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In this age of marketing and social media, companies with the best visual appeal have the advantage. Strong photos capture a viewer’s attention.
With Google, Yelp, Angie’s List and other Internet marketing platforms, consumers have grown impatient in their search for service companies. It is so easy for potential customers to bounce off your website or profile page and move on to the next company.
If you want to attract customers, you must persuade them, quickly, that you have what they are looking for.
Good photos powerfully communicate in seconds what would take pages of copy to convey.
Consumers, however, are aware that many photos they see are purchased stock photos. They want to know what your company actually looks like. I am not talking about your equipment. They want to know what you look like, what type of homes you work in and how you perform the services offered. They don’t want to be surprised when their cleaner shows up at their door.
Companies that use good photos of their business and the work they perform are more persuasive in their marketing.
Creating these photos is relatively easy. A photo shoot to capture these pictures takes only about two hours plus some planning time. In fact, you probably already have the photographic equipment needed.
The photos in this article were taken during a shoot I did with several cleaners. We found working as a team an enjoyable experience, and we were we able to share the responsibilities. You may want to consider inviting an industry friend to work with you on your photo shoot.
What you need:
- A location that represents your target market’s home.
- Someone to work the camera.
- Your sparkling clean equipment that you use in the home.
- Ideally, a person to model as your target customer.
Choose your stage home with care. Include in your photos enough of the interior and exterior to let your target customers know that you work in homes just like theirs.
The day of the photo shoot will not be the time to actually clean that home. You can always offer to do some free cleaning for the homeowner later as a thank you for letting you use the house for pictures.
A professional photographer and special lighting are not required. Current smartphones and digital cameras do an amazing job of adjusting for lighting.
The secret is to take lots of pictures and then choose the best. Shoot from many angles and include the surrounding room. The photos can later be cropped to include only what you want. Digital pictures cost nothing, so click away.
The equipment and the technician in the photos should look their best. Be sure to include appropriate support tools such as drop cloths, corner guards or booties to convey the message that you take the necessary precautions when working in a home.
On the other hand, eliminate rags hanging from the back pocket and unnecessary hoses or tools in the pictures. It helps to have the technician actually going through the motions of cleaning when taking the pictures.
It is often worth the effort to find someone to model as a consumer. These can become some of the most persuasive photos. Take pictures while the cleaner is actually discussing the job with the model as would take place on a real job.
Take time to plan ahead and make a list of desired shots. Consider which rooms you want to use and which services you will be performing for the camera.
It can be revealing to take and review some preliminary pictures of each area. You may discover items in the background that should be removed or furniture that could be adjusted. This is also a good way to confirm that the lighting is sufficient.
Have your cleaning equipment ready and sparkling before you start the actual photo shoot.
Suggested action shots
With the consumer:
- Greeting at the door.
- Conversing while doing a pre-inspection of each service.
- Collecting payment and leaving the invoice.
- A head and shoulder shot of you in your uniform, smiling; look the way you would when a customer sees you at the door.
- Perform each service you offer.
- Capture each step of the process. For example: Measuring, pre-vacuuming, pre-conditioning, using various cleaning tools (wand, stair tool, power tool), applying protector, placing plastic tabs under furniture legs and grooming.
- Do these services in different rooms, if possible.
Before wrapping up:
- Quickly look through photos and see if any should be retaken.
- Carefully review your list of planned pictures to make sure you did not forget any.
- Return the house to its original condition.
- Review all photos and choose the best two of each scene.
- Crop the photos to convey the best message.
- Edit out any distractions from the pictures.
- Remember, you are looking for good, not perfect.
Be sure to personally thank all of the people that helped you with this process. Send handwritten “Thank You” notes to the homeowner and model.
Use the photos
These photos are only good if you put them to use.
Yelp allows you to post an unlimited number of photos to your company profile page — at no charge. Angie’s List allows up to three photos at no charge.
Your webmaster should appreciate having real pictures to include on the website.
Use them on your newsletter, brochure, business card, blog and social media pages.
The photos you capture should become a valuable asset and provide a huge marketing advantage. Few of your competitors are going to make the same effort.
Consumers will reward you for providing pictures that will remove some the mystery of hiring a new service company.
Not only is a photo shoot fun, it may be the most valuable two hours you spend on marketing.
Steve Marsh is the creator of the Be Competition Free Marketing Program. He is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor, and a Senior Carpet Inspector. Marsh is a marketing and business consultant who helps owners build their companies to attract higher quality customers. For more information, visit www.BeCompetitionFree.com.