New Blog Series – Money Photography and Profit
Impact Imagery and PR
“Impact Imagery” – very easy words to say, but not so easy to achieve. Another term is that “WOW image”. We know what it is when we get it, but being able to create an impact image on demand is something few photographers can accomplish. Let’s define impact imagery a bit more so that we know exactly what we’re talking about. An impact image is one that instantly communicates the client’s message clearly and unmistakably to their target audience – at a glance.
Buyers, you should be looking for photographers that have the ability to achieve impact imagery on every assignment. A characteristic of this type of photographer is that they ask a lot of questions. If you have a photographer asking you 20 questions, you’re probably on the right track. They’re going to want to know all about your product. Key questions might be,
- Why is it better than competition’s product?
- Who is your audience and what is their typical age, income and background?
- What benefit does your product have to your audience?
Even if your marketing firm asks you the same questions, your photographer needs to ask them also. You may remember from my earlier post that pictures are your first impression. Photographers convert words to imagery. Money invested in a photographer that has the ability to create impact images is the best investment you can make.
Here’s a short story to illustrate the power of an impact image:
One of my clients, Rotary Left, called me and said they had a brand-new product and they needed a 35mm slide photograph taken immediately at a local service garage to be included in a presentation. Rotary Left manufactures car lifts for automotive service garages. The product that they needed photographed was a small jack attachment for compressing the shock absorber. Not very glamorous, but did that negate the need for an impact image? I think not. I used every bit of photographic knowledge that I had to make the most glamorous shot possible and illustrate exactly what this jack attachment did in the clearest and most precise way possible. Total shoot time was 20 minutes because we were a guest in a workplace and needed to minimize the disruption to their business. There’s a host of reasons why photographers could argue that a glamour shot would’ve been virtually impossible – oily dirty environment, distracting and visually disruptive background. A studio photograph of this product would glamorize it better, but is a glamour shot what the client needed? That may be what a photographer would want for their portfolio, but it would not be a value money returning impact image.
Let me wrap this up by explaining the impact this image made. My client later told me that they were doing a major presentation for a national car dealership chain. The CEO had only minutes to see the presentation. He came into the presentation late, and seemed to be agitated at giving up his time to be there. As he was watching the presentation slideshow, he was visibly irritated. When the slideshow reached the jack attachment that I photographed, the CEO jumped out of his chair, pointed at the screen, and said, “Stop the presentation!” He turned to his administration officer and stated, “Write a purchase order for that. That’s what we need!” and he walked out of the room. The opening purchase order was for an initial $750,000. And the purchase order was open-ended. I really don’t think my client was angry with me for charging them $500 for the 35mm slide.
I could easily go on to tell you about multiple returns on investments off of single images that I have created that were in the $300 million range, as well as numerous lesser returns that only achieved $35 million.
The stories above speak for themselves about profit. The questions I’d like to propose are these:
Photographers, are you returning this kind of profit to your clients and are you looking for how you can achieve profit returns for your clients?
Buyers, are you looking for photographers that have the characteristics and the proven track record to return these types of profits to you?
Imagery is critical in today’s world. Profit is created with the right imagery, and creating the right imagery doesn’t happen by chance. Neither do you achieve profit by happenstance. How much value are you putting on the investment in photography? How much value are you assigning to achieving the right image? If you’re not achieving the right image, you probably don’t have the right photographer. Commercial photography is a performance-driven career and performance is measured in return on investment (profit for your client).
An overlooked profit multiplier… PR
Public Relations (PR) usually consists of press releases to the media, hoping to garner editorial space. This truly is just the basic PR effort that can be made. Let me talk about the value and the profit return on editorial space. Editorial (articles) are valued at 11 to 1 advertising dollars. Simple math: If a full-page ad costs you $3000 then a full page of editorial space is valued at $33,000. You would have to buy eleven full-page ads to equal the same value of a single page of editorial text. I learned in my business administration classes that if you cut your expenses, that money immediately on the ledger sheet goes to profit. So if I’m getting $33,000 in value without having to spend $33,000 on advertising, that’s $33,000 in my profit column. Just sending out press releases is not how you achieve this value.
I’m currently published somewhere every month. Personally I badger the issue with my clients about how to achieve editorial space – like full interior articles and more often than not, cover articles. FYI, you can’t buy the cover and it’s worth a heck of a lot more than 33,000 and advertising. There is a process which I’m not going to share with you here, but I will give you a hint: impact images.
You’re welcome to call me and, for a consulting fee, I will share the process with you. (Side note: Everyone I’ve shared the process with has cut their advertising budgets to a third and have grown their sales a minimum of double.)
Here are some of the reasons why achieving an article in a publication is so valuable. There are usually only 12 publications per year; you’re being given third-party accreditation which elevates you to expert status. If there are 100 competitors in your field and only 12 articles, that can anoint expert status that elevates you from 1 in 100 to 1 in 12. By using reprints coupled in an appropriate manner (which I’ll share with you if you hire me as a consultant) it changes your close ratio of calls to sales significantly and grossly reduces the selling cycle.
Impact images reduce your expenses and increase your profit exponentially. Impact images are achievable on every assignment, though they don’t happen by chance and very rarely are they created on an iPhone. Please don’t undervalue the power of images.
A properly functioning PR department powered with impact images can reduce your overall advertising cost significantly while grossly increasing your sales. The same as military snipers are a force multiplier, PR is a profit multiplier. There’s more to the process of generating free editorial space than just impact images, but without them it’s virtually impossible.
Subject of the next post: The 3-legged Stool: brand strategy, marketing, and sales