With the increase of high-quality, easy to use, affordable digital cameras in recent years, photography has become an area of marketing that many people see as expendable.
Whether you are a startup or a well-established business, the cost of professional photography could prompt you to consider doing without it, especially when you could just take the photos yourself or use stock photos.
Yes, professional photography does cost money, as does any creative skill (our photography services cost in the region of £350 - £600 per day depending on the brief) but the impact it will have on the impression you make through your online and offline marketing materials will be immeasurable against taking photos yourself or using stock photos.
Here are just a few of the reasons why investing in professional photography should be a priority:
1. First impressions count
High quality photos will make your business stand out, enable you to show your potential customers your friendly staff, what you have to offer and what life is like at your business hotel / care home / play centre etc.
Consumers much prefer to see things for themselves and by looking at beautiful photos (and videos) they will be able to imagine themselves spending time at your establishment, words alone just don’t cut it any more.
Still not convinced? One of the biggest tech companies in the world, Airbnb, put professional photography at the heart of their business strategy very early on, recognising the difference it made in their listings being booked more often. If it’s good enough for them…
2. People buy from REAL people
I often find myself talking to business owners about stock photography. I should be clear that stock photography does have its uses, but for businesses, particularly hospitality businesses such as hotels and care homes, there will never be any substitute for real people in my opinion.
When people take the time to visit your website or request a brochure, it is because they want to find out more about your business. The best (and quickest) way for them to do this is by showing them actual photos of your premises, your team members and your products or services. It is also your opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors at a key point in the decision-making process.
3. Manage expectations and boost your reviews
It is easier than ever to hide behind a glossy website, but whether you run a hotel, care home or other physical business, at some stage customers will turn up on your doorstep and make an instant judgement. I’m a firm believer in giving people a consistent experience of your organisation from start to finish and the best way to do this is to let them experience your business before they arrive through photos and video content.
This will ensure their expectations are realistic and as such, they will give you more leeway during their stay, which will have a positive effect on the reviews you receive. So many reviews list what the guest expected against what was delivered – an easy problem to solve.
4. Cost v Shelf life
Another issue people have with professional photography is that photos could go out of date if staff / residents leave the organisation.
There are two ways to tackle this problem. Firstly, you could ensure that consent is in place beyond their employment so that the photos can be used even if the person has left. Secondly (and the one I’d recommend either way) is to organise regular updates of your photos.
This may cost you in the region of £1,000 per year to cover a couple of shoots, but it is a small price to pay for ensuring that your marketing materials are current and effective.
An additional suggestion here is not doing huge print runs that potentially leave you with thousands of brochures that are rendered unusable. You could opt for professionally designed downloadable pdf brochures or smaller print runs instead.
5. Nail your brief
By understanding why you want photography in the first place and how you’re going to use it, you can get your brief right and ensure you get the best bang for your buck.
By this, I mean asking yourself the following type of questions:
· What type of photos will look best on your website?
· Will you use landscape, portrait or a combination of both in your brochure?
· Are you going to focus on people or premises?
· Who is going to take part in the shoot? (make sure you have consent forms in place!)
We work closely with clients to develop briefs for our photographers and often request photos that include ‘open space’ where we will be able to place text when we come to use them in digital / social media marketing designs.