The Power Of Showing, Over Telling. Photography advice for Melbourne Small Business Owners.
What you miss, when all you do is tell:
It is pretty easy to create a webpage, a Facebook page, and an email account. How many emails do you get claiming a particular company will get you ranking as #1 on Google. How many of those emails do you just delete straight away?
Tell, tell, tell. Many businesses focus solely on the copy of their website or marketing tactics. They might have an About page with a chunk of text that says x, y, z, and then leave you to explore their other pages.
But how does this make you feel as a potential client when you come across a website like this?
It lacks personality, it does not inform fully. It is easy to read about a person or company. How many ‘Award Winning Vanilla Slice‘ signs have you seen outside bakeries with nothing to verify? How many ‘Australia’s Number 1 …..‘ claims have you seen? It is so easy to make statements. The challenge for these companies is backing them up and providing social proof.
For your personal brand, images are one piece of the puzzle that will help show your clients who you are, what your brand stands for, and why they can trust you. Even if it is just one image, your clients associate what you do, with you. A business becomes identified with a real person, with real skills, and who can then be associate with a family, bills to pay, and someone to make a meaningful connection with.
Why visuals are important:
People are searching, scrolling, killing time on their phones. Less people are picking up their Yellow Pages, and more people are searching on Google, asking for recommendations on Facebook, and reading reviews online.
Your visuals bring life to a page. Think about your online behaviour. If you are looking at a website on your phone, with huge chunks of text, and no images or design elements, are you inclined to read it? A lot of people skim through text, and images have the power of breaking up that text, while still informing the reader.
A headshot informs the reader who you are and your personal brand. Are you presenting yourself as friendly and welcoming, competent and trustworthy? It is important to use a high quality image that shows you in a suitable light to your ideal clients. Get inside your ideal clients head, and ask yourself how they picture an expert in your field.
I visualise a builder, business coach, and an accountant completely differently – in how they present themselves, where they work, and what would be professional for their respective fields.
It is all about playing up to what people expect of you, while maintaining your personal brand, and showing who you really are.
Showing, as social proof:
We understand that social proof can help sell. Going back to the ‘Award Winning Vanilla Slice‘ example, a simple solution would be to show the award alongside that statement – if that be a logo, an award name, a date. Even better, a photograph of the judging, the certificate next to the vanilla slice, a newspaper clipping or a photo of the owner or chef holding both their award and vanilla slice.
This goes for you, your business and your brand. You can say whatever you like. Anyone can do a quick online webinar, and suddenly claim to be an expert in that field. Similarly, you can say that you are a hardworking, trustworthy lawyer. But when you add your image, clients will actually get a feel for who you are. Show that you take your career seriously, show that you are putting your face to your business, and show clients your personal brand.
Furthermore, additional images for your personal brand could: show you at work; helping clients; you within in your workplace; or some behind the scenes style images. All of these types of images show your clients the very reality of your business. It is a way of providing social proof. It says: this is me, this is what I do, and I am showing you.
Images to create trust:
As much as you might not like it, people make judgements and they make them fast. With the convenience of googling, first impressions are vital. Making the wrong first impression can mean clients move onto someone else.
It of course isn’t just your images that form this first impression. Your entire website experience has to be positive. Great copy, great website design, modern, easy, effective. It goes for your marketing material too. Professionally designed, high-impact marketing material is going to go further than a self made A4 word document with a basic offer on it.
Your headshots and personal branding images can go a long way in creating trust and showing likeability. Sacrificing quality in this area can have a negative impact, and I have written more about that here.
The downfall of no images or stock images:
As we have discussed, images show branding and personality, they help provide social proof, form first impressions, and are a secondary way of ‘telling’. It is important to make sure your website, online pages, marketing material and social media have images. Just having text becomes too overwhelming, and too boring.
“So why not just use stock images?”
Stock images are impersonal.
While they might make the experience more visually pleasant for the viewer, they come off as inauthentic. Using stock images makes you look the same as everybody else. There is nothing personal, and it certainly does not capture ‘you‘ or your personal brand. Investing in professional photography for your business allows you to curate images that directly relate to you, your workplace and effectively communicate this to your clients.
I have also never understood the use of stock images that show professional team members. Who are these people? They’re certainly not you, but does the client know this? Look at the stock images of photographers – if I used one of these images on my about page, it would have a negative impact when my clients met me to discover it wasn’t me in the image, and it wasn’t my studio either. So instead, I use actual images of me – one of those is standing at my studio. It’s a lot more personal.
If you use a stock image of a group of team members, in a clean, modern office, when in reality you are a team of one, working from home – what does this tell the client when they go to visit you? It creates a sense of distrust – you’re showing the client something different to reality.
There is nothing wrong with working from home, and nothing wrong with being a team of one. That sums up my business! Instead of using a stock image, show your clients you, as your team of one, at your home office, or a local cafe where you meet you clients. Always be authentic.
The power of showing, not telling:
There is a certain power of being able to show not tell. Anyone can make a statement, but that doesn’t mean people will believe it. Using images of you, of your business, showing your personal brand and your expertise is all a way of showing rather than just telling.