By Kiar Olson, Big Nerd at Kiar Media. An Interactive/Marketing company based in De Pere, WI.
As seen in the March 6, 2017 Business News, NEW edition.
From Manufacturers to Realtors, High Quality Photos Sell Themselves and You Don’t Need a Genie to Pull It Off
“Quick, I need to send a prospect a photo of that last job we did! Does anyone have one I can use?” a typical salesperson asks. “Um, I think I may have one that I took on my cell phone somewhere” is probably the answer you’ll hear most often.
No photo found. Poof, sale lost. Oh, the humanity!
While today’s cell phones are a far cry from my trusty old Palm Treo from 2003, with a whopping image size of 640×480 and a lens as clear as a peeled grape, they do not compare to a dedicated camera.
In my daily magic carpet ride through the work day, I try to help businesses put their best foot forward as we define their marketing goals and how to achieve them. The most common problem I see is that for most companies, they are so concerned with delivering a top quality product that they don’t make the time to plan for their own internal betterment with good photos of their products or services. It’s easy to see how something as simple as taking a photo of a completed job can go to the wayside.
Sometimes cost can be a factor. How can a business justify spending money on a decent camera? Well, there are many great cameras out there that are super user friendly that won’t break the bank. When you look at the cost of a GoPro for $400 or a DSLR for $900 versus losing a prospective job, the cost really seems negligible.
For example, I work with several manufacturers who build some amazing technology for industries all over the world. While some of the equipment is proprietary and photos are not allowed to be used outside of the plant, others can be used for self promotion. As a matter of fact, you would be surprised how many companies would love the free press that goes along with their product image being used.
This does not just stop at manufacturers, however. Even realtors, restaurants, construction companies and other types of businesses can benefit from great photos. There is nothing worse than low light cell phone photos of food or a house you are interested in. After all, photos are not just for the corporate brochure anymore. You have to factor in website usage and social media as outlets for great photos.
Here are some suggestions that will help justify the cost and produce a deliverable that can be used by many people in a company.
- Make taking a photo of the finished job part of the work ticket. This allows manpower to be used as part of each job. Adding 10 minutes into a job is easier than calling a customer and seeing if you can get in their place of business to take a photo at a later date.
- Assign one person as the staff photographer. You would be surprised how many people love taking photos and adding this responsibility to their job may just give them a little more satisfaction in the workplace.
- Create a photo database all employees can easily access. There are plenty of photo sharing websites out there that you can require an username and password for that have great sorting and organizing capabilities. The best part is a lot of them are free to use. Another option is to create a folder on your server that uses a unique folder structure that includes the job number and client name. That way anyone looking for a particular job can easily search for it.
- Allow your photos to be shared with your clients. Since getting good images is not an easy task, providing a photo on completion can be a great way for customers to see the end results and also use them internally for their own sales and marketing.
Instead of throwing you to the lions, I can recommend a few good camera solutions that can fit your business needs.
- The GoPro Hero 4 or 5 is a great choice for both photos and videos. They are small, easy to use, and produce great images and videos. Plus they have some amazing image stabilization. The Hero Session models are a little cheaper and smaller, but at the cost of battery life. You can find a GoPro at any local electronics store or online for under $300 depending on the model.
- Consumer DSLR cameras with a decent all purpose lens such as a Canon EOS Rebel T5, for around $399, or the Nikon D3200, for the same price, will not only shoot great high resolution images but will also shoot outstanding HD video at 30fps.
- Prosumer DSLR cameras bring up the quality quite a bit more and offer a lot more controls and better image quality, but they do tend to cost more as well. This is probably where you want to go if you are going to be shooting a lot of photos and videos regularly. I like the Canon EOS 70D with 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 STM lens and have shot broadcast video with it as well as a lot of still images. The Nikon D7100 with 18-140mm lens is also a great choice for those of you who are Nikon fans. These will cost about $999 to $1300 depending on configuration and packages available.
- Invest in a GOOD tripod. Don’t buy the cheapest tripod you can find, but instead look for one that matches the type of work you will be shooting. If you are going to be running up and down a lot of stairs and ladders, a nice lightweight carbon fiber model will do nicely. If you are shooting more video, look at a tripod with a fluid head and an optional wheel base. Trust me on the wheels. They are a life saver.
- Now you will need some decent photo and video editing software. There are so many choices out there that I will leave this to you to research a little bit. I use Adobe Photoshop CC for all of my image editing and either Adobe Premiere CC or Apple Final Cut Pro X for video editing, but realize they are a bit more expensive for someone who is just dabbling wants to shell out. Most cameras come with some software included, and since it’s free, try it out. You can always upgrade.
This should get you started on your journey to providing your marketing and sales team with great images and videos. I have found that paying a few extra dollars up-front can save you big headaches later on. The main goal is just to have a really good internal image and video library that can be used when the need arises. After all you don’t want to rub a lamp and wish you had a great photo. Because as we all know, you need to be careful what you wish for. You just never know what you’ll get.