Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Pictures are Better than Yours!

I live and work in a small town. That means I'm probably not going to be shooting the next Pepsi ad campaign...and it means most of my commercial work comes from small, local companies. The availability of high-quality, inexpensive digital cameras has convinced a lot of these small companies that they can do their own photo work, which they often do -- badly. Because they might not know how much difference a professional, high-quality image can make to their web sites, advertisements, and promotional materials they often decide that their own work is "good enough." How can I get their business? There's really only one way: show them that my pictures are better than theirs.

I'm quite serious about the title of this post -- so serious, in fact, that I've actually had advertising postcards made up and sent out that have a similar before-after photo pair like you see here, with just one sentence across the top: My Pictures are Better than Yours! Especially in a worsening economy like today, it takes some salesmanship to convince small business owners of the benefits of professionally done photography. While frankly I *hate* selling, I think I'm pretty good at this kind of campaign because I believe in the quality of my work, and I believe that there truly are benefits to these folks if they get better quality images in their business materials.
Fortunately, some of my existing clients had already figured this out for themselves, after trying to do their own photography and deciding it wasn't good enough. And they've been kind enough to let me use some of their own images for my "yours vs. mine" advertising, as well as act as references if potential new clients want to call and ask about me.

The custom kitchen image above is a good case study for this type of marketing. The owner of a small custom construction/remodeling company had built his own web page and taken his own images -- for which he gets an "A" for effort. However, he had several people tell him that while it looked like he did great cabinet work, his website photos didn't show that off very well. They were dark, muddy, and boring (his words, not mine!). He found my website while looking for a pro photographer in his area (he lives in my small town), and had me re-shoot several of his jobs that he had already done. The updated images were posted on his website, and he learned two things about his "marketing image:" One, his competitors were checking out his web site -- he learned this because several of them called him, commented on the great photos on his site, and asked him who he had used as a photographer (and yes, I got several new jobs out of those referrals). Two, he learned how effective "better" images can be...because he started getting comments from potential customers about how beautiful his work looked on his web site and mailers -- while using his previous self-made photos, he told me that he had to spend time convincing people that the final work would look better than the photos where now he has people call and say they want their kitchen to look just like that photo!

My client realized a real, tangible improvement in the image people have of his company and of his work, and he's received more sales calls because of better photography. That's the message I try to get out in my small town -- it's worth the money spent to make a great impression for your business with professional photography. I think my slogan gets the point across succintly and somewhat humorously...I can tell you that people that see it remember it!

Now if I can just get that message across to the 95% or so of the local businesses that aren't my clients yet...time to go make more mailers!


  1. This idea really works! I did some photos for my school orchestra last year. At first, the parents were saying, "Well, if I can shoot my kid with my digital point-and-shoot, why should I pay money to buy a print from you". I only got a few preorders. However, once the prints came in, I got many more orders from parents who realized how much better my photos were.