The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” has never been truer, given consumers’ ever-shortening attention spans. If you’re a business owner, it’s extremely important to understand that including compelling images in your marketing materials — promotional photography — will go a long way toward ensuring your target audience pays attention to your message and ultimately chooses to purchase your product or service.

Wonder what the definition of promotional photography is? That’s easy: “Photos that show your product in the best light and make your services appear tangible to your customers.” You should know from your own experience that great photo content makes any website, brochure, or other media look more professional — and it’s great for social media, too, where attention spans are miniscule.

When embarking on a marketing project, you may consider using stock photography to secure the images you need. We don’t recommend going that route, for a number of reasons:

  • It’s usually obvious when stock photography has been used, since the images are generic and certainly don’t represent your unique business.
  • You run the risk of using images other businesses — even your competitors — have chosen for their marketing materials, making you look unoriginal and perhaps even lazy.
  • You can pay a pretty hefty price for securing the images you want, but it’s not likely you’ll get a significant — or any — ROI by using “canned” photos.

What’s a better option? Choose custom promotional photography that uniquely showcases your products and services — seamlessly complementing your copy and supporting your message.

Separate Yourself from the Pack

Just making the decision to invest in promotional photography as a way to highlight your business offerings puts you head and shoulders above those who prefer to take a shortcut by using stock photographs. It’s not difficult or time-consuming to go the custom promotional photography route — and the benefits are well worth it.

Your biggest challenge will be finding the right photographer, but you’re in luck if you work with a full-service marketing agency that has someone on staff filling that role. There’s an art to taking compelling promotional photographs, so working with someone who has experience in the business world is a must. A skilled photographer will not only be proficient in critical areas like lighting and editing, but will have plenty of creative ideas to really set your business apart and tell an interesting story through photos.

Make Choices That Work for You

Once you’ve decided to engage a professional photographer to take promotional photos for you, one of your first choices will be deciding whether you want to shoot in studio or on location. If your images will be limited to headshots and product shots, it may work out well to use the photographer’s studio, but if you want to feature your facilities, showroom or offices — or use the great outdoors as a backdrop, then you’ll require an on-location photo shoot.

Another choice you have relates to whether to use your own people in your promotional photography or hire actors. There are a number of pros and cons for each option:

Using Your Own People

  • Pros: Gives your team visibility with potential customers, is “real,” doesn’t add to the budget
  • Cons: Team members may be camera shy/uncooperative or not photogenic, takes time out of their work day

Hiring Actors

  • Pros: You can choose the physical qualities you desire, you’ll be working with people who have photo shoot experience
  • Cons: Is “fake,” does add to the budget, doesn’t support relationship-building with your actual team

Your photographer is a good resource to help you make the choice that will work best for your purposes.

The Takeaway

It’s really not a question of whether you need promotional photography as part of your marketing efforts — but how you want to incorporate it. You’ll be selling yourself short if you don’t take advantage of the power of well-crafted images as a sales tool — because your potential customers want to “see” what you can do for them.

Also, perhaps this should be obvious, but because your promotional photography must be crystal clear, properly lit and well staged, you don’t want to use images that aren’t taken by a professional such as iPhone photos. It’s almost worse to have bad photos in your marketing materials than none at all.

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