And Where & How to Use Them
There’s a lot of bad marketing circulating around out there – and you know what all of it has in common (besides – likely – poor design, lack of target market research, and missing call-to-actions)? Unpleasant imagery. We know what you’re thinking… “photography costs a fortune!” – but that’s not always the case. And, what costs even more than any photo is losing customers over a bad one. There are ways to use good photography on your marketing without breaking the bank. Today, we’re going to explain why photography is so important for your company’s marketing, how you can get and use good photos, and, if need be – tips for (carefully and creatively) shooting your own.
Why Quality Photography is Important
Like we said above, losing customers to a bad photo or photos can be very costly. A not-so-great photo can make or break any marketing piece or campaign and deter customers from ever contacting your company. Visuals are a huge part of what we choose to purchase and where it’s from. When advertising with only speech or text, customers only remember 10% of what they see or hear, but, when advertising with imagery, they remember an impressive 65%. Quality photos appeal to customer emotions, and are intended to trigger specific thoughts and feelings. So, make sure your imagery is eye-catching, impactful, relevant, informative, and realistic.
The right photos can be used in several areas – from postcards and flyers, to social posts and website banners. And it’s not like you can only use a great photo once. So, if you think about all the places a good photo can go, it’s worth the investment to get it.
Lastly, photography is a universal language – so no matter who’s seeing them, if your photos are informative and well-shot, potential customers will be able to understand and relate to the intended message, whether they speak English, Spanish, or Japanese. It’s best to think of photography as one of your main points of communication with your customers, because, well…it really is. Sometimes, it’s the first form of communication they get from your company altogether.
How to Obtain Quality Photos & Use Them in Your Marketing
If you’re not taking your own photos or utilizing a professional photographer, there are a ton of options out there to get great photography at varying prices. Websites like Pexels, Unsplash, Freepik, and Pixabay provide decent, royalty-free, commercial-use stock images – free of cost. But, make sure to use these wisely and always check the fine print. Some photography sites will want you to give credit to the photographer in some way, or use the image only under certain circumstances.
If you’re willing to pay a bit more for higher marketing ROI, stock photo packages can be purchased on sites like GettyImages, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and others. You have the option to purchase a few individual photos – but that can get costly. We’d recommend going with one of the free sites above, or, if you have more photo needs, getting a plan that, for example, gives you 10 photos a month at a lower package price.
If you do hire a photographer, you have a leg up on other companies. Why? Because experienced photographers know what to look for when it comes to selling products. They have an eye for detail, know when it’s best to add something or take something out of the frame, and can edit your photos to perfection.
With a professional photographer, we’d recommend a one-time photoshoot (if possible) to cut costs and photograph all of the things you’re hoping to capture – whether that’s your whole staff and office, your product catalog, or an event. We’d also suggest really planning ahead – not only to tidy up the area and make your subject look great, but to make sure you photograph everything you need to, and that you don’t run over-time.
If You Have to Take Your Own Photos, Here’s How…
It’s not the end of the world to have to take your own photos, since, these days, almost everyone has a mini professional camera right in their pocket. But just because we have better cameras doesn’t mean we have the skills of an experienced, well-versed photographer, or know the best settings and angles to get the best shot. Yet, with a bit of research and effort, we can take some great product photos that will do the trick. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when photographing your offerings:
Camera Awareness: You don’t have to read a manual to get to know whatever camera you’re working with, but, the more expensive and intricate the camera, the more time you should take to practice your skills. Have a bit of fun and experiment before doing an actual photoshoot with your products. Make sure you understand the effects and settings available to you and what will present your products best.
Camera Angle: There are a ton of ways to take your photos, but where you place the camera will help you tell whatever story you’re trying to get across. So, think about what makes your product look eye-catching and unique, and how it can best be framed to show its qualities. Avoid angles with too much slant, that are too close up, or that blur the wrong areas.
Detail: Before taking your photo, take note of the little things. Is the area clean to emphasize the product or focus? Does the subject look its best? Is the photo realistic?
Background: Almost always, you’ll want your subject’s background to be neutral and not in focus. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s the safest bet to make sure your subject is in focus and is the center of attention. If your office is bright and colorful, it’s okay to have that as the background for staff photos. Just make sure it’s not so busy that it’s distracting from the subject.
Color & Lighting: When adding objects around your subject or creating some sort of background, make sure the color of your focus pops. If need be, make some color edits to your photography using Photoshop, Lightroom, VSCO, or a similar photo editing platform. But – don’t go crazy. Keep your photo looking realistic and authentic. Additionally, take note of the lighting. Feel free to get fancy and purchase professional lighting – but there’s often no need to. Natural lighting can produce great outcomes when it comes to photography.
Context & Scale: Especially for product photography, it’s always important to offer a sense of scale and context. Instead of only showing the subject on a white background, also show the product in a room, on a table, next to a person, or even being used by a person. This will help people “fill in the gaps” and understand the sizing of the product.
File Size: Pay attention to the sizes of your photos when taking them and uploading them. Make sure they’re not too small that they look blurry and pixelated, but also be sure that they’re not so large that they affect load times and user experience.
Authenticity: We’ve already brushed the surface on this one – but it’s so important that it can’t be said too many times. Make sure your photography’s an accurate, authentic depiction of your offerings. There’s nothing worse than getting excited over a product you see online, only to be disappointed by its appearance upon purchasing.
Need help finding the perfect photo, or ready to take these practices and put them into great, effective marketing? Contact Strata.
With a Combination of Direct & Digital Marketing (and the Right Partner)
Maybe you’ve heard about the paper shortage, or maybe you’ve experienced it first-hand. Either way, it’s something you should know about, as it’s seemingly becoming a bigger issue in our field day by day. But, before we sound all doom and gloom, we do have good news. Although it’s a current issue we’re facing, there are ways to combat it and work around it. In this blog, we’ll walk you through what exactly is causing the shortage, what it means for us (and you), and how we all can continue business as (almost) usual.
What’s Happening with the Paper Shortage?
So, what’s really going on? Well, there are many shortages going on right now – primarily due to all of the craziness that’s ensued over the past few years. The pandemic has been the primary factor in most shortages, from toilet paper to manufacturing products, and everything in between. Something else that’s suffering? Lumber, and in turn – you guessed it – paper.
Back in 2020, the demand for paper dropped by “up to 75% in some segments” due to drops in education and office space usage. Because of this, “paper mills reduced or curtailed production…which caused inventory to drop to levels which have not been seen previously.”
More recently, there’s been a “convergence of Canadian lumber tariffs, increase in demand for home remodeling and building of homes brought on by the pandemic, and hiccups in supply related to transportation.” From home projects to home purchases, we’re now using a lot of wood. More wood demand has called for changes in processes for these previously idle lumber suppliers, which has slowed production – and even worse, transporters impacted by Covid-19 risks has made for fewer available drivers to carry out shipments from mills and shipping ports.
Generally, one thing has led to another, causing a domino effect that’s triggered lumber prices to skyrocket, and has disrupted several industries.
What Does This Mean for Marketers & Print Projects
Yes, the paper shortage is concerning, but it doesn’t make print and direct mail marketing impossible or any less effective. With that said, don’t go overboard. Be aware of the materials you’re using and try to keep a close eye on the balance of supply and demand. While the lack of resources is a hurdle, the shortages are actually giving printers and marketers an opportunity to get creative with project execution by combining print with digital and trying new outreach possibilities.
How Can We Combat the Shortage?
There are several ways to work around the current hurdles we’re facing. The first? Using more digital technology wherever possible (and effective) – like QR codes, for example – to cut back on the paper needed to communicate a message or tell a story. Not only can QR codes and PURLs, or other tools help you use less paper, but they can help you more effectively track, monitor, and enhance your campaign. You can also try supplementing your multiple direct mail touches with other tools like digital ads and emails. A multichannel approach is always more impactful than a single channel, anyway.
Next, look into making your mailers, flyers, and other print marketing materials more cost effective by using a smaller paper weight, or stand out in the mail with a smaller but more uniquely shaped piece.
Lastly, look to work with a company with paper buying power and ample experience. They’ll be aware of the current issues, and will understand what’s best for your company’s marketing needs.
When it comes to shortages of any kind, remember to be patient and plan ahead. The paper shortage most likely won’t be around forever, but the more flexible you can be, the more you can mitigate the issue. After reading this, we hope you’re feeling a bit more knowledgeable of the current shortage as well as what you can do to combat it. If you’re interested in learning more about how Strata’s working through the shortage with our client (and on our personal projects), or are looking to work with us on your next multichannel marketing campaign, feel free to reach out.