Remember when we were children and wanted to buy something? We had to physically GO to the store. It seems almost surreal in today’s Amazonic reality, but that was reality not too long ago.
Let’s say you wanted to buy a cool T-shirt that all the other cool kids would want. So you went from store to store, WALKING, in search of the perfect T-shirt. You 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, asking you what you were looking for. After listening to you carefully he told you he had just the right T-shirt for you. He then proceeded to walk over to a hidden shelf and pull out the most awesome, perfect T-shirt you have ever seen.
What are the chances that you would have gone back to this store? Most likely, you would have made this YOUR store. This was back in the day when small business owner’s visual brand was visible.
Today the small business owner's brand gets lost in the online shopping world. Window displays were replaced by web sites, and now online is the FIRST PLACE where a potential client meets a small business. Online has replaced the store front; the place where the small business owner can intrigue (creative window display), connect on a personal level (ask what are you looking for?) and create a call to action (“I have the perfect Tshirt for you!”).
Unfortunately so many small business owners are unaware of their visual branding power. They spend so much money on SEO to bring traffic to their web sites, but once the potential client lands on the web site – those 15 seconds a potential client decides whether to stay or click away – nothing is there to get them to connect and stick around.
There's not enough there to make them want to know more, see more – and ultimately shop. What’s worst is, many times this thoughtless “let me just stick this photo on my web site, it didn’t cost me anything and looks kind of pretty” visual branding can literally turn potential clients away.
It’s because these photos don’t really show who you are.
Nobody really knows what you do, or understands the magnitude of gifts that you offer, the services that you provide, and the miracles that you make happen for your clients every day. But it is easy to fix. Here are five top tips to creating relevant, intriguing, emotionally moving photographs that will help your business succeed:
Tip #1 - Listen to your heart
Paul Tillich said that “the first duty of love is to listen." If you want to send a clear message to your clients, clarify first with yourself some key facts such as what are you selling? Why are you selling it? Who are you selling it to? Once you are clear about your “business being," it much easier to figure out photographs that represent it well.
Tip #2 – Google your business
Now that you understand which photograph you want to represent your business, see which image comes up in a relevant Google search. These are the pictures potential clients see first when they Google your business. Are these images you want to be associated with?
Tip #3 – From scratch or re-birth?
From your newly acquired perspective check out the images you currently have on your web site. Do your images do you justice?
Decide if you want to keep a few, and just revamp your site with more relevant, intriguing, action creating photographs. Or would you like to drop all the photos on your site and start from scratch? Either way, you should have a solid reason why you are keeping a photograph. Explain to yourself how this photograph is helping promote your business. If you have convinced yourself – the photo stays.
Tip #4 – Which photographs WILL work for your business?
Now that you figured out which photographs don’t work for you, it is time to decide on the photographs that will create a call to action for potential customers brought to your site by SEO. Which photographs will make them want to connect with you? In the Personalized Image Bank process I break down the image bank to three defined photographic areas. These three areas together create a complete visual of your business story. They are the professional portrait, the atmosphere shots and the scene captures. The atmosphere shots for example, depict the environment you work from (where your business is located). What this does is create a visual connection for the client, so when they walk into your business they feel comfortable, like they were there before. This familiarity raises the trust a new customer feels towards the business, which in turn encourages moving forward to do business together.
Tip #5 – Be relevant –Today your web site is your store front’s window display.
Make sure you stay current by updating your web site every time there is a change in your business. If an employee leaves, or a new employee is hired, update it. If your business moved location, or if you painted your office walls purple, update it. If you started selling a whole new product line – any of these changes need to appear on your web site.
And a personal request from me – please ensure your portrait is current. You want clients to recognize you as soon as they walk into your business. If the portrait on your web site does not look like you any longer, it is time to replace it, as this can create trust issues for a customer who may wonder what else you may be hiding…
About the Writer
Rinat Halon, previously Walt Disney Imagineers In House Photographer, started researching the power of a photograph while working on her personalized honors degree from The Ohio State University in Photography & Visual Merchandising ,where she wrote the thesis “The Influence of photographic Images on Brochure Appeal for the Family Financial Management Program” (May 2001). For the past 17 years she has been photographing internationally portraits, weddings and magazine lifestyle. She started working on creating Personalized Image Bank™ for small businesses 6 years ago, creating proof of sustainability for this service. Recently she was accepted into the We Venture entrepreneurship program, where she is working on scaling the PIB service and product. Her goal is to create a new, personalized, affordable, visual branding option for small business owners worldwide. For more about the Personalized Image Bank CLICK HERE. To apply to qualify for the FREE Personal Styling Session for your small business visual branding CLICK HERE.