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Making Marketing Matter: Build an Audience with Your Photos

build an audience with your photos

Making Marketing Matter: Build an Audience with Your Photos

“Marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems.” — Seth Godin, This Is Marketing

Seth Godin is known for creating bite size nuggets of wisdom that become everyday mantras, but this quote from This Is Marketing perfectly sums up how we feel about marketing. Many people confuse marketing with sales. They couldn’t be more different.

At the heart of it, the difference between marketing and sales is wants and needs — marketing is about meeting a client’s wants and needs, not about closing a deal. 

Sales and marketing need each other, but they aren’t the same thing. The brands that resonate with people and ultimately succeed in sales do so because they create a movement. They cultivate community and design their marketing to serve their audience. Whatever their motivation may be, a person buys a product or service because they feel they either want or need included in a group, mission, cause, etc. 

It’s personal. 

You need to build a relationship with your audience much like you would a new friend. You don’t make quality friends by talking about yourself all of the time; you need to help them and give more than you take. Here are a few tips on how to get personal and build an audience with your photos:

Feature Real People

Stock photos have their place in marketing, but images that feature real people make more of an impact than “Generic Looking Man Smiles While Typing.” Show your audience that you have real people behind the scenes taking care of their needs, and build a real relationship between your employees and clients. We love websites that have creative bios about their employees and give some insights into who they are (rather than listing achievements).

Remember, not everyone wants to be featured in marketing materials. It’s important to respect your employees’ boundaries and not force them to do something that makes them uncomfortable. You’ll have many employees that want to rally behind your brand and enjoy being featured on the website, in campaigns, and on social media. If someone isn’t excited about being in the photo, your audience will see it.

Highlight Realistic Scenarios

Everyone has succumbed to at least one impulse purchase because a photo or a video features the product in a scenario that makes you say, “I need that now.” We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about creating consistent content that is relatable, inspirational, or speaks to them in some way that they become loyal to your brand.

You can do this by using real clients or on-brand influencers to help illustrate the impact of your product or service. Ask clients to send in photos of your product “in the wild” and feature it on your social media pages. We have clients that hire us to go on location and photograph their product or service in their clients’ office or with their client using it. There are times when you need a literal standalone image of product or service, but you will always have an impact by featuring a real person in a real environment benefiting from your real company.

Embrace Your Weirdness

The best thing about being human is that we’re all different. Not all people are the same, and not all companies are the same. At a 2018 AMA Baltimore event, author and speaker, Stan Phelps said to the audience: “What makes us weird, makes us wonderful. What makes us weak also makes us strong.” 

That’s just awesome.

Instead of being afraid of what makes you weird or weak, lean into it. Own it. Put it on display, and shout it from the rooftops. Whatever makes you different will draw in the right crowd. Let your website content feature your true voice instead of mimicking your competition. If you create images that reflect the real you and are authentic to your brand, you will use them. Think about your closet. You have to have at least one shirt, dress, shoes, or whatever that you never wear because they aren’t you. “Fake it til you make it” will only get you so far.

Personalization is key in today’s marketing. Everything from emails to personalized direct mail to virtual shopping experiences are focused on trying to build a relationship with an audience. You may need your clients, but they don’t exist to solve your problems. Think about your audience, how you can meet their wants and needs, and build your community. 


Learn more about creating authentic images in our post, “Authentic Marketing Photos: Show Off the Real You.”