How to lose a million dollars with bad photography
Let me tell you a sad story about how a major university lost about a million dollars with bad photography.
University “X” wanted to update their look.
They produced new flyers for leaving in high school, slick brochures, posters, videos and a trendy website. They were poised to launch in the fall, when students would be looking at schools.
The truckloads of materials were shipped to high schools across the US. The TV commercials were at the stations ready to engage prospective students.
Then it happened…
About 4 days before the TV started to run, and about a week before all those truckloads of materials arrived, another large university sent their truckloads of brochures and TV commercials across the US…
… With the exact images the other University had chosen.
Both schools used the same stock images (They were really good ones too). But… they were EXACTLY the same.
The TV commercials used stock images to… the EXACT same ones. A smiling guy graduating here, a beautiful girl in class raising her hand.
University “X” began to get calls as to why they “copied” the other school. The TV stations asked if they wanted to replace them because they were “quite similar”.
However, for University “X” it was too late. The damage was done, they budget was spent. They didn’t have the time or budget to redo everything.
When representatives visited the schools, they found their material had been placed behind others. The local TV spots didn’t produce the results they normally saw.
The impact skewed their admissions numbers and cost them both money and reputation.
… what happened next?
The school put in a policy that from then on, they would use custom images from a professional photographer that not only showed diversity, but they owned the rights to all the images. The following year, they spent 5 figures on photography and 5 figures on videos. They were able to create a “real students, real achievement” campaign using actual students.
…and had the best admissions year they ever had in the school’s history.
Now, you might not have a university, but there are some lessons learned here.
With the Internet and “new media” being the way it is today, photography is becoming more crucial to the promotion of a product or service than ever before.
It Gets attention. Visual elements increase readership by over 80%.
It’s more efficient. Visual images are processed 400% faster than words by the human brain.
Stock photography is great, but great stock photography, especially in niche markets is overused.
It increases nonverbal communication. With over 90% of communication being non-verbal, combining visual elements with well-written text is an excellent way wake up your audience.
It influences emotion. It has been shown too many times to count that consumers buying decisions are emotional first. The use of impactful photography drives emotional responses surrounding your business.
It creates a great first impression. We make snap judgments, sometimes on a subconscious level, about all things we see like it or not. A professional appearance, including great photos displaying a product or service in context, builds trust.
IT actually does drive sales. There is a direct correlation between utilizing high-quality images in marketing and sales increases. Photographs help consumers visualize themselves using a product or service and allows them to imagine it improving their life in some way.