The age of the internet, coupled with today’s competitive market, has significantly altered the way businesses are sought.
Increasingly in professional services, clients are looking for assistance online, meaning the way business owners conduct themselves behind the screens has become paramount to their success.
Just one rookie error or inappropriate headshot can convey an image of untrustworthiness or unprofessionalism, leading to a loss of clientele and therefore a loss of revenue.
On the contrary, those that use the internet to their advantage by way of successful social media engagement and/or digital marketing are set to reap the rewards, attracting more clients from the get-go and paving the way for follow-up business and further referrals.
The right foot
When it comes to securing a client in today’s tech-heavy world, a first impression has the potential to make or break the relationship.
The rise of the internet has made that first impression much more important, as clients are increasingly online and know from a quick Google search that they have an abundance of choices available.
As such, the persona that business owners make available to clients on their private social media networks, their business’ website, their LinkedIn page or other forms of digital marketing has become imperative.
According to Chris Sprott from Sprott Photography, just one image of you can form a representation of your entire business – for better or worse.
“People will make judgments about who you and/or your company are by the images you portray online,” he says to My Business' sister publication Lawyer's Weekly.
“If your headshot is an amateur snap shot, people may assume this is reflective of your company.
“It makes sense to put your best foot forward in all aspects of your business profile. This includes promoting yourself and your people by using professional corporate portraits.”
Chris shares some tips on how to make a great first impression through online marketing. His first recommendation is hiring a professional.
“I think having a headshot done by a professional photographer is essential in promoting yourself and your company in the best possible light. It shows that you are professional and take what you do seriously," Chris says.
“A lot of effort is put into marketing and promoting a business and developing a professional website, so having headshots that are equally as professional makes sense if you want to be consistent in your presentation.”
He also advises business owners to keep it simple.
“A white background is most effective, particularly if you are wearing darker colours. It really makes you pop out and the white background also seamlessly blends into most company websites,” Chris says.
“If you have too many things going on behind you, it can be distracting. Don’t forget most headshots on websites or social media sites are quite small, so you want people to see your face and easily identify you very quickly, so don’t have too much of your body in the shot – from the chest up works best.”
Chris also recommends taking a varied approach.
“Sometimes it’s a good idea to have a variety of shots, to show your diversity or the different looks you may have,” he says.
“For example, often people who wear glasses like to have some shots with and some without them.
“Sometimes people like to use shots that are more corporate for the company website and a little more relaxed for their LinkedIn profile.”
Looking your best
On the other side of the coin, there are many blunders legal professionals are guilty of when it comes to making a good first impression.
To avoid putting clients off, Chris says business owners should beware of the ‘#selfie’ and ‘#nofilter’ shots.
“Selfies are never good. Neither are shots of you out at a bar or on a fishing trip with your mates,” he says.
“When it comes to presenting yourself well on your company website or on LinkedIn, you need to show yourself at your professional, not personal, best. Save the selfies for Facebook.”
Avoiding overkill is another way business owners can make a good first impression with clients, according to Chris.
“Try to avoid too many patterns or clashing colours on your clothing.
“Make sure you put an effort into looking your best for the shot (hair, makeup, etc). You will appreciate the outcome.”
He also recommends saying no to the “cheese factor”.
“You want to come across as professional and approachable,” he explains.
“You don’t want to look too serious, but at the same time you don’t want to look cheesy either.
“Somewhere in between is best – a relaxed smile is good, but just don’t overdo it.”