The Lost Art of Using Pictures and Photos in Your Marketing

Picture worth a thousand wordsEverybody reading this is familiar with the adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so I’m not going to spend time trying to convince you to use them in your marketing.  Pictures are universally understandable and often-times break-through language barriers and educational levels.

Study any of the marketing greats…

Caples, Ogilvy, Jayme, Bernbach… and you’ll see how important they considered photos to be in marketing and advertising.  And if you do an even more in-depth study, you’ll find numerous studies that prove photographs, when used correctly, always help with getting attention, recall and comprehension.

To not be using photos in your marketing would be a mistake.  A big one.

Properly selected photographs help you tell your story in a way words cannot accomplish and you should have several go-to folders on your computer of photos you can use and reuse in your various marketing promotions.

Context is Critical

Before I share some very specific ways you can use photos I believe you should be using, I want to emphasize the importance of the
context of your marketing.  You want to use photos to get attention, connect with your reader or illustrate a point (and even help with SEO as you can see on page 7). Therefore it’s important that any photos you use are in the right context for your target recipient and call-to-action.

So even though studies have shown that pictures of cute babies are big eye-magnets, there’s little probability you would use them to market a high-performance sports car.  Remember, not all pictures are equal and you want to make sure their use is helping support and advance the sales or marketing process.  Ad agencies are famous for trying to be too clever or creative and forgetting the whole point is to advance the sale.

Pictures That Get Attention

Certain types of pictures are proven to grab your readers by their eyeballs.  Numerous studies have shown their use helps get attention, including a well-known study by the Gallup Research Bureau that surveyed 29,000 readers of different Sunday newspapers.  Here in order were the top 7 types of photos that got readers’ attention.

  1. Pictures of children and babies
  2. Pictures of mothers and babies
  3. Pictures of groups of adults
  4. Pictures of animals and pets
  5. Pictures of sport scenes
  6. Pictures of  celebrities/famous people
  7. Pictures of food, especially close-ups

In my experience there are a few other types of pictures that are very good for getting attention.  As an added bonus, I am giving you a PDF that shows examples of all these type of pictures in this month’s downloadable content.  It is worthy of your study!

  • Headshots and close-up photos
  • Pictures of people in odd situations or costumes (see Figure 1 for classic example)
  • Pictures of romantic situations
  • Pictures of news and current events
  • Power Pose pictures
  • Pictures of you taken with V.I.P.’s
  • Pictures of you doing interesting things
  • Panoramic event photos

Of course, depending on your target market, there are specific sub-niche pictures that may come to mind, but from an overall strategy the types of pictures listed above will help you draw people into your marketing and advertising.  Consider this list and see if you’re missing any opportunities to use these types of  pictures in your marketing and advertising.

Pictures That Sell

Regardless if you sell physical products, digital products or even services, there are several fundamental ways you can use pictures to advance the sale, including:

  1. Pictures of your product/service
  2. Pictures of your product/service in use
  3. Pictures of people using your product/service
  4. Pictures showing the reward of using your product/service
  5. Pictures showing the effect of NOT using your product or service
  6. Before and after pictures
  7. Enlarged photos showing product details
  8. Pictures of you with customers
  9. Pictures of employees
  10. Historical company pictures (if in business for a long time)
  11. Pictures of you doing “your thing” (see Figure 2)

Again, pause for a moment and think about your business, products and services and consider how you can tell their story with pictures.

Where to Get Pictures for Marketing

After you realize how important pictures are in your marketing, the next logical question is how do you go about getting them.

Fortunately, there are opportunities for all business owners to use high-quality photos in their marketing.  Here are smart suggestions (in order of most to least expensive):

  • Hire your own professional photographer & art director for a few hours and get your own customized photos taken
  • Hire an amateur photographer (or a friend with a pro-style camera)
  • Visit a local mall-based photo studio, e.g. Picture People, Sears, J.C. Penney, etc.
  • For small product-type photos you can purchase a mini photo studio (Google “portable photo studio” for many types)
  • There are numerous stock photo sites, including,,
  • Have your camera with you at all times to snap your own photos
  • Search online for “public domain photos” (this is a HUGE collection of copyright-free images you can use)

Whatever you do, do not use somebody else’s pictures without their permission - there is potential for legal hassles in doing this.

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