Creating an IMAGE of Quality in Your Marketing

By Eric Wickham

 Most businesses use photography in their brochures or on web sites, and we all read about the importance of video to increase SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  The saying that “a picture speaks a thousand words” is certainly not dead today. The question is to what degree does quality impact the perceptions of visitors to a web site, audiences during a speaking engagement, or potential customers looking at a video. What builds trust and interest in you and your business?

 Statistics show that three hours after a presentation only 70 percent of people can remember content presented verbal, but the retention of information reinforced with visual content is much higher after three hours: 85 percent, according to a California State University study.  The impact of visual aids on the retention of content in a speech is even more impressive after three days. Sixty-percent of listeners can remember visually enhanced content, compared with only 10 percent remembering exclusively verbal presentations. Obviously, there is value in photography and video.

In a case study on Visual Web Site Optimizer (, a company which provides analysis tools, a seller of Brazilian and Caribbean art online tested using screenshots of paintings verses photos of the artists. The company found that if the paintings were replaced with artists’ photos, they experienced an increase in conversion rate of more than 95%.  Visual Web Site Optimizer describes another study where a blogger replaced a contact icon with his own photo. The version with his photo had 48% more conversions as compared to generic icon. Obviously, the personnel human connection can make a significant difference.

In our business much of our success has been in the photography we do to support business portraiture, whether it be the common head shot, the executive team group photos, or the close ups of an employee at work. As the prime contractor for military personnel photography, you can imagine what the word “quality” means to an Admiral or an officer for an official Department of Defense promotion photo or a command for special event coverage.

When we think of quality for a business trying to maintain or build a brand, it amazes me how often people just don’t think about the poor graphic or other visual that says absolutely nothing to support their story or the message they wish to convey. Regardless of the themes or techniques of images used, quality and consistency is the key to creating and maintaining a professional image. Each time a client or customer receives or looks at something from your company—website, marketing material, a proposal, an invoice—he or she forms a mental image of the company. When all of your media and documents share a similar look, the content works together to send the message that your company is organized, professional and attentive.

It easy for a company to overlook the quality factor of what they are using for visuals. Most frequently we see six big mistakes which commonly impact the image of a company.


Probably the number one mistake is having the wrong people in charge of the project, (revisions cost more than conception). What happened to one of our clients is typical how a company can waste time and money. The company was using media images produced by a friend for its web presence and marketing material and wondering why it was being left behind in the Trade Show arena. The quality of the company’s product was evident but was not conveyed due to the lack of quality images and marketing material. A high-speed, three-week redesign of trade show material resulted in an approximately 500% ROI and continues to increase due to the proper media layout and dynamic image that was created to draw in the crowd at the very next Trade Show attended.

So in light of making changes to the way you view quality in your marketing and realizing your budget may not warrant major changes all at once, what can you do? Here are just a few tips…

Formulate a plan and priorities for improvement even if it is just a wish list. Take time to research what you like and don’t like in your industry across the country.

 -Ensure the project manager is actually in tune to that plan and what the company CEO or owner wants and that it is in the vision. Revision costs more than initial planning and conception. The smallest details can be deadly.  Case in point, a product shoot was done in the studio which met all the parameters given by the product manager and met all contractual requirements. The project manager was very happy. I was paid. Hours later I find out the CEO had a particular background in mind, a sunset shot with water in the background. That small detail which we didn’t know and thus, was not contracted in the cost meant another half day of fees and expenses to produce the image required by the CEO.

 -Be open to creativity.  It is not uncommon during a media project that we will deviate slightly from the intended images requested. As an artist and a marketing professional, sometimes I will see an image or concept in my head that will have its place in your marketing program.  It is that objective moment from a professional who is not so close to your business that can improve a visual concept.

 –Only used full time, licensed professionals. Currently the state of the media industry is filled of unlicensed individuals trying to make a quick buck. This will cost you more money and time and prove ineffective in your marketing. Use a resource that you can trust and will be around for the long haul. A licensed professional studio has made the same commitment to provide a quality product and service as you have towards your customers. So if you, for example, have ten products you need to have images for your online catalog, you may find Joe photographer on craigslist who is cheap because he has not become licensed, is not insured, doesn’t have a studio, He may even provide quality work, yet the next time you contact him, he may be out of business, leaving you to find another photographer whose photography, side by side with the previous photos, lacks consistency in lighting or quality due to differences in equipment.


It is not as simple as “I want an image or video of this”. As media consultants, we have to know the details of the intended use and how it ties into the marketing product. A good media image or video needs to have the ability to be used as a standalone item and work in harmony with graphics or text which surrounds it, whether is a web based item or print or visual media.

If you plan for your visuals, give a media professional the information needed before receiving an estimate of cost, and develop a strategy together for implementation, you will be much happier with the final results.