Image Marketing in the Property Management World
Story by: Dee Allomong
The world is obsessed with photos. We are no longer satisfied with capturing the big events of our lives on film, we are in love with capturing small memories and moods. Then, we quickly share these moments with friends and followers across the Web. Why?
It’s simple. Images are memorable and create connections. People are, by nature, attracted to images. They capture our eyes and our hearts. When we view a snapshot of someone else’s life, we feel like we know them better.
Using the right images to market your property management company can have the same effect. As you know, people do business with companies they “know, like, and trust.” The images you use can generate trust as well as make your business more memorable.
Image marketing does require some investment. It takes time to find and purchase good images. The better images are more expensive. And, in some cases, you may need to invest in equipment to take good “real life” photos. Before you make these investments, you need to understand the marketing strategy behind successful image marketing.
Identify the Purpose
You should be using images in all of your marketing materials – on your website/blog, in social media, and in printed materials. Every image you use should serve a specific purpose. Random images are useless, and in some cases may distract or interfere with your marketing message. As you design your marketing content, identify the purpose of each image before you select or create it.
Here are some examples of image objectives:
- Make a personal / emotional connection – In this case you might take custom images of your personnel, satisfied clients, events you support, etc.
- Define your business – This is especially important on a website. Visitors want to quickly identify what kind of business you’re in. Using images that have homes, rent signs, keys, etc. help them do that. Make sure the home images you use accurately represent the type of homes you manage or want to manage. There can be a disconnect when someone views high end properties in your marketing materials, but see average middle-class homes on your Available Listings page.
- Capture interest & increase engagement– In some cases, you want images to make people curious and encourage them to read more. Images, paired with a great headline / title, will increase click-throughs on blog and social media posts. In this case it is good to choose images that are unique / interesting, like ones that use familiar objects in unfamiliar ways or serve as an analogy to the point you are making in your blog article.
- Call to action – These images are meant to lead a reader / website visitor to take a specific action: visit another web page, make a phone call, request a market analysis, take a survey, make a purchase, and more. Most of the time, these images are symbols / artwork like buttons, arrows, etc. Make sure the images you use stand out on a web page, generate trust, and coordinate with your overall branding.
- Demonstrate – Most property management websites have a page that lists their service offerings. Think about adding images that show your team in action. The images will help move the decision process from head (reading a list) to heart. They can show you solving problems, managing relationships, serving clients, cleaning up “messes”, and more. They can help a prospective owner conclude that they don’t want to manage their own property, or help a prospective tenant decide that you will be reliable in maintaining the home they rent.
Select and Purchase Images
Once you identify your objective, you can select images. Images are governed by copyright laws; you cannot just download an image from a Google search and use it in your marketing. There are many online resources (see resources list below) for reasonably priced images. PURCHASE the images you use and understand the seller’s licensing requirements. You might partner with a local photographer to use their photos and give them credit / link to their website. Make sure images comply with other possible restrictions. For example, Facebook has restrictions on the amount of text permitted on images used in paid ads.
Here are some guidelines for choosing images:
- Interesting – All of the images you use should be interesting in some way, otherwise they are just boring and likely to be ignored. Be careful when selecting images you think are humorous – test the image with other people to make sure they “get” it too, otherwise the image may just be confusing.
- Focus Point – The images you choose should have a strong focus point that draws the eye to a particular area of the photo. In some cases, you may be able to achieve better focus by cropping a photo or using a close-up.
- Relevant – Don’t use an off-the-wall image just because it is interesting. The images must, in some way, tie into your industry or blog topic.
- Relatable – Choose images that “click” with your clientele and target clients. They should be able to look at an image and get the feeling that you serve people just like them…and do it well.
- Emotion – Some images are meant to generate an emotion. Images that have people’s eyes in them are more emotional – you can see fear, happiness, satisfaction, anxiety, etc. People looking straight into the camera generate trust.
- Size – Make sure the images you purchase are larger than the space you want to use them in. It is better to scale down an image because increasing the size can degrade image quality.
- Color – Wherever possible purchase and display images in color. People associate higher quality with color photos. Look for photos that coordinate well with your branding colors so they will “fit” well in the overall visual marketing scheme.
- Clip Art – Clip art used to be popular, but now it can make a marketing piece or website feel very outdated. Use it sparingly and select only the best. Instead, consider using high quality illustrations that can be purchased from various image providers.
- Ease of Editing – There are good image editing software available that will help you change colors, remove sections of an image, or combine images to get a desired effect. However, it is much easier to choose images that require the least amount of editing. If you are modifying images, make sure you maintain quality. A poorly edited image is distracting and won’t have the desired effect.
Implement the Images
I already mentioned the importance of good editing. If you don’t have the time or skill to edit images or create artwork, you should hire a professional. There are plenty of freelancers who have a strong knowledge and good eye – they are worth the price.
Image placement is also important. When adding images to web or print materials, make sure they are “part of the story.” They need to make sense in the context of the rest of the page. If the connection between the text and image is not abundantly clear, add a caption to the image that is interesting and ties the two pieces together.
Coordinate visual branding across all marketing. Tie web, social, and print marketing together by using similar imagery, colors, and emotional messaging on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your company website, emails headers, print materials, etc.
Leverage the SEO benefits of images. When you add them to your website, customize titles, add captions, and create alt tags to optimize them for search engines.
Aristotle once said, “there can be no words without pictures.” We use words to describe the sensory experiences we have with the world – much of the time, the visual ones. It takes a lot less work for our brain to take in an image than to read blocks of text on a page. Images are not just adornment that make a website, blog article, printed brochure, or direct mail piece look good; they are an integral part of a strategic marketing plan.
- Image Libraries
- Social Sharing
- Online Image Editing Software
Story by: Dee Allomong