Sandi had been working on this project for awhile and the cover had gone through several iterations.
The cover has several problems (which I’ll save for a different post) but the biggest one was the author’s photo that was going to be used on the front.
It’s not right for the cover, but the author loves it.
I’m going to resist the temptation to go off on a tangent about clients who fall in love with things that won’t help them. That’s another issue all on its own.
I ran into a similar problem when I worked for a brand design firm.
One of our biggest and one of my favorite clients to write for was a growing regional insurance agency.
The CEO was the son of the founder and it was a great example of a successful family-owned business.
When we landed the account, my boss (who owned the firm), spent an afternoon taking pictures of the CEO (Tom) for the series of ads we’d be creating for the agency.
Tom was truly the face of the brand and felt it was important that HE be the one delivering his messages.
He was right.
He’s photogenic, comfortable in front of the camera, and even comfortable filming a commercial.
The problem though was sometimes I’d be writing ad for copy that was talking about pretty somber stuff –being protected in case of an emergency or even a disaster.
But the pictures my boss took all had Tom sporting a big toothy grin.
My boss refused to ask Tom to pose for more pictures because he didn’t want to admit he’d missed something in the original photo shoot, nor did he want to have any additional expenses on the account.
This really cramped my writing style and sometimes would take me twice as long to create an ad because I had to have the copy match that face.
I did the job, and Tom was so happy with the ads he would refer to me as his “voice” because he said I came up with what he would genuinely say.
If you’re the face of your business then you’ll need to accept that fact means you need to have your picture taken fairly often for your various marketing and sales materials. So here are some simple tips to help you use your money wisely.
- Work with a professional photographer. My boss was pretty good but by no means a professional. Hire someone who has done shots for marketing and advertising because they’ll know you need various looks (serious, happy, etc.).
- Think about the emotions you’re trying to convey and to arouse in your Prime Suspects. I don’t know about you but I want a serious guy in charge of my insurance. When I had headshots done I picked two and asked my newsletter readers which one they liked. They were VERY vocal and basically told me one they hated because it was too serious and business like. The other one they LOVED because they felt it captured the personality they see when I teach live. And that’s the one I’ve used on my site online and off for about 4 years (and they’re time for an update).
- Get shots from various angles. You want to be able to place the picture looking into the copy wherever it is. For example, I always have my picture next to a note from me that’s part of my newsletter. My face is turned into the writing. It gives the subtle message that I’m in alignment with my message. (See how the girl is pointing the camera towards the copy? That’s what I mean. I could have used a shot with the girl pointing the camera straight at you. But having her facing the camera away from the copy would not be good.)
- Get a full body shot. I think of this as a power shot. There’s something confident and compelling about a person standing up.
- Get some pictures sitting down. Lean into the shot to create a feeling of movement and subtly look one direction and to the other. I think most of us are more photogenic when we’re looking slight on an angle.
- Take several changes of clothing to the shoot. If your image is conservative (like your clients expect you to be in a suit) then take at least more than one blazer with you. You never know how the lighting might impact the colors and textures. And if you’ve got a slightly laid back reputation then you might want to have some shots that are business casual and some that are more business traditional for you and your clients.
- Get the pictures taken against a white background. That gives you the most flexibility.
- Consult with an image consultant on wardrobe, makeup, jewelry and colors. It’s money well spent to have a makeup professional do your makeup before the shoot. Guys, that goes for you too. A little touch of concealer too minimize shadows around your eyes especially helps make you look brighter (visually, not mentally)
- Get new pictures done if you need them. Don’t be like my boss and force me to use happy pictures when I needed neutral emotion. If what you’ve got doesn’t send the message you want then get them done again.
- Loosen up before the shoot. Play your favorite music, bring a supportive friend along…do what you need to in order to be relaxed and present the real you. These are marketing and sales tools afterall, not your junior high school class picture. You’re smart and professional and that’s what you’re trying to convey.
If you haven’t updated your pictures in a while then it’s time to plan for that and start budgeting for pictures whenever you’re launching something new or changing your messaging.