50: Get Better Advertising ROI for Free
Every summer, I walk into the National Auctioneers Association’s trade show to look at which advertising pieces won in the categories biplane’s work did not. Every year, there is at least one award given to a piece identical to the prior year’s winning entry, just with a photo and text swap. Same colors, same font, same exterior layout.
I know this. Many of the auctioneers in the competition do, too. Unfortunately, though, the lesson is lost on most: good photography can trump subpar design.
Sadly, though, good design can’t trump subpar photography. Believe me, I’ve tried. So often, an idea for a top-shelf layout is neutered by dark and/or low-resolution pictures, cluttered and/or grainy photographs. Sometimes, I can partially repair some shots in Photoshop; the rest of the time, the images look like still frames from a 7-Eleven surveillance video.
If pictures are worth a thousand words, I’ve seen a lot of auction advertising images with 72 lines of, “This auctioneer didn’t take the time to put this property in its best light.” Your seller sees that. Your prospective buyer sees that. Your brand is associated with that.
If that brand isn’t worth a professional photographer’s fees to you, here are some simple tips to improve your advertising’s photography:
Get out of your vehicle.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Photoshop’d rear view mirrors from images! Candid camera just captured your laziness—not a cool brand image.
Aim away from the sun.
Silhouettes remove detail—great for dramatic portraits from your vacation but killer for that commercial property you’re trying to sell.
Shoot in the middle of the day.
Unless you’re going for dramatic scenery shots, avoid long shadows. If at all possible, avoid one building’s shadow being cast on your subject real estate.
Illumine all interior lights.
Even if you’re shooting in the day time, turn on all interior lighting prior to photographing. Make sure you’re not standing in front of a primary light source when photographing a room; if at all possible, shoot perpendicular to your light source.
Set your camera to its finest/best image quality.
Almost weekly, I open well-intentioned (even beautifully captured) pictures that are only a small fraction of the image size my cell phone camera takes. You want to use the image “quality setting” that will create the largest files and fit the fewest images on the memory card. Your designer can always batch-reduce them for you to use on the web. But there’s no such thing as successfully enlarging low-resolution digital images to match natively-large ones.
Don’t use a flash.
If your point-and-shoot camera needs to pop the flash to capture your stationary subject, it’s not properly lit. Your outdoor real estate shots cannot be helped by standard camera flashes, either. If you must use a flash, do not aim at reflective surfaces (windows or mirrors, chrome or painted metal) . If your flash can be aimed vertically instead of horizontally, rotate your flash toward the ceiling.
Photography lives as an under-valued skill. True: anybody with a camera can take pictures of what you’re selling. But cameras are limited by mechanical ability and unbreakable physical laws. They can’t always compensate for user ignorance. So, be intentional about your auction photography; otherwise, it might be your brand nonchalance you’re capturing.
Many believers, especially celebrities, think all there is to living the Christian life is experiencing a faith conversion. That’s the most important step of a journey with Christ, but the rest isn’t just automatic—any more than a child’s education and maturation can healthily advance without the intentional input of others.
Our walk must be intentional, a pursuit of God’s voice and a community of faith. We cannot grow alone. In our American culture, where independence and self-actualization are not just praised but ingrained, it’s easy for us to think we can do this God thing by ourselves. Just because we have the presence of the Holy Spirit, the example of Jesus, and the word of the Father, doesn’t mean we instinctively know how to harness the potential of all of that.
That’s why mature Christians are commanded to seek and counsel those young in the faith. And new believers are told to walk alongside those who’ve been on the path a while. In theory, we all should be reaching a helping hand forward and backward at the same time—to be a somewhat-absorbent conduit of insight and encouragement.
So, whose hands are you holding right now?
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