images, such as the humble pack-shot, shooting it yourself can be a viable option. But, it is really worth taking the time to set up the shot and shoot it correctly – there are countless on-line resources which can help you learn how this can be done. They will also teach you where your limits are and when it’s a good time to call in a professional photographer to get the results you need.
The quality and/or resolution of the images submitted to this very magazine by people who really should know better, is a constant thorn in its side. FYI – a blurry 50kb image shot on a wooden desk, with a keyboard poking in the corner, will not look great in print.
The story of the High Street pub-restaurant chain above, is a reminder to us all that there’s gold in them-there images. If appetising images of food can be used to sell high margin items at a faster rate, then why can’t the same be true in an on-line shop, e-newsletter or print catalogue for equestrian products?
And the magical marketing ROI? Well there are two. Firstly, learn where the HDR setting is on your smartphone and second? Buy a tripod for your smartphone and a few large pieces of white card, it will be the best fifty quid you’ll spend all year – trust us.