Telling the truth about SME life today

By using real images of customers youll turbo-charge sales

For businesses looking to grow, a stand-out marketing strategy is essential and a picture really is worth a thousand words, enabling companies to communicate clearly with consumers – and make an impact. A study conducted by Internet Retailer found that visitors who view product videos are 85 per cent more likely to buythan visitors who do not.

However, to engage an audience the key is a relevant story. Consumers want a personal experience when they interact with brands and therefore using content which is pertinent to your audience in your campaigns is absolutely key. Its for this reason that many brands are embracing content produced by their customers themselves, in a bid to get closer to their audience and become more in touch with their community.

Urban Outfitters is one brand turning to their community to source images. The clothes retailer encourages customers to share photos of themselves wearing its products on Instagram and then uses these images in its marketing. By opting for images taken by its customers, instead of relying on glamorous models and high-end studio shots, Urban Outfitters speaks to its target audience directly with content which truly reflects them.

However, you dont need the big brand following to gather content successfully. Another business using photos from the public as part of their marketing strategy is independent menu design company, To help create a campaign around the importance of impactful visuals, they take pictures of good and bad menus across the globe. Not only is this raising the profile of a fairly niche business, it’s helping to identify restaurants that might be interested in using their service.

Sainsburys Christmas ad is another example of a brand tapping into the publics personal photo album. It tells the story of Christmas Day in Britain through a carefully edited patchwork of home videos. The film took 14 months to create from over 360 hours of real footage submitted by 114 families all over the UK. The real element creates an entertaining story and builds a bond with shoppers, encouraging long-term brand loyalty, as the public sees their own Christmas traditions in the marketing.

Becoming more relevant and building brand loyalty is a powerful reason why brands should get real and embrace photo and video content produced by the public in their marketing. These images and videos truly reflect your customers so it’s right that they are at the heart of your brand. Traditionally, brands have sourced the images they need of customers by buying photos, however stock photo libraries can feel stale or staged and images are often over-used. Standing out through creative marketing is becoming increasingly challenging for businesses, but by using real photos to tell stories, you can connect with customers. Your customer is your most powerful marketing tool; their endorsement and engagement is worth its weight in gold.

PetriRahja is founder and CEO of Scoopshot

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