Ask any professional marketing or PR expert what the single most important thing is about any business and they will tell you it’s the ‘unique sales proposition’ or USP.
This is the thing that sets you apart from your competitors and makes your business special.
In fact thousands of hours of marketing training, coaching and hundreds of books have been written about the importance of finding this illusive aspect of your company and then turning it to your advantage.
What singles out one tradesman from another, maybe you offer a guarantee on your workmanship or make a feature of always cleaning up properly after you’ve finished your work?
Having determined this uniqueness, you start to build your brand, making sure that marketing and press releases are established around this difference, ensuring that your customer clearly understands why they should use you rather than the company down the road, offering a similar service.
One of the quickest and most effective ways of promoting your business is by using a website, blog or some other electronic medium and we all know that these visual displays of your company’s wares get your business profile into your client’s office, home or factory.
For many businesses this is where they are prepared to compromise their individuality. All publicity requires a story and this can vary from text heavy descriptions to well illustrated picture features, but whatever you decide it is essential to make sure your ‘uniqueness’, shines through.
As a professional photographer in West Berkshire, I study other people’s web pages and blogs and I frequently notice a common theme which is how often the same picture crops up on competitors sites.
The main reason for this is the use of stock picture libraries where web designers and anybody else building websites or writing blogs go, to find visual collateral to support their business story.
Viewed as a low cost resource of ready made imagery, the unfortunate fact is that these libraries contain so many bad pictures, that the outstandingly good ones get used and reused.
There is also a much propagated myth that stock shots are cheap or even free, but as we all know there’s no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ and the time spent researching these pictures has to have a cost, and time is expensive.
Remember how much you’re paying your web designer or what your personal hourly rate is, or that of your staff member researching pictures for you; how cheap are your images now?
The reality is that you could possibly have a bespoke photo taken for not a lot more than your library picture will have cost.
Whilst imitation is the greatest form of flattery, do you really want you internet presence to be mistaken for your competitor’s simply on the basis of its visual content?
Some of the biggest companies in the world guard their individuality to the extreme of trying to restrict the use of basic colour schemes. If Microsoft feel threatened because Google use the same four colours on their website, would they really contemplate using a generic library picture to illustrate their products?
Originality is key to success and the uniqueness of out public face is as vital as the uniqueness of our sales proposition, don’t dilute its value for the sake of a having your own image.
So next time you need a picture to illustrate your business and its unique selling proposition, think carefully how unique it should be and use have a photograph of ‘your product or service’, taken by a professional photographer.