A photo of a recently deceased friend was posted on a social network. As people commented several words kept reoccurring; beautiful, confident, intelligent. That photo was powerful; it evoked memories and emotions. Though we view things in varying ways, all of us have emotional responses to the things around us. A picture can convey intense emotion, or even a complete thought or feeling.
Danie J Boorstin, the renowned social historian, once said that “an image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service.”
As marketers, we reckon with the power of imagery. A seminar I attended talked about the use of images in menus. The example was given of a Midwestern rib establishment that used a photo of ribs, taken with a cheap camera, on its menu. The picture was awful, but sales of ribs rose. Was this a coincidence? No, because we eat with our eyes.
Consequently, when deciding what to eat the eyes play an imperative role. Our appetite is more about cravings than need. It’s based primarily on a craving to satisfy our senses versus a hunger for the necessary. Your imagery should provoke desire, the better your imagery the more intense the desire becomes and the more likely you are to achieve the desired sales. When the Midwest restaurateur replaced his amateurish rib snapshot with a professional image, sales of ribs skyrocketed.
We perceive that because people are visual they are naturally drawn to image-based platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Text is becoming obsolete as 60 percent of images uploaded are food related. I attest to this when customers call and request the menu item pictured. Further proof is my dine-in sales growth of two percent since the installation of a digital menu board.
Pizzerias must be very careful to see that food is appealingly presented in all marketing materials, including online venues. Many operators can’t afford to hire a world-class photographer, but there are other resources. Opt for a marketing design company that has a respectable library of pizza specific images. When searching for the perfect picture for menus, postcards or Web sites, think of single words that convey your message accurately. Words such as “family”, “freshness”, or “authentic”can make a real impact. You may also search online stock photography companies for images. While not a quick and easy task, it’s one that pays off.
Take note to use consistent images, conveying a standard with minimal variation, throughout your marketing. This builds and reinforces your brand. Ignoring it will lead to a disconnect with your brand and message. When I incorporated this concept, sales rose 14 percent and more than doubled profits. I captivated emotions and motivated people to buy.
Beware of pride — it comes before a fall. Those who feel they can just snap a photo or have an amateur photography enthusiast do it don’t attain their full marketing potential. Food photography is an art. It requires special lighting, angling and props. This type of art will build desire, persuade and inspire.
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.