How do you use your website to create desire for your products? You show a) the quality of your products and b) how they are different from similar items being sold elsewhere. Many small businesses think that means a home page with few product photos and a welcome paragraph talking about what makes their store unique. But take a look at the websites of big retailers selling in competitive markets. There’s not a single welcome paragraph in site. How do they create desire? Do they lead with their products or their story? The answer is that they lead with both.
Product photography is one of the most important, and most overlooked, tools for creating desire for products in an online store. It’s so easy today to pull out your smartphone and get pretty decent photos of your products that many businesses stop there, at “pretty decent”. But pretty decent photos don’t sell products.
The type of photo you want on your product page is evenly lit, in focus and sharp as a tack, on a neutral background, and shows colors accurately. It should be possible to zoom in on the photos as much as is necessary to see every detail of the item, and you need enough photos to show the item from every side.
There are a nearly infinite amount of articles and videos out there to teach you how to take photos like this.
But those aren’t the photos that create desire either.
The photos that create desire and sell products, the ones that you want on your home page, are the ones that show your products in the wild, in their natural habitat.
What is your products’ natural habitat? Where do they belong? Your products belong in the lives of your ideal customers. They belong in their homes, on their bodies, on their bookshelves, in their gardens. That’s where your products come to life.
These “in the wild” photos inspire your visitors to imagine themselves in the world your photos create. They see in your photos an idealized view of the home, the style, the life that they want to have, and they see your product as a central element of that world.
Ikea does a fantastic job of creating desire for their products with carefully crafted scenes, showing how comfortably they fit into homes and lifestyles that Ikea knows will resonate with their customers. The Ikea catalog does have pages of photos of stand-alone products, but those are in the back, like a glossary. The photos that create the desire for those products are right up front showing scenes that you wish you could walk right into.
Some companies even create literal stories around their products, either through testimonials sent by happy customers or, like my fellow Denverites Topo Designs, through magazine-style articles that feature an adventure in which the company’s products play a central role.
You might be thinking that a travelogue featuring your own products might be the perfect excuse for a tax-deductible vacation—and you’d be right, as long as you plan your article, and your trip, carefully so that you’ll come home with the photos and stories that will resonate with your customers.
But even if you aren’t in a position to take your wares around the world, you can create photos that tell a story and send a compelling message to your ideal customers (as long as you know who those people are—and if you don’t, I can help you find them).
It can be as simple as hiring a photographer for a couple of hours to take pictures of a willing volunteer wearing your products in a nearby location that you love. Or calling up that friend who has the insanely and perfectly curated house and inviting yourself over to take some pictures of your products in her living room.
Pictures like these are more powerful than any thousand-word welcome statement that you put at the top of your home page. The right photos will pull your site’s visitors right into your world and invite them to explore your store, dream of how the things that you make will fit into their lives, and buy one to have as their very own.