Is Your Personal Photo Working For You Or Against You?

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Your photography has a significant impact on the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaign. Make sure you’re not making the mistakes that can undermine your campaign’s effectiveness.

October 2002, By Greg Herder

I hate the way I look in my promotional photographs!

This is the excuse I hear over and over again from agents as a reason for either not using their photograph in their marketing materials, or for using a 10-year old photo.
Stop this craziness! Your photographs are an important part of your personal marketing campaign that are either working for you or against you. The good news is that with just a little thought, it’s easy to ensure that they are helping, not hurting you.

What’s Your Picture Worth?

First, I believe that you must use your photograph in most of your marketing materials. When people see you, they feel like they know you. The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true. When done right, your picture can tell a story that makes prospects feel more comfortable picking up the phone and calling you.

The first thing I want you to know is that most people do not like their own photograph. With that being said, there is a huge difference between good and bad promotional photographs. Great photos are designed to enhance the story that the text in your marketing piece is telling the reader. Let’s say that you are talking about your commitment to family values. A picture of you doing something with your family, with a meaningful caption underneath, will add dramatically more credibility and appeal than just having the standard head shot.

Break Out of the Box

I swear, agents think there is a law that says they must use the same headshot that every other agent is using. The reality is that this is the worst type of photo you can use to promote yourself. It is so much better to take a photograph where you are involved in doing something. Activity makes you look more approachable and will also make you more attractive in the photograph. Most importantly, action photos are also much more memorable; they stand out in our brain and are much easier to recall after we have seen them.

In fact, in something like your personal prospecting brochure, I strongly recommend that you have three to five action photos. Each photo should amplify the story line of the text they are next to in your brochure. This way, a prospect will see you from a number of different perspectives. When you do this, prospects will feel like they know you better; most importantly, they will feel more comfortable picking up the phone to call you to set up that face-to-face meeting that will allow you to turn them into a client instead of a prospect.

Get Creative!

The good news is that this is fairly easy to accomplish. If we at Hobbs/Herder Advertising are creating a piece of personal marketing for you, we will come up with the photo concepts for you to take to your local photographer. If you are creating a piece of marketing on your own, once you have the layout and story line completed, take it to a local photographer and ask them for some ideas on how to make the story come alive with your photos. When you do this, also think about the color of clothes you are wearing so that they do not clash with the color scheme of your graphic design.

If it helps to tell your story, don’t be afraid to include pictures with your spouse, kids, pets or clients. If you talk about a hobby that you have, or a cause that you are involved in, take photographs that show your involvement in an interesting way. The best photographs communicate an emotion; whether it is happy, sad, thoughtful, inspiring, funny or sentimental, it will work best if it communicates the emotional message that you are trying to get across. The worst photographs are where you are simply staring into the camera with a bored grin on your face; these are the photos that we all hate of ourselves and of others as well.

Be Yourself

One of my pet peeves is the glamour photo – you know, the photos where they make you look like a movie star. The problem is that these set in a person’s mind the expectation of what you look like, and when they meet you, they often don’t even relate you to your picture. This tends to set up a subconscious message that they cannot trust you, and that you make everything look or sound better than it really is. This costs agents more than they will ever realize.

Don’t Let Your Photos Get Stale

Next, you must keep your pictures current. Every two to four years, you need to take new photographs and put them into your marketing materials. The key is to always make sure that the pictures look like you. It will only cost you between $500.00 and $1,500.00 for a good photo shoot every couple of years, but it is well worth it! You will have a wide range of pictures that you can use to create interest and communicate your message throughout all of your marketing materials. This will also keep your materials looking current with the style of clothes and hairstyles that are fashionable today. If you pick up a five-year-old photo of yourself, you look out of date.

Now, back to that excuse, “I hate my pictures”! Simply accept the fact that most of us do not look the way we want, and call the photographer to set a date for the photo shoot right now. Don’t tell yourself that you will call as soon as you have lost five more pounds or after you have started to work out. Do it now, and you will know your photographs will be working for you and not against you.