Should you be using stock photos?
Individuality takes time. So do sales, so which do you spend your time on? The easy answer is, of course, that sales are more important to your business, so why not just pay for some stock images to populate your website, or grab some images for free off the internet?
Stop Right There!
First and foremost, taking images off the internet without the express permission of whoever owns those photos is often illegal, and at the very least poor form. Using those photos without permission doesn't make your business look reputable, does it? So cross that one off the list.*
What about stock images? It's easy to grab some stock images from sites like Shutterstock; they're relatively cheap and they can be downloaded in seconds. In a lot of ways, this option makes a lot of sense: your site is populated with images and you didn't have to do a lot of work. So what's the problem?
The problem is a big one.
As a modern omni-channel dealer (meaning: you sell in store and online), you've spent a lot of time building a reputation and a brand. You've taken every opportunity to get your customers to identify with you as a brand, but by using stock images, you're conveying the message that you're just like everyone else. It's a small detail, but one your customers are likely to notice, even if it's on a subliminal level. Taking the time to customize your site with photos no other site has goes a long way toward establishing your brand, connecting with your customers, and developing relationships with those customers that will keep them coming back to your site time and time again.
Okay, so how do you take your own photos without spending a ton of time on it?
Step 1) Read THIS BLOG POST about how to take great photos for your site
Step 2) Take photos that are unique to your shop. Photos of your store, your products, and your employees are best.
Step 3) Populate your website with links to articles, videos, and photos that get you excited. ALWAYS be sure to give photo credits if you embed anything that's not yours.
Step 4) Have fun with it! The photos don't have to be works of art; they just have to be unique to you and your shop. Show your clients the character of your shop, and the character of your employees (every shop has a few characters, if you know what I mean!).
Lastly, understand that it's okay to use some stock images, but use them sparingly. You want to appear genuine and unique to your customers, but reality often dictates that you do things in a timely manner, so be prudent about how many stock photos you use, as well as how you use them.
*Giving proper photo credit may be as simple as adding the photographer's name/link to their website beneath the photo, but a safer assumption is to contact that photographer and purchase the rights to the photo.