Your words are powerful things – and so are the images that your business uses. Put those two things together, and you’ve got a magic combination, as I wrote last week.
It’s something that I talk about with clients, business owners and marketing colleagues a lot. So this week, I’ve collaborated with a very talented photographer, Nick Cole. The outcome? I have something a little different for you today: we wanted to explore why business owners can get in their own way when it comes to accepting help. I know I’ve been there!
Here’s our take on the power of a thoughtful message, how to convey it, and why handing over your words and photos to someone else won’t destroy the integrity of your brand.
Hope you find it helpful!
Copy that sounds like you; photographs that capture your personality… really!
Ready to take your business to the next level, but worried about handing over control of your marketing? It can be scary to let someone else in. The good news is, it is possible to get copy that sounds like you and images that capture you and your business, from people who are not part of it. It’s less about handing over control, more about embarking on a creative, collaborative process.
Look, we get it. When you started your business, perhaps you didn’t have as many clients to look after as you do now. No doubt at the start cash was tight and time relatively inexpensive. But what got you here isn’t going to take you there.
Don’t worry, you have a professional copywriter and photographer on hand to walk through your fears and worries. We’ll explain the benefits of working with professionals – and why the results may surprise you. Here’s how handing over your words and images makes your business look and feel more like you.
Your business – an upward trajectory?
Things have changed since you started your company. Maybe you’ve taken on more clients, expanded your reach, or hired people.
You’re ready to embrace a more professional look and feel for your business. But perhaps you don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you’ve spoken to a couple of copywriters and some photographers, yet haven’t felt sure enough to take the plunge.
Fears and worries about getting help with your marketing
As a business owner, letting someone else in to help can feel strange. Do any of these fears sound familiar?
You’ve thought about asking a copywriter to help… but what if the words don’t sound like you?
What if the photographer’s images don’t capture you or your brand as you imagined?
Perhaps you’re worried about handing control to someone else?
Do you often find yourself caught in a cycle of researching, procrastinating or doing nothing?
Sidestep the frustration of DIY, take your business forwards
If your business is growing, take heart; you’re obviously doing something right. Yet managing everything you need to do is hard.
Some of the frustrations clients report to us before we begin work, are:
Having to put other priorities above marketing
Not generating the right leads, or too few of them
Spending hours researching how to write copy or shoot photography – only to be disappointed with the results
We’ve given our take on how to overcome your concerns and accept a little professional marketing help.
Copywriting: If I don’t write the words myself, it won’t sound like me or my business…
This is the most common objection I hear when clients are thinking of working with me.
It’s a perfectly understandable concern. After all, I’m not you! I’m not your business. Like any other copywriter, photographer, graphic designer, or marketing expert, I am a professional.
And it is my business, to sound like your business. It’s a skill, like any other, that is developed with use.
How can a copywriter sound like your business?
I’ll spend time getting to know you, your business and understanding your audience too. I’ll ask questions about the project you have in mind and I’ll also ask about any marketing strategy documents you may have. For example, your business values, mission and vision. Finally, once I have a good understanding of your business, I’ll ask about your brand tone of voice.
You’ve probably already developed a tone of voice for your brand through writing for your business day-in, day-out. You may have documented it, or it may simply be in your head. Either way, it’s my job to dig it out.
What happens when you’re busy and you can’t do the writing?
Ah. There’s the rub.
A copywriter, whether a hired pen or a staff member, will be able to write in a way that sounds like the business. Being able to pick up on verbal nuances, variations in tone and style is a skill, one that copywriters hone through continued use.
What’s the copywriting process?
There are three stages to any copywriting project:
We’ll have an initial conversation: you can outline what you’re looking for, and I’ll explain how I can help
I’ll take a detailed brief at this point. I’ll ask lots of questions, for example:
i. What your key message is?
ii. What’s the purpose of the copy?
iii. Where the copy will be used?
If you have any existing Tone of Voice guidelines, they will be helpful to see. Likewise, sharing your values, mission and vision is really helpful, so I can ensure the overall tone of the copy is in line with your business as a whole
I’ll go away and write the copy; you’ll then have an opportunity to provide feedback. If any tweaks to the copy or tone are needed, I’ll make them before you sign the work off
While the prospect of tasking someone else with what you have so far done yourself can seem daunting, the process is designed to be painless. Moreover, it’s a front-loaded process. By investing a little of your time and business insight at the beginning, it creates a stronger brief, which gives me a better chance of writing excellent copy that sounds like your brand.
Photography captures the essence of your business
Showing the world what you do with headshot or storytelling photography for some is straightforward. But for many, it’s uncharted territory and it can be so uncomfortable they avoid it altogether.
People buy from people. So the initial connection you create with an engaging image is essential if you want to draw the reader in and encourage them to find out more about you and the services you offer.
If you run your own business or manage a small team, while it may feel uncomfortable, it’s important to embrace your fears. It’s a bit like a swim in the sea in spring, it’s a bit daunting but worth it once you’ve taken the plunge!
Business photography: what are your options?
You could do a selfie or get a friend to help, but more often than not, the results are disappointing and the quality isn’t good enough for commercial use.
A professional headshot and personal branding photographer, on the other hand, will guide and collaborate with you. They’ll create bespoke content that’s aligned with your business and your target audience.
With headshots and personal branding photography, the photoshoot is just one part of the process. It’s important to invest some time in the planning stage so you’re clear on the objectives.
Most projects can be broken down into three simple stages.
1) The planning stage
It’s essential to get to know you, the business and what you’re hoping to achieve.
This is a collaborative process where we explore…
Your core message and how you want to come across.
How you feel about having your photo taken.
The style of photography.
Where the images will be used, for example digital, web, social or print.
Any graphic design elements that need to be considered.
Occasionally the planning stage highlights areas that require more clarification. It’s best to step back and check the direction at this point, rather than further down the line. Only when you have a clear brief should you move forwards to the photo session.
There’s a subtle but important difference with photography versus other services such as copywriting or graphic design. Modern editing technology gives us plenty of options to adjust the final image, but it’s never a replacement for getting the lighting, posing and composition right when we take the photo.
Put another way, the time spent planning and preparing up front is crucial to the success of the project, as there are some elements you just can’t fix afterwards.
2) The photo session
This is where we draw on all the outputs from the planning stage and we capture the images. You’re clear on the location, outfit choices, the style of photography, any fears or concerns you have about being in front of the camera and how the images will be used.
It can also be great fun and by relaxing and really getting involved, you’ll add the energy and connection that’s an essential part of successful personal branding photography.
3) The edit and delivery of your photography
The edit is where we choose the strongest images and enhance and prepare them for their end-use. You may need the highest resolution possible for a print project or an image that’s been optimised for quality and a fast upload on your website.
It may seem scary at the start, but with careful planning you’ll end up with a set of bespoke images that are fit for purpose, feel authentic and you feel proud to share.
Make sure your copywriting and your photography present a united front
Ok, so your copy is singing and your photography is glowing. But are they doing so in unison?
Copywriting and photography, on their own, are creative and collaborative processes. It’s a collaboration between client and professional, sharing a vision to create something that shows your business in its best light.
That doesn’t change when working on the words and images together. In fact, it’s absolutely critical that your words and images are aligned.
Make sure your words and images work together
Words and images need to work together. If they convey different messages, it creates a disconnect between the two which doesn’t help your audience.
It’s like booking a room at a place that calls itself an ‘upmarket hotel’, only to arrive and find shabby décor and threadbare carpets. There’s a disconnect between the expectation and the experience. It’s confusing, disappointing and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Now imagine how confusing it would be to your clients if your copy describes your business as a ‘professional wedding planning service’, and all the images on your site are of birthday parties. That’s a pretty obvious difference.
The disconnect can be subtler too – “professional accountants” whose LinkedIn headshot is of them in the pub, for instance. That’s why it’s so important to align the message portrayed through your words and images. A little forethought gives your photographer and your copywriter half a chance of conveying a united message across both media.
There’s no hard sell
Your copywriter and your photographer – individually and together – have your best interests at heart. There’s no pressure, no hard sell. It’s about collaboration, finding the vision you want to achieve and bringing it to life. And if you’re not quite sure what you want, need, or if you could do with some guidance, your creative team will be able to make suggestions, provide options and give their professional opinion.
Every business is unique and so is every client. The approach is tailored accordingly, a bespoke service for every project undertaken. And don’t think you need to keep your copywriter and photographer apart from one another. In terms of alignment and fulfilling a creative brief, it will be greatly beneficial for them to speak to one another.
If you know a copywriter but not a photographer, or vice versa, ask if they can recommend anyone. And if you’re looking for a readymade creative team, well, those are available too!
Words and images that capture your brand
Your copy and photography are the two most important aspects of your marketing. Get them right and there’s every chance you’ll convey the exact message you’d like to your prospects and clients.
Planning is critical to the success of your copy and photography. Being clear about your goals and the message you want to convey will give stronger results
Alignment between your copy and images is critical. They go together like strawberries and cream, fish and chips, Ant and Dec. If one element is off-brand, it derails the whole thing
Your hard work has brought you this far; you’re skilled at what you do and more than capable of running a successful business. And as you move forwards to the next stage of your journey, you don’t have to do everything yourself.
Here’s what a client of mine said recently when he decided to make use of some professional copywriting support:
How can I help you?
If you have a project in mind, get in touch. The right copy makes your message ring loud and clear, in the right tone, so that it connects with your audience.
And finally, ask yourself…
If a copywriter and a photographer could deliver the ideal project for your business, what new opportunities might the right marketing material bring you?
Your words matter,
The Weekly Writing Reflection
Each week I share an inspirational quote and a writing prompt. The idea is for you to spend a moment doing some active reflection through writing.
Your quote is:
"Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard."
- Albert Camus
And your writing prompt, if you’d like to use one:
… is the most beautiful … because …
What’s caught my eye this week
Each and every week I’ll share a few snippets of inspiration, thought-provocation and jubilation. Hand-curated delights, selected by yours truly to stimulate your mind and soothe your soul.
A newsletter for the culturally curious – I’ve mentioned Emma from BrazilArte’s work before. If you’re interested in culture, learning and would quite like a weekly dose of inspiration dropping into your inbox, sign up.
Social media – love it or hate it, it’s a part of our lives. So, have you ever been mean to someone online? No, that’s not you – is it...? That’s what this writer thought too. A thoughtful piece aimed at freelancers, but with some pertinent questions we could probably all do with answering.
That’s all for this week!
I’m away next Friday, so I’ll see you back here in a fortnight. Have a brilliant week!