A focussed approach to photography

Around 68% of people buy based purely on the perception of your product and service. Take time to think about that, that’s a big number and it’s an even bigger number when you consider that in most cases you are not there personally to influence this perception in any manner or form.

In most of our cases we will not be there to talk the clients through the benefits of our products. We won’t be able to show off the quality or let them feel the materials used in the products construction. We won’t be able to point out the uniqueness of a service we provide.

To counter this we are going to rely on a photograph to grab their attention and intrigue them enough that they are going to bother reading what we are trying to tell them about what we are offering.

To put it another way, it’s the difference between them simply flipping the page in the magazine or throwing away the brochure without reading it.

So much rides on the photograph being able to talk for you and being able to give what you are offering a voice, so why then do so many companies simply go with the cheapest photography they can find?

Maybe this will shed some light on the subject…

I have recently been doing a lot of market research to try answer that question myself. The results have been very interesting and I will share some of  these with you by using an offering I have put together as an example.

Let’s take a look at the restaurant industry.

Recently we have seen many unexpected closures of some very good restaurants and the question that needed to be asked was why, what was it that lead to some surviving and some closing down.

There are factors like, food, atmosphere, service and management that definitely played a role but one thing that kept coming up time and time again was marketing. In general many of the restaurants I talked to or studied had no marketing, bad marketing or were simply taking a shot gun approach to marketing.

Some restaurants were making good use of platforms like Facebook and social media, some had no means of advertising other than hoping that you told your friends about them, some had made attempts but were failing miserably and others were flooding the market with material and discount vouchers that was costing them a fortune and bringing little profit back into the business.

IMO options like Groupon only benefit guys like Groupon and they will get you clients who are only there for the cheap meal. Personally I also think is conveys an element of desperation and personally I believe that you should be proud enough of what you are offering that you shouldn’t need to cheapen it.

The biggest mistake that is often made when looking to promote a restaurant is most probably the most obvious one.

Ask someone to take photographs of your restaurant.

To really succeed you need to turn your restaurant into a destination that people will be drawn to and to do this the photography needs to illuminate and focus on the factors that make the business extraordinary and unique in the market place.

Trust me this isn’t an easy thing because identifying what makes you unique can be quite difficult but it’s the single most crucial step in the process and I have made this an integral part of the offering I have developed. I would highly recommend getting someone who specialises in this to help.

Once you have identified what the unique factors of your business are, then it’s easy to put a shot list together but there needs to be more, what do you do with the images once you have them?

Some restaurants planned to put them on their menus, well that’s really not going to be very useful as they need to get more feet through the door and images on the menus are not going to do that.

Others said they will put them on their website and again that’s not going to do much because in general, unless someone is specifically looking for your website, you have more chance of winning the lottery than them finding you.

Getting the word into the market place  has to be part of the plan and you need to be looking at things like basic SEO (search engine optimisation) for your website and maybe even getting some bloggers to help you spread the word.

Finally the penny dropped…

After going through all of this I figured out why companies are going for cheap photography and in many cases are shooting themselves in the foot.

To pull off a successful marketing plan, the photography will have to be of the highest standard and great professional photographers know the value of their work.

Without a focused approach you are going to be shooting a lot more than you need to and that’s going to cost a lot more than it needs to.

To put it simply, many people are simply shooting too much of the wrong thing which costs more money than it needs to and as a result the rest of the marketing be it expensive printing, fancy websites etc. fails to deliver the returns that you are expecting.

Once you have your plan, you need to find a photographer who will sit down with you and help you figure out how to make it happen without compromising  what you were trying to achieve when you started out.

I have kept this as brief as I could because I can tend to waffle a little and I am allowed that indulgence as I am a photographer, not a copy writer. What is important to note is the same approach needs to be taken with and applies to any business that is looking for marketing and the single most important component is identifying the unique selling point.

If any restaurants are interested in seeing what I have put together you are welcome to contact me and in your case the offer has also been designed to really minimise your risk. I am more than happy to make time to sit down with you and share what we have identified.

For the rest of the businesses out there, take a look at your offering, figure out what makes it unique and then seriously think about whether the photography you have is giving it the voice it needs otherwise it could actually be costing you far more than you think.

2 Comments

  1. Neal Tosefsky July 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Surely it comes down to budget and what, in this case a restaurant, can spend. It would be the same as buying a car. Sure I want a big expensive Audi, but I can only afford a lesser model like a VW, so that’s the route I take. Isn’t that the case?

  2. admin July 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    To some extent yes but budget vs. spending less money and not getting business because of poor photography need to be carefully weighed up. Unlike bying a car, the photography is an investment aimed at bringing you business and quite often shooting less and making it count is better than shooting more.

    One powerful image will often have a far greater impact than 20 average shots.

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