Advertisers are great at visual storytelling. Think of movie stars driving luxury cars, sailboat racers wearing expensive (and hopefully waterproof) watches and country music singers with a trendy beverage in hand. If the advertiser did their job, we start reaching for our credit cards and, these days, order online.
But what if we don’t have the sexiest products to sell? Is there a better way to tell our story to potential buyers so they understand the value we offer? How do we make our products more human? This is especially important as online visuals are the way people see us today — trade shows and company visits are going to be slow to return.
Technology companies too often focus on promoting the technical specifications of their products, for example, how many gigahertz something operates at. While this works for technology savvy buyers who already know what they want, business managers and purchasing agents often have the final say. They need to have an understanding of a product or service on a human level.
Visual storytelling can help companies describe a complex product or service in a universally understood form. Here are five visual storytelling examples that help humanize complex technology products.
1. Industrial Lasers
Consider an industrial laser. It’s essentially a long, rectangular metal box with a small hole in one end and a connector on the other. So how do you differentiate your box from the competition? For some buyers, it’s about output wattage and wavelength, for others it involves less tangible items such as quality and reliability.
We decided to photograph the laser in a high-tech, clean room environment going through pre-quality checks. It shows the human touch of having a real person work on what might become your laser, and the care that went into it. The goal was to evoke a feeling of trust and reliability. This image was ultimately used as the cover photo for a laser industry trade journal.
2. High-Quality Gaskets
Unless you are a gasket manufacturer or heavy gasket user, it may be hard to get excited about a gasket. For the technical buyer, key attributes include material composition and thickness. For the business buyer (assuming it meets the key technical functionality), it’s about quality and a reliable supply chain. The woman in the image is shown making quality measurements and delivers the human side of the product and process.
3.Electronics Manufacturer – Small Custom Components
An electronic manufacturer produces miniature, custom-made electronic coils that are used in their core products. It’s the precision winding of these coils that give this company better product performance versus their competition. Since these miniature coils are internal to larger assemblies, they are usually not visible to the end customer.
Rather than showing a blow up of a coil next to a dime or quarter, the image of the hand and microscope portrays both the small size, as well as the hand crafting of the product. This image was used on the company’s website and contributed articles.
4. Aircraft Wiring Harnesses
Aircraft wiring manufacturers typically perform to military standards and work hard to gain and keep long-term customers. In this image, two engineers are working intently on a large wiring harness. These are seasoned workers who are experts at what they do and help deliver the best mission-critical products to their customers. It’s images like these, in addition to photos of wiring harness components and harness installation in aircraft, that tell the complete story.
5. Precision Aerospace Component Manufacturer
Aerospace component manufacturers, like cable harness manufacturers, must meet aerospace manufacturing process and inspection standards. So how do you portray that you are different from your competitor? This engineer is focused on adjusting and maintaining the complex equipment used to manufacture precision molded titanium. This image tells the human side of the story. Used in conjunction with facility and detailed product photographs, the manufacturer can tell their complete story.
Knowing What Story to Tell
Knowing what story to tell takes marketing work. It’s critical to understand what’s important to your customer, what differentiates you from your competition and your key buyer personas. In industrial and manufacturing applications, telling a story around engineering, quality, teamwork and processes are usually good places to start. If on-time delivery is critical to your customer, use some images that highlight your shipping people and processes.
Having people in your storytelling photos helps deliver your value story/proposition in a more human way. Making a more emotional connection with your customers will often lead to improved sales.
Visual storytelling elements have the advantage of being re-purposed in multiple forms. These images can be used for websites, social media, corporate presentations and professional articles.
High Return on Investment
The images highlighted here were taken on factory floors using the actual engineers and technicians who do the work every day. This makes the stories more believable and cost effective to produce.
You can always hire a move star or country music singer if your budget allows.
About the Author
Dan DeVries is a commercial photographer with a strong background in marketing and engineering who helps companies and individuals tell their stories through high-quality images. His work can be seen at www.dandevriesphotography.com
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