15.Oct.2009 Beauty is in the Eye of the Consumer
October 8th, 2009
Today’s topic is product photography. I am not a photographer – but I know a good hero shot when I see one. I bring this up because I am looking at one of my competitor’s catalogs right now and the images are so tiny I can’t even tell what they’re selling. You know the expression, “A picture’s worth a thousand words”? The images in their catalog are worth about 5 words apiece!
I should probably laugh and rejoice that my competition has such a poor catalog, but I’d rather they did a GREAT job so I could persuade MY company to spend more on marketing! Honestly though, let’s all learn from their mistakes and discuss some common marketing errors.
Problem #1 – Tiny images
Why bother to spend the money for original photography if your customer can’t even see the details on the product? A good hero shot should be up-close-and-personal, showing the product at its best. If it’s food, it should look mouth-watering and delicious. If it’s a toy, it should look fun and inviting. If it’s technology, it should look modern and full of features. Basically the product should look as sexy as it’s ever going to look! Now a lot of people will say, ‘but the copy explains the features… the copy tells you how great it is…. the copy will make you want to buy this product’ – WRONG! The picture (if it doesn’t sell the product all by itself) should make you want to read the copy, not the other way around. Think of it this way; if you see a shirt in a store that you think is ugly, do you bother to check the price tag?
Problem #2 – Overloaded shots
Just because you have a great kit with lots of pieces doesn’t mean you should just dump them all out on the table and take the picture. If the image just looks like a hodge-podge of junk, no one is going to try to decipher all the components – they’re just going to flip the page. For kit shots, I prefer to keep the pieces in the packaging and put one of each piece in front for display – this let’s the customer see the components without overwhelming them.
Problem #3 – Cluttered Page Layout
I have seen images in catalogs with bursts all around them, proclaiming “best seller!”, “great value!”, “customer favorite!”. Really annoying! I would hope that the product you’re trying to sell me is a great value – what’s the alternative? “Over-priced!”? “Not worth the money!”? Better to show the product itself than waste space with clichés.
Problem #4 – Inappropriate Props
How many times have I seen an otherwise normal product accompanied with a stupid prop? True example – I started working for a place that had imaged all their couches and chairs with throw-pillows and blankets draped over them artistically. The images were lovely. And we spent the rest of the year explaining to customers that the pillows and blankets are not included. And that we don’t actually sell them. My point is, don’t go overboard with props or models, background washes and puppy dogs, etc. etc. It’s overkill, and it’s just giving face time to things you can’t actually make money on!
An experience photographer/designer is worth his or her weight in gold – they can take something completely boring and transform it into the star of the show! Believe me when I say that I’ve had to merchandise some pretty un-glamorous products (titanium steel wave-rings, fishing tackle, meter sticks…. I could go on and on)!
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