Browse Month

December 2020

Headshots in the Times of Covid

Photography has always been important in marketing, but since the lockdown, and with all the mess that came after that, small and medium businesses have found renewed interest in having great images to reach their audiences. Claudia Hoag, from Hoag Studio in Los Angeles, has witnessed this rush to business headshots, increasing as the lockdown continues to enforce online interactions. “The value of professional headshots has always been there,” says Hoag, “but suddenly the small biz entrepreneurs have realized the advantage they get from this instant connection.” Working with tighter budgets and with greater flexibility and speed of changes, these businesses are quick to realize where their best bets are, and the personal connection brought by a human face is very clear by now. The marketing guru Seth Godin has warned us that “people don’t buy goods and services; they buy relationships, stories, and magic.” By offering a person’s face as an introduction, a business is much closer to a personal relationship with the viewer. There is a lot that is communicated through displaying the actual face of the person providing the products and services.

Hoag Studio Business Portrait

That is not to say that most business owners are eager to step in front of a camera. “Being photographed, especially in these conditions – by a professional headshot photographer, to represent your products or services – can be very uncomfortable,” says Hoag, who has a headshot photography studio in Los Angeles, California. “It’s my belief that the photographer needs to interact with that person in front of the camera, and if needed actually coach them into delivering a relaxed, authentic expression of themselves, if that makes sense,” she explains. Acacia Reed, Chief Operating Officer at L.A. Care Health Plan, was particularly hesitant about having pictures taken, before her headshot session with Hoag. “I had an amazing time, Claudia was so patient with me – I was marble stiff,” says Reed, “and she really helped me to actually smile!”

It is also good to keep in mind the goals established for those portraits, and see the image creation as a team work. Each business has their specific characteristics and ideas that they need to come across in their photos, and each person brings something that is their own, their personality and their vision. And added to it, there’s the photographer’s style and interpretation, so both work together. Jonathan Pedrick from Pacific Palisades points that out, when he mentions how he went from being tentative to actually getting engaged in the headshot session. “I was nervous but that all went away as we started working,” Pedrick describes, adding that “pretty soon it felt like a mutual collaboration and it was a really fun time in the process.”

Hoag Studio Portrait

Another point that Hoag emphasizes is the necessary health safety precautions. Currently, photoshoots are done without extended team members such as hair and makeup personal, but with distancing, proper disinfection, and having the photographer wearing a mask at all times, it is still possible to obtain those great pictures that help business owners network and connect with their potential clients and investors.

Social Media Exposes The Corporate Psychopath


Truth or dare.

We dare you (CMO, brand manager, PR-communications specialist, CRM manager, or whoever you are) to have your company authentically enter into the innovative realm of online social media, the world of Facebook and other networking sites (or as it is known in shorthand, Web 2.0).

Not ready yet? Afraid you won’t have control of what happens? C’mon, we double dare you.

Still, not that daring? O.K. If you won’t take the dare, you have to tell the truth. Is your company customer-focused?

“Yes, of course” (you answer without thinking). Seriously now, be honest. Does your institution really care about its customers or only about itself? “Our customers,” you reply.

We believe you. But what we believe doesn’t matter. And the fact is, survey after survey says your customers don’t believe you. Ever.

The reason is obvious. Your organization is seen as a corporation, and corporations in the eyes of most people are evil. Large companies?with a 13% approval rating?rank just above Congress and law firms when people are asked to list the most admired institutions in America, according to Harris Interactive.

In fact, if people were to anthropomorphize your organization, your firm would be seen as highly antisocial at best and psychopathic at worst.

The impassioned polemic, otherwise known as the movie The Corporation, asked people to describe big business.

Among their answers:

? “Self-interested”

? “Inherently amoral”

? “Callous and deceitful”

? “It breaches social and legal standards to get its way.”

? “It does not suffer from guilt.”

Sure, the movie has an anticorporate slant. But Harris Interactive chose its people at random?companies would not have scored at the bottom of the pack if those surveyed thought of workplaces in the same light as Mother Teresa.

So this is what you are up against. People think companies are inherently bad. It’s no wonder they don’t believe you when you say you are customer-centric, no matter how many times you profess you are.

But you can change that. The 21st century, with wikis, blogs, and the millions of niche online communities, etc., allows us to create a more level playing field when it comes to customer relationships. It’s now possible for us to share with consumers what we as companies are really all about and what we believe, face-to-face, so to speak.

That’s a big responsibility. Is your company up to it?

The bad news is you can’t hide from these innovations. They are now part of the daily fabric of most of your customers’ lives. Even more bad news: If you’re opting out, by default your absence will brand you as antisocial and insincere when it comes to being customer-centric.

The good news is that the innovative technology you need to use is the easy part. The better news is if your intentions are authentic, your marketing budget is certain to experience exponential efficiency with infinite potential. And the best news, thanks to breakthrough software such as , is that it’s all measurable and trackable with real-time flexibility and control. (Full disclosure: we think Shoutlet is so wonderful we have invested in the company?nothing like putting your money where your mouth is.)

What are the fundamentals you need to master in this new world? There are three.

? Phase 1: Architect a Proper Presence

First, you need to identify where your target is and which communities are important to them. You want to be where your customers, and potential customers, hang out. Having identified those places, you need to understand the conventions and etiquette of those environments. Every site is different, but if you keep the following in mind, you won’t go too far astray. Do figure out ways to foster, nurture, and support the community you are interacting with. Don’t even think about a hard sell.

? Phase 2: Gain Credibility Based on Your Target’s World View

The content you enter in the social media arenas must be carefully selected and composed with that environment in mind. Your message and content need to be all about them and what you can do to make their lives better. This means: “Help Them, Don’t Sell Them.” Be unconditionally generous. Visit Nike, one example of a company that does this well, to see what it’s done for runners.

If we are adequately entertaining and educating customers, they will seize the opportunity to fully engage. They will share this content and perhaps even build on it?whether you invite them to or not?because that’s what social beings do.

When engagement reaches this level of co-creation, we move into the third phase:

? Phase 3: Co-Creating Dialogue Where Your Company Reaps the Benefit of Exchange

Once we have defined and built the right presence, along with crafting the appropriate, engaging content, we can begin fostering true exchange of ideas and emotions.

We can build promotions, campaigns, and dialogue based on user-generated content, and empower our customers to not just be a part of our story, but to erase the line between “us” and “them.”

It’s important for your company to build a presence in social media. These new communities are irrevocably changing the landscape for marketers and how we communicate. Increasingly we are being charged with delivering ideas that engage and influence the people in these living, breathing, and highly responsive human communities. For advertisers, this presents both a unique challenge and opportunity: We need to integrate our message and presence effectively, profitably, and appropriately into social media communities.

The presence you build within social media will be analyzed, scrutinized, and perhaps criticized. However, entering this territory?which is controlled by the digital swarms of consumers and their communities?with the right voice and then nurturing that conversation in a manner authentic to your brand, your products, and your customer will ultimately have a far greater positive impact on your level of opportunity over the existing risks. In fact, the greatest risk is being absent from that conversation in the first place while your competition gains a powerful foothold.

G. Michael Maddock is founding partner, and Raphael Louis Vit?n is president, of Maddock Douglas, a company that invents, brands, and markets products “for companies driven by innovation.” .