I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with a number of local small business entrepreneurs and I’ve come to realise just how much this new breed of business owners, can benefit from sharing their lives as well as their products online. The rise of social media marketing as an accessible, free way for new businesses to reach their customers is well documented, as are the many an various reasons why some businesses are more successful than others. Jasmine Star has a lot of great content on this over on her blog, so I won’t repeat it here, except to say that using social media successfully to build a brand and attract loyal customers takes a lot of work!
One the key things I noticed about those I’ve recently worked with, is that they share a lot online and it’s not always directly related to their products. They do share products, great pictures showing the lovely things they offer, but they also share their lifestyle – and that’s where great photography comes in. I think this comes down to a couple of things. Firstly – we are more likely to buy something we need from someone we identify with, someone who we feel ‘gets us’ and who we trust to provide the product we need. If there’s a choice between a faceless organisation with whom we feel no connection, and someone we know and trust – all other things being equal we’ll go with the person we know.
Secondly, for many people, the desire to support and help local businesses, especially smaller, newer ones is strong. Certainly here in Surrey there’s a big movement against big chain stores and in favour of supporting more niche, local businesses who provide different products, better quality or simply a better customer experience. So telling people about who you are, what you do and what you offer that’s special can tap into this instinct to support and help. Sharing how your customers’ support makes a difference to you, helps you grow, helps you improve or simply helps you put food on the table – can be a powerful motivator.
The kinds of imagery you need to achieve good results in this area is a little different to the standard corporate headshot. I’ve blogged before about how great imagery makes a massive difference to your business website (see here) and in many ways this is similar. The images should reflect your brand, be excellent quality of course and communicate about who you are. However, with these kinds of images we are looking for something else as well – we are looking for ‘soul’. It’s a tricky thing to put your finger on, but essentially it’s honest, fun, sometimes quirky images that capture both the person and the business and draw people in by engaging with them on a human level – it’s about selling you and your story, much more than selling your product or service.