Thoughts, stories and tips from Team Perfocal.

If you sell physical products, you're in the market for professional photography. You don't need anybody to tell you this. One thing we all need a reminder of, however, is to update our product photography. How often it's refreshed is up to you, and it'll probably depend on one (or a mix) of the five factors below. Whether you're brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, doesn't matter. Grab that cup of coffee, a pen and a pad, and your marketing manager. Here we go.

Reason 1: Localise your product photography to your target market

I'm looking at you, dropshippers, e-commerce entrepreneurs, and dare I say it, network marketers. This is essential if you're receiving your products from one or more "mother" organisations, especially if the products and accompanying promotional materials aren't being produced in your market.

Imagine you're a UK-based business selling furniture produced in France. What are tables usually made out of these days, wicker? Don't answer that, you're British and these tables are made in France. The most popular table material over there is "chêne", did you know that? That means oak, so maybe you did.

Anyways, you're selling oak tables made in France. The design is great, they're sturdy enough to hold a cup of tea, and everyone's going to love them. When the promotional materials arrive, you're in awe. They're clean images of the oak table on a 7th-floor outdoor balcony, creeper wrapping around the steel railing, and the Eiffel Tower in the background.

I'm sure you see the problem, but I'm going to summarise it in one sentence: your consumer needs to see your product in a UK context where they can imagine themselves using it. Next!

Reason 2: Gauge consumer responses to different product photography

This one's seemingly self-explanatory but I'm going to describe it because it is SO important.

If you've been in business for a while, you may have heard of the term "A/B testing". You can do it on your website, your Facebook adverts and, you guessed it, your promotional material. Put simply, it means you make version A and version B of something and test to see which gets the best response. For example, I'm very conversational in this article but I may be very formal in the next one (let me know which you prefer in the comments). Whichever gets the best response wins.

Big secret time: the key to boosting your sales might be new imagery. That photo of your products with a plain white background might not be cutting it, and simply adding props could be your golden ticket. Inversely, that photo of your products with props might not be cutting it, and simply changing to a clean, pure white background could be your golden ticket.

I don't have the answer, and neither do you...Until you test it, that is. So make it a goal to do product photography shoots at least twice a year if you can. If you can do it four times a year, even better. If that sounds like there aren't enough ways to shoot a product that often, don't worry - with Perfocal, you can include different styles of photography into each shoot. Now's the time to update that LinkedIn profile picture. But also, there are more than enough ways to shoot a product. A lot more ways to do product photography than you think.

Which leads us to...

Your products are like a website - you don't want them to look like they're from the 90s. Quote me on that.

If you want to see a company that's doing a stellar job with contemporary product imagery, check out Caleño Drinks, a Bristol-based non-alcoholic gin company. Their imagery and styling is on fleek. I shouldn't have said that because, according to MTV, the phrase "on fleek" died in 2016. Relevancy matters. Product imagery is exactly the same.

If you haven't refreshed your product imagery for more than a year, take a long hard look yourself and give yourself a compliment because self-care is important and running a business is hard. But then take a long hard look at your products and compare them to other product trends you see emerging these days. If you've gradually fallen behind the curve, get ahold of a professional product photographer, show them what you like, and make sure you get your products back on that horse.

Product photography, by the way, doesn't have to be nor should it be a DIY job. You'll spend literal days reading all the tips for DIY product photography, and at the end of the day you'll still need to spend thousands of pounds on a professional camera. Product photography on an iPhone won't cut it, trust me. Hiring a professional photographer to do it is much cheaper, much quicker, and much higher quality. Don't add more to your plate than you've already got.

Reason 4: New product photography = fresh promotional content

Every one of us can think of a company that uses the same images over and over again. It gets stale. Even Coca-Cola, one of the biggest companies in the world, is eternally refreshing their product photography and all they've really got is a can. They're not doing that because spending money is fun - they're doing it because it actually engages customers.

Think of yourself at Christmas time. Imagine your loved one bought you the same blue sweater every year. Boring, right? Now imagine they bought you the same sweater every year but in a different colour. Hey hey, now we're talking. That's living.

Jokes aside: stop giving your audience the blue sweater treatment. Make sure it's Christmas for them twice a year at the minimum, especially if you're promoting your business a lot with photos of your products front-and-centre. Next.

Reason 5: Stand out from the crowd with unique product photography

Okay in the first point I only really addressed the e-commerce entrepreneurs. Now I'm talking to you, dropshippers and network marketers! But mostly dropshippers. If you're not in this category, feel free to scroll past here and look at my blue sweater in my profile picture and leave a comment. Others, keep reading!

Your products and the associated promotional material comes from the big mama companies, I get it. It's easy to just copy paste those images to your website and assume you're going to get a good return. I'm also aware that the act of "holding inventory" goes against the very nature of dropshipping. I get it.

But so do your customers. They know what's up when they visit your site. If you're selling perfumes and the promotional imagery on your website was very clearly made by L'Oreal, I guarantee this question will pass through your website visitor's mind: Why would I buy from here instead of the actual company? Are they copying?

Instead, order some of the products you're selling and create your own promotional material. A big tip is to take a wide-shot of all the products you're selling as a collective. It's "evidence" (or perceived to be) that you've got products in-stock and aren't selling items bit-by-bit as orders come in...even though you are. It's all about perception. Blue sweaters everyone, I'm telling you.

So, if you've decided to refresh your product photography after all that - how much does it cost?

£99 for an hour of unlimited photos taken by a professional photographer. :) You don't need an elaborate setup either with studios and camera rigs; you can do the shoots in comfort of your home or at your office. When you book the shoot for your business, simply make sure to detail what kind of shoot you're looking for and it'll be ready in a snap - included with a professional photographer and equipment, props excluded.

Product photography is there to grow your revenue - not break your bank. It's an investment worth making...at least twice a year. So why not get 2021 off to a strong start? :)