The average small to mid-sized business knows very little about marketing content. Proof of that lies in the type of marketing content they push out to their audience. Often lacking imagination, marketing content fails to court customers. Rather than inspire or stir the imagination, content falls flat by bluntly telling you what a product is. Customers are well-versed in the function of your product. Think beyond function. There’s no room for courting customers if you’re just telling them what you are; rather, tell them why you are.

There is no place more apparent in this shortcoming than in a product shoot. Having witnessed this in person, I know that an otherwise well-intentioned marketing team feels that a decent product shoot involves some basic equipment, some props, and a carved out corner of the office for the set-up. Unfortunately, this is the business equivalent of rubbing two wet sticks together in hopes of sparking a fire. It’s a nice effort but it’s otherwise futile in encouraging sales, which is really the ultimate goal of any photo shoot. While these businesses spend a good chunk of change on a decent camera, and maybe some lighting, they tragically lack the vision to produce content that converts to cash.

You can however congratulate yourself on recognizing a need for product photos and videos. Don’t applaud yourself for too long, because you’re also wasting your time by expecting marketers to do the job of art directors and professional creatives in this area. Your social media manager, for example, most likely won’t have the first idea about how to organize a shoot. Your marketing graphic design team, while they know how to deal with a raw photo file, don’t know what it takes to create a flawless image that’s worth working with. There is a tremendous value in attracting well-rounded talent that knows various aspect of marketing needs, or knows how to meet these needs, but for the most part the average marketer really has no clue. There are certain conditions that need to be met if you’re looking to execute a product photo shoot.

The lifestyle-inspired photo shoot should always emulate a lifestyle. Imagine your ideal consumer. Now imagine what their lifestyle is like. Once you have a picture in mind, create a photo shoot that mirrors this envisioned lifestyle. Let’s say for example that you’re selling an electric fireplace or electric heaters. In that scenario, you really shouldn’t waste your time setting up a photo opp in the corner office with cheap office carpeting, drywall that lacks art or personality, and a lone Ikea chair shoddily placed across from a heater. This visual doesn’t inspire imagination and doesn’t create a feeling of want. Instead, recreate that scene in a beautifully decorated home on a cloudy winter day so your consumers can feel a sense of chill while also feeling the warmth of a home. Your video should capture the weather, span the home, and then focus on the individual wrapped up in a sweater with a hot cup of cocoa. Perhaps they’re reading a book, or watching a movie, or spending time with a loved one – or better yet, all of these things. By creating an environment that mirrors a lifestyle, you’re creating a connection with your audience, one that stimulates them to convert into customers.

The same principles can be applied to any product. Take it out of the office and into ‘real-life’ by imagining how your consumers would use or wear the products. If you have a restaurant, your photo and video series should be about people enjoying the food and venue. It should be about a celebration of life that includes Sunday brunches, a spot for studying, and even a dining area turned reception hall for an intimate wedding. If you have a clothing line, it should be about the lifestyle of your target market. Get them off models and on real people doing real things, in real life. It’s really that simple, but it first requires thinking about your customers and then thinking about your product and how it fits into their lives.