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May 5th, 2008

Are you using photos all wrong in your newsletter?

Car ads usually get it right. Realtors usually get it wrong. Anyone selling the intangible (copywriting, marketing, etc, etc) typically tries really hard to get it right… And fails.

Odds are, you’re getting it wrong too. And, if you are getting it wrong, it’s costing you, big time!

When you use a photo in your newsletter, what is it of? Work you’ve done?

The client you did the work for? Two generic people shaking hands?

Most Realtor’s photos show a perfectly nice house, with photos and papers all over the fridge, unfluffed pillows on the bed, and shoes in the living room. In short, they show houses where a family *lives*.

Most home remodeler’s photos show beautifully staged spaces–the wine bottle on the new kitchen counter with two glasses, or the throw placed just so on the couch in the new family room.

Realtors and home remodelers are taking the opposite approaches–and BOTH are getting it all wrong! Chances are, you’re taking photos of the wrong details, too.

See, in the case of the Realtor, when you’re looking at the photo, you’re trying to imagine yourself *living* in that space. And, someone else’s stuff–shoes, mail, etc–clutters up the photo making it really hard to put yourself there.

In the case of the remodeler, you’re trying to imagine how your life would be different with your own redone space. So, you need the photo to represent all the best lifestyle elements of a redone space.

When it comes to the photos you share in your newsletter, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your readers. What are *they* trying to accomplish with your photos? Are they trying to see if you work with people who are “like” them. (For a coach, that might be people in a specific age group, or with people who have certain types of jobs.)
Do potential clients want to know if you’re detail oriented? Or do they want to know if you’re quick to get the job done? Are they looking for someone who’s a good listener? Or someone with a proactive action plan?

Any of this can be communicated through your photos!

If you’re a coach who works with Veterinarians on making their practices more enjoyable, DON’T publish generic “professional” photos of your clients–use photos of your clients with a patient or pet. If you’re a retail copywriter who helps stores promote sales, use a photo of the crowd outside one of your client’s stores before the store opened.

To determine what sorts of photos you should use in your own newsletter, ask yourself this simple question: “If I do my job brilliantly, what image might result?”

For the Realtor, that could be the home sellers standing on their front lawn, holding the “Sold!” sign. For the home remodeler, that could be the family gathered in the new kitchen, cooking together.

For a landscaper, that might be a big backyard barbeque party. For a dentist, the patient’s new beautiful smile.

Sure, some projects are more visual than others, and you may have to stretch a bit to come up with the perfect photos for your newsletter, but the stretch is well worth it! Just keep asking yourself what images result from doing your job brilliantly and you *will* come up with some great ideas. The key is to ask until you get the answers–not to stop and say, “There are no photos related to what I do!”

If you really, truly, honestly cannot come up with any images related to doing your job brilliantly, brainstorm ways to make what you do more visual.

For example, coach Kendall Summerhawk uses her horses as part of her branding program which means she can include photos of her clients with her horses to show what she does.

Whatever you do, you can represent it in a visual way. It’s just a matter of asking yourself that simple question, “If I do my job brilliantly, what image might result?” Then, if you draw a blank, brainstorm ways to make your job more visual, and you’ll be instantly on your way to better photos in your newsletter.

It’s time to toss out those boring stock photos, and say goodbye to the ineffective photos others in your industry use. Step out from the pack by making the most of your photos.

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