Photography for Content Marketing That Sells
While the era of the phone/digital camera might suggest that anyone can take a picture, when it comes to producing photography that sets you apart, talent and experience are what top consumer marketers rely on.

That, and strategy.

Knowing what you want your customers to think and feel about your brand allows a professional photographer to create that special "look" just for you.

Whether it's the latest Alexander Wang Autumn/Winter Campaign, a Cerrone diamond ring lit with precision and appearing on its own 10 times the size of real life or a Baker-Jacques Garcia Sofa in an aspirational home setting, photographs have helped customers fall in love with products and brands since the beginning of the new marketing era.

The ability to produce imagery that works isn't just something that can be learned. Sure, there are technical skills that anyone can acquire from YouTube or Google, however, like anything creative that is good, talent is at the heart, right next to experience.

Imagine expecting an amateur to produce works that took Picasso 30 years of "on the job training" to come to. The deliberation of highlights and shadows, camera angle and approach, juxtaposing product and props and not least of all the final output requirements - it's all of these skills that are the difference from "Taking" a photograph and "Making" one.

It's about understanding the expectations of outcome and ensuring it's deliverability. And right now, as we ride the crest of the digital marketing age, photography is one of the most important content tools marketers can use.

Why? Because if it's strategically thought-out and executed, it can communicate information and emotion quickly. It gets the customer across the line.

With attention spans these days being shortened due to ever more content being offered to customers at a faster pace, "speed to mind" is all-important.

Google terms when customers have to make a decision as the "Zero Moment of Truth" so the quicker you get your message across the more likely your product or service will be chosen ahead of your competitors'.

Whether a marketing message's distribution is through email, website, social, YouTube or, quell horreur, even print, imagery makes the difference.

Over the past few years, U.S furniture retailer, Restoration Hardware has migrated its business from essentially "hardware" to mid-range furniture. At the same time its catalogues have changed direction from being directories of small products bought by direct mail to 700+ page "look books" of beautifully styled furniture shots driving to store and to online.

We are now seeing Nordstrom use imagery posted on Pinterest to create interest in-store. Those products which receive the most Pins are tagged with a red Pinterest logo "P". What a great way to close the loop between social and bricks and mortar!

Unlike many social marketers who choose to tread lightly, Nordstrom creates most of the Pins themselves, driving to their eCommerce store. Whatever one thinks of this tactic, its 4.4 million Pinterest followers are proof enough of its acceptance as are its 2.4 million likes on Facebook, also used with a product-drive-to-ecommerce focus.

Online flash sale retailer One Kings Lane raises the bar with its simply but well-styled product shots to drive customers to their online offering. Where once all that was used was a simple deep-etched (silhouette) image now there's the degree of care and attention to detail that we have been used to seeing with bricks and mortar competitors such as Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware.

One Kings Lane's rise to a near billion dollar valuation along with its 10 million customer/members has been on the back of great content communicated through a suite of mail-delivered offine channels such as look books, preview books and magalogues.

Closer to home, Howards Storage World has changed their central marketing planks from an annual full-range catalogue to seasonal "content rich" catalogues specialising in image-led stories that help customers solve their storage problems and lead a more organised life.

Rather than rely on supplied product images from its stable of brands, online fashion retailer ssense.com has applied its own branding to product imagery. Photography is undertaken with a consistency of style, lighting, expression and pose while allowing variations in model to express its diversity of target customer.

Apart from these few-of-many examples (see also Bidsnest.com's latest 72 page print catalogue, seen here in its online iteration), the burgeoning popularity of image-based channels such as Instagram only serves to underline how important a visual content-led strategy is.

How will you incorporate brand-consistent photography to motivate your target market?



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