Note: I am very pleased to bring you this insightful guest blog entry written by Robyn M. Perrin, co-owner of Focal Flame Photography of Madison, WI.
Imagine your favorite childhood storybook. Now try to picture it without any illustrations. Not the same, is it? As a retailer, you are creating a story of your business for your customers to experience―but we humans are visual creatures, and it takes imagery to complete the narrative.
Enter photography. The power of a well-made photograph to connect, explain, and transcend is extraordinary. But photographs can do even more than that―they can actually help lighten the load for small businesses. Here are three ways that commercial photography can tell the tale of your retail store.
1. Photos build relationships.
Once upon a time, customers could walk to the corner market and find Mr. Johnson or Mrs. Miller behind the counter day after day. There was a familiarity and relationship in that setting―a familiarity that can sometimes be absent today, especially if your customers are as likely to find you online as on Main Street.
Photos of you and your employees bring that corner-market intimacy back. Whether displayed on your web site or framed on the walls of your store, showing a recently taken professional headshot of each staff member conveys friendliness and creates an instant connection. It allows easy recognition when customers need assistance. And it builds your brand image, demonstrating that you care about your employees―and by extension, your customers.
Professional headshots also integrate a small business owner's personal LinkedIn account, business website, and personal social media presence. As owner, you are an icon of your business―and this continuity deepens the association. Keep photos current, no more than two years old. Facial features, clothing styles, and hairstyles all change over time, and outdated images can be distracting. Let your staff headshots be a reflection of your commitment to customer service: energetic and fresh.
2. Photos tell a story quickly.
The old proverb "A picture is worth a thousand words" is very true. Photos can instantly communicate a great deal about your business' core values.
Visitors can assume your store welcomes diversity if the entry area is decorated with oversize photographs of children, teens, families and seniors from a variety of ethnicities.
Professional photos added to a Facebook page album titled "Services" can let a retail store visitor know about other offerings and perks such as gift registries, private events for small groups, individual consultations, or classes. Bookmarks with photos from your last benefit book drive and tucked in each new book purchase lets your patrons know they contribute to a larger community cause by shopping at your store.
And in every case, a photograph begins to resonate in a viewer's mind the moment their eye scans it, especially if the image has what advertisers refer to as "stopping power." Because they are nonverbal, photos convey meaning deeply and instantly.
The bottom line: photos can tell your small business or organization's story―fast.
3. Photos Increase Social Media Engagement
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter―social media platforms simply can't be ignored. They offer valuable two-way conversations with your customer base. And as consumers engage with brands, they do so through responses to photos more frequently than any other type of post. In hisarticle, "Optimizing Facebook Engagement―Text, Links, Photos, or Videos?" on Social Media Today, Morgan Arnold shares that photos provide the greatest ROI compared to other types of posts―almost triple the level of engagement compared to text alone. In a study conducted in May, 2012 tracking 8,000 posts by 100 well-known brands, Track Social found a photo received over 6,000 points (1 point awarded per like, 3 points awarded per comment) compared to slightly over 2,000 points on a text status. Simply put: photos rule!
In order to post fresh content on the web, whether it's a Facebook page or company web site, small business owners need a photo library showing their products and services. In just a few hours, a professional photographer can often compile an array of photos that you can draw on to promote social media engagement for many months.
Interested in learning more?
Visit the Focal Flame Photography website to read about two additional ways commercial photography can help your business grow. Sign up for a free e-newsletter for practical advice about visual storytelling for your retail establishment! With the help of photographs, the story of your business can be illustrated with beautiful authenticity to craft a tale that your customers will long remember.
Carol "Orange" Schroeder (with many thanks to Robyn for sharing her insights with you today)