Testimonials are a great tool to tell potential customers what people say about your service. Requesting for testimonials can be awkward as that customer may not have liked your service in the first place. So when our clients offer or agree to write a testimonial about our service, we value it immensely.
Now, while testimonials are a great marketing tool, I treat it like a treasure hunt where I look for themes or nuggets of gold that customers value about our business. As business owners, we sometimes think we know what we're good at but knowing and demonstrating it to your clients may be two different things. As I studied the themes about our clients' testimonials, it allowed me two tweak, emphasise, or promote those themes. For instance, several customers have pointed out our Good to Great page. Prior to labelling it "Good to Great," those pages were named "Before and After" until one day, a participant in a presentation I was making commented that what I was showing were not "Before and After" photos where the Before photos were clearly bad and not taken within the same time frame. He said that what I was showing in my photos were the process of how we make good images even better.
Another recurring theme among our testimonials was the mention of the atmosphere in the studio. Because most of our clients enter the premises a bit tense and wary of the outcome (going to us have been likened to going to the dentist), we try our best to put them at ease using various methods depending on the type of client we have. It is a spontaneous approach that feeds off the personality of the client in front of us.
The last theme I want to share is the mention of the team among the testimonials. Our process is very much a team approach, with each one knowing his or her role in the process. The client is very much a part of that team as there is a collaboration between us and the client to get to the best headshot photo that represents him or her. Our client below, Lizzie from Writesphere, used the word 'astute' in her testimonial about us. The choice of the word is relevant and specific to our process.
Testimonials will vary from business to business. If your testimonial is sounding like that of someone else, then what will make customers choose you over them? Ultimately, the value of a testimonial lies in pointing out a business' point of difference versus that of its competitors. It highlights what makes a business unique and what is working within the business. Once a business owner catches these nuggets, then it allows him to hone in on these to reach his target audience.
I was asked to write a blog in a networking website that told the story on how I got into business networking. I was then asked by the PR company handling the article to submit a photo. While I would have given a headshot photo of myself and that of Allan's, we decided to do an environmental portrait of ourselves to show people where we work and the tools we work with.
We call the portrait above an environmental portrait. The elements within the portrait help in creating context by which the reader understands what the people on the photo are all about. With enough imagination, one need not always fall into an obvious choice for an element within work environment, e.g., a photography business needs to show a person holding a camera.
In our own environmental portrait, we want to communicate our personality and approach as a business (our clients would know that it is a team effort) while at the same time showing the critical tools of trade we use. We are also showing the atmosphere that our clients will encounter when they engage our services.
Creating context for an environmental portrait still boils down to understanding the identity of the client and brand personality of the business. When an environmental portrait is done with honesty and creativity, it makes the photo resonate with the client's target audience and mirrors the experience potential customers are bound to have with the company.
Headshot Shoot for a professional who wears two hats.
Gone are the days when people did only one thing as a profession as they discover abilities to make a living in more than one field. Our client currently has two professions.
Her customers are very different in each of them. In her first profession, she has a home business that deals with homeowners needing plumbing and drainage services. Her chosen photo is shown below.
In her second profession, she deals mostly with business owners and people in the commercial sector. Hence, she chose a photo that will resonate more to this audience.
While both images present her well, we can tell that it is communicating to different people and those people would have different objectives.
Purpose and audience driven whilst espousing believability - that's who we are as photographers.
In case you don't know it yet, people 'Google' you. If you're in the habit of meeting business people 'blindly,' then you know the importance of having updated professional headshots.
This fact was evident in one of the business meetings I had. The person I was supposed to meet entered the cafe and at the start, I wasn't sure it was him but I smiled anyway. He didn't smile back so I thought I was probably wrong. Oh well, no harm in trying.
Then I saw him on the phone seemingly looking through something and then looked around the room. In a minute or so, I saw him in front of me and said hi. He first apologised and then told me that he went to my website to see how I looked like and then realised that I was the person who smiled at him. This was the screen he looked at in our website.
At Identity Headshots, we have been espousing believability and truth in our photos. Sure, we need to present ourselves well but it must be to a level of credibility both in the photo and in person. This is an approach that not many will be able to readily accept as we are constantly bombarded with the notion of flawlessness and perfection (from a personal perspective) on social media. How we look like on a normal business day (I'm sure you get into a grooming routine before you go to your workplace) should not be far from how we look on our photo. For instance, I am not a person who wears a lot of make up due to allergies so I feel I should not be seen in heavy make up on my photo.
Regarding hairstyles, I have a pretty straightforward style so I kept it similar to that. I remember my very first professional headshot when I had some curls when I didn't have those everyday and it felt off so I changed that photo straight away. The photo below is what I'm talking about.
If you or someone you know is involved in a business or profession where those blind business meetings happen on a regular basis, it pays to check your LinkedIn, website and even the photos of yourself that come up on Google. If it's far from reality, then it pays to get that headshot updated asap. Just for fun, I 'Googled' myself and this is what came out. You should try it sometime.
Our job as a headshot photographer becomes easier when our clients know a lot about their customers.
During our recent trip to the US, we did headshots for the LinkedIn profile of my sister and brother-in-law's business. They own a pet care business which includes pet boarding, dog walking, pet sitting and grooming among others.
The purpose of the headshot session is to have a professional profile photo on LinkedIn as some of their customers' associates would like to access them via that media. The normal recourse was to show them in their company uniform but in this case, the objective was to show the owners behind the company who personally run the company themselves. Trustworthiness, premium, approachability, care and confidence were just among the adjectives we had to show in the headshot photos.
By giving us concrete examples of their customers and their customers' expectations, we were guided accordingly. We avoided generic descriptions. For instance, when we spoke of trustworthiness, we were told that the level of trustworthiness should be at a level where you would entrust valuables to the person.
When we were told that the photo needed to look confident, we had to make sure that the confidence resonated with somebody who is already very successful in business.
The perfect match to any professional headshot is not done by satisfying ourselves but by satisfying the expectation of our client's customers. After all, they're the ones who will say "yay" or "nay" to our client's business.