There’s a photo that gets used in our marketing materials at my day job that occasionally gets to me — and not in a good way. It’s not a major issue, but just a minor irritation that makes me think twice when I see it.
It gets to me because it doesn’t resonate. And I suspect that it fails to resonate with others who see it, too. The disconnect is because it doesn’t reflect the photo’s intended audience. The demographic is slightly off. The setting is slightly off. And, that’s all it takes for marketing materials to create their own uncanny valley – looking slightly off is sometimes worse than looking totally off.
I get the allure of stock photos in production. They’re easy and relatively cheap to use. And, often, the production value of the photos is pretty darn good — especially among healthcare-related photos.
But, as the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Here are 42 words that your stock art could be saying to your audience:
- “We don’t quite understand who you are.”
- “We don’t quite understand what you do.”
- “We’re not that worried about investing in targeting you specifically.”
- “Yes, we’ve seen this photo in other publications, ads and marketing materials, too. Funny, huh?”
Like reactions to the uncanny valley, though, these reactions probably aren’t explicit. It’s more likely that the stock photo images will just slide past the reader without grabbing them or feeling relevant. And isn’t the grabbing and relevance what we’re going for?
The ease and cost-effectiveness of stock art often don’t pass the ROI sniff test.
That’s why I’m excited that we’re shooting new photos of actual audience members doing their actual jobs next week — using an actual professional photographer. Does it take some extra budget? Sure. Does it take time to set up? Definitely.
But I’m confident that the end, we’ll have dozens of images — if not more – that grab our readers and implicitly say “we get you and we get what you do.”
And, hopefully, I’ll replace that irritating photo in the process.
Have you had good experiences with stock art? Bad ones? Leave them in the comments!