Remember when we were children and wanted to buy something? We had to go to the store, physically. It seems almost surreal in today's Amazon-shipped reality, but this was reality not too long ago.
Let's say you wanted to buy a cool T-shirt - the one that all the other cool kids had. You went walking from store to store in search of that perfect T-shirt. You even checked out window displays before deciding to go into a store. You walked into all the known chain stores but couldn't find what you were looking for. Then you saw a small store across the street--one you never entered before. It had a window display that attracted you to walk over, and you were welcomed by the store owner considerately asking what you were looking for. After listening carefully, they pulled out that perfect T-shirt for you. What are the chances you would be a repeat customer? More than likely, this would have become your favorite store. That is how things worked back when small business owners' brands were visible.
According to a recent study, in the past four years, the human race has created 90 percent of the content that has ever been created. That is an unbelievable number of images. Today, the small business owner's visual brand gets lost in the magnitude of junk content, or what I like to call "visual white noise."
A website has replaced the storefront, and the first place a potential client meets a small business is online. The Internet is where the small business owner (SBO) can create intrigue (attractive window display), connect on a personal level (considerately ask what are you looking for), and create a call-to-action ("I have the perfect T-shirt for you!") with a potential client.
Unfortunately, so many small business owners are unaware of their visual branding power. SBO spend so much money on SEO to bring traffic to their websites, but once the potential client lands on the site - those 15 seconds dedicated to deciding whether to stay or click away - there is nothing there to connect the potential client emotionally. Nothing intrigues them to want to know more. What's even worse? Many times, the thoughtless "let me just stick this photo on my website, it didn't cost me anything, and it looks kind of pretty" visual branding can turn potential clients away.
It's because these photos don't really show who you are, what you do, and the miracles you make happen for your clients every day.
Here are my top 5 tips on creating relevant, intriguing, emotionally moving photographs that will help your business attract your target market:
- Listen to your clients - Paul Tillich said, "The first duty of love is to listen." If you want to send a clear message to your clients, clarify first what they want to buy from you. Once you are clear about your "business being," it's much easier to figure out what photographs represent it well to your target audience.
- Google your business - See which images come up in a relevant Google search. These are the pictures potential clients see first when they Google your business. Are these the images with which you want to be associated?
- Update - From your newly acquired perspective, check out the images you currently have on your website. Do the images do you justice? Decide if you want to keep them or revamp your site with more relevant, intriguing, action-creating photographs.
- Which photographs will work for your business? Now it is time to decide on the photographs that will create a call-to-action for your target clients. In the Marketing Mastery System™, I break down the process to three defined photographic areas. Together, these three areas create a complete visual brand of your business story. Meeting your "business storefront" online creates a level of comfort for potential clients, so when they walk into your business, they feel they know you and will be more inclined to doing business with you. "We only want to link up with people we like, admire, and trust," as Warren Buffet wisely said.
- Be relevant -Today, your website is your store front's window display. Make sure you stay current by updating your site every time there is a change in your business. And here is a personal request from me: Please, ensure your personal portrait is current. You want clients to recognize you as soon as they walk in the door. If your headshot does not look like you any longer, it is time to replace it, because this can create trust issues for a customer who may wonder what else you may be hiding.
Rinat Halon, Photo Marketing Strategist, started researching the power of a photograph while working on her personalized Honors degree from Ohio State University in Photography & Visual Merchandising, where she authored the thesis, "The Influence of Photographic Images on Brochure Appeal for the Family Financial Management Program" (May 2001). Her resume also includes being the Walt Disney Imagineers' In-House Photographer. She started working on the Marketing Mastery System™ seven years ago, helping small businesses bring their message to market through relevant visuals. For more about the Marketing Mastery System™ or to apply to qualify for a free consultation for your small business visual branding, visit rinathalon.com.