Recently we were contacted by a new small business who wanted to get the word out about their services. A new massage therapy business in Prescott Arizona. When I took the call I let out a mental sigh. See, there are a lot of massage therapists in Prescott Arizona. A LOT!
Chatting with the new business owner I quickly found that we wouldn’t be a match for his company. No location yet, no business plan, no thoughts about local competitors….and a budget of $100 to $500 for his website.
After finishing our conversation I decided to go take a look at the massage therapy landscape in Prescott, Arizona. And a few hours of research took me down a path that had nothing to do with massage therapy in the end. Instead it got me thinking about the image of a small business, and the images used to portray that business. So big thanks to the caller for inspiring an article about image and images!
By the way, just an FYI for would be massage therapy business owners in the Prescott Area. Doing a quick Google search I found 24 listings in the area online. Some have decent web presence, others look like someone knocked something together in an hour. Bottom line? A lot of competition, and the higher end sites are very compelling compared to the low end ones. The image presented will make a large impact.
Your image matters and your images matter too
During the course of my research I spent a good deal of time looking at the high end massage therapists in the Prescott area. The reason I spent a good deal of time was the fact that I became confused too easily. The higher end sites blended together for me. It took me a few minutes to realize I was on a different site than the last one I looked at, and it took a few moments to soak in. See, the images used on one website were the same images used on others. Then I had my “ah ha” moment. The images were all “stock photography.”
The super professional massage therapist websites blended together in my mind because there was nothing that set them apart from the others. Similar messages, the same images, and the same look and feel. A big part of that was due to the same exact images being used on the front pages. Woman getting neck rubbed, woman’s back with stones on it, man getting back massaged, etc. The images from one business to the next didn’t distinguish the business at all.
While the sites were well constructed on the higher end jobs, the sites failed to communicate anything unique about the businesses and they all blended together for me. It’s safe to say, for other folks looking for that unique massage therapy experience in the Prescott area, I’m willing to bet the sites blend together for them as well. The business fails to present it’s own unique image. You’re a zebra in the biggest herd of zebras you’ve ever seen.
I have images for sale through Dreamstime. So I contribute to the stock photography realm. Many photographers do as folks aren’t willing to pay for custom sessions. That’s okay, that’s why stock photography is out there. But the unfortunate truth is stock images don’t reflect you, your brand, or your physical business. They’re generic images that fail to showcase your business. In the case of my research over the weekend, popular images get reused by people competing with each other, and the end result for the person searching for the business is mild confusion and lack of brand identification. You all look the same.
There’s also the issue of actually stealing photos for your online business needs. I want to be clear on this. Finding an image you like on another website and copying it to your own is theft. If you don’t have the photographer’s permission, or the copyright owner’s permission, you have stolen intellectual property from someone. Not only are you not portraying your business, you are showing disdain for those who have invested the time to represent their business effectively, and you could even be dilluting their search results by re-using their intellectual property. People get sued over that.
If you think nobody knows that you snatched an image, think again. There’s a great website out there for photographers and business owners called “Tin Eye.” This little site (and plugin for browsers) will show you if an image has been used on other websites. During my research I started searching the images I found, and many traced back to one stock photo website or another. Hopefully for the business owners they paid to license those images. If they didn’t….they will get a phone call or e-mail eventually, and it could be a very expensive message.
Show off your business and stand out with actual images of your work
Creating a brand and an online image for your business is important. Standing out can make all the difference in a potential customer’s mind. Does you business look welcoming? Does your RV park look clean and tidy? Do your massage tables look to be in good condition? The list can go on forever. One thing is certain, looking like everyone else takes away from your message. Stock photos aren’t really selling your business. And stolen photos leave you open to future legal actions that can become quite expensive.
So, in the end? RLC Design can help you craft your online image. And we can also help to create a body of unique images for your business that are owned by you. Our goal is simple. We’re looking to help you grow your business, and reach a larger client base. If you’re ready to make your business stand out online, and to present your actual image to the world, we’re ready to help you.