Five Photo Shoot Tips for the Perfect Website
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If you’re giving your website a makeover, an investment in photos of your actual team (as opposed to tacky stock photos) is a great way to give it a personalized feeling. I look at advisor websites all day long and here is what to do (and more importantly) what to avoid to have it come out like the perfect Ansel Adams.
- Do it
First of all, have a picture of yourself.
You have no idea how many advisors get this wrong. I’ve heard every excuse in the book from “I’m camera shy” or “I’m planning to lose 20 pounds.”
Look, you’re asking people to open Pandora’s Box and reveal every intimate financial detail of their lives to you including their plans to divorce their spouse of 30 years and social security numbers.
And you can’t even show them a picture of yourself sitting at your desk in a suit?
Get over it and show that you are a real person. When it comes to physical flaws, we all have them. It doesn’t matter if your hair is grayer than you want or if you don’t look like you did 20 years ago. If I can’t see your eyes then I don’t trust you. It helps getting over being camera shy if you find a photographer who knows what he or she is doing. They can help you minimize any flaws.
Have this professionally done – no “selfies” with a cell phone.
- Be consistent
Nothing is more jarring than brand inconsistency. If you have a larger firm this is hard to do, as you constantly have people coming and going.
Avoid having your employee headshots in front of different backgrounds by designating a “picture spot” in your office. It should be a place that isn’t likely to change. For example, don’t do this in the conference room where you put the Christmas tree or holiday decorations. Avoid photos that look like a “mug shot” on plain white background.
One last word on harmony is the issue of height. I have one client where one team member is easily a head taller than everyone else and the photos of everyone standing side by side look strange. If there are major height differences then sit down or take the pictures on stairs.
- Look like you could afford the service clients will be paying for
While you financial advisors always looks great in the Armani suit you put on in your pictures, here’s the mistake that all of you are making.
A company’s brand is only as strong as its weakest member. How is your administrative assistant dressed? How about your intern? Or the 23-year old junior portfolio operations officer who processes the trades? Everybody represents the brand, not just the head honcho. Reign them in with a photo shoot briefing and tell them to refrain from the following:
- Adorning wrinkled clothes. If you can’t iron your clothes, what makes me think you’re going to carefully handle my millions? Shows poor attention to detail. Clothes can get wrinkled on the way to work, so I always recommend people bring at least two suits or outfits to work that day. Also, make sure your office has an emergency kit with iron, thread and needle, etc. to patch up any last minute faux pas.
- Mix and match, or “separates” – suits should be a two-piece matching top and bottom. Differences in patterns, textures, and even the hue of the fabric become very pronounced on camera.
- Women should wear nylons. While many companies have loosened up their dress codes, financial services is not one of them. Even if you’re trying to be the “cool” financial advisor company, going bare is not the way to convey that.
- Cover up the cleavage. Yes, I said it. No level of cleavage is acceptable for a work photo in this industry. Period. Your shirt or dress should be at least two inches above the cleavage. People aren’t coming to your firm to have fun; any attention to this area of your body is unwanted.
- Don’t wear bold colors without coordinating. This can work if you’re a solopreneur or the only one in the photo shoot, but you want everyone to harmonize. It’s easy to do if everyone wears navy blue, black, or gray. If you’ve got people showing up in neon pink, lime green, and fire-engine red, think about what a chaotic Picasso you look like. If you’re going to allow your team to dress in rainbow colors then plan ahead so you don’t clash.
People, rich and poor, judge how much money you make based upon how you dress. It’s harsh, but true. I’m not saying you should be fake but you should avoid looking like you’re on a different socioeconomic level than the people you are trying to reach.
- Do something interesting
Financial advisors all tell me that they’re the most customized, personalized, thoughtful investment advisor business ever to grace the Earth.
So why is it, then, that in every photo every single financial advisor is doing one of the following?:
- Sitting at a desk looking at a graph;
- Sitting across from an elderly couple;
- SStanding up at a conference room table talking to a group; or
- Shaking hands with someone else
I’m not saying you have to do these “power poses” like standing with your arms folded across your chest to evoke some feng shui, but for goodness sake, don’t be so boring!
If you’re going to claim that you are different from the pack, then do something creative and show people that you are. Example: try holding something interesting. If you wrote a book, get a hard copy of it. If you have a company tagline, have each person at the company hold a word of it on a piece of paper.
- Exclude high-turnover employees
There’s nothing that freaks affluent people out more than thinking they are handing over their account to someone who might be walking the street next month and taking their personal info with them. Don’t play into that by having people on your website who don’t work there anymore.
So how exactly do you exclude an employee who doesn’t know that he or she may be a candidate for the pink slip? You don’t. Just make sure to casually make a duplicate photo of the same shot without him or her.
Sara’s upshot on photo shoots
Images are the biggest part of a website and they say more about your brand than any words you would use. A good photo shoot can run $500 but it is an essential investment for any company that wants to be taken seriously by affluent people. If you want my opinion on your website pictures then send me an email with your URL (or post something on APViewpoint) and I’ll give you my unbiased advice.
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a top financial writer with a focus on marketing and branding for investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor and worked at Lehman Brothers. Sara graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature and has an MBA from NYU Stern in Quantitative Finance.