Using Real Customer Photos for Business Growth

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” – Anonymous

Most pictures and images are creations of an artist or the outcome of an artistic or commercial pursuit and hold a special place in the world of communications. A business enterprise can communicate with its customers through various means and these include photos, images, and pictures. Many forms of business communication use stock photos and stock images; these can be used in brochures, flyers, print and video advertisements, billboards, banner ads, among others. However, some enterprises may consider using real customer photos in their advertising and publicity campaigns. The end-products of such initiatives may represent landmarks in the field of creative communications. We must appreciate the fact that the thought process that incubates such an outcome stems from the intent to create an outstanding communication premised on real world customers.

A customer photograph placed in an advertising campaign essentially elevates the customer to the level of a brand ambassador. The said customer may be a workaday citizen that was impressed by a certain product or service. The customer may have offered fantastic feedback to the business, and this may have spurred the business decision to use the customer’s image in future campaigns. Introducing the customer through a brief message to real world audiences may be said to demonstrate business confidence; the customer’s words that highlight the attributes of a product or service comprise the real message in the communication. We must note that the decision to feature a real customer’s image in the advertisement (or publicity campaign) should ideally be taken after seeking the assent of the said customer.

The primary motive behind the said campaign can be attributed both to commercial requirements and the use of creative license. The advertisement agency or the ad maker may take the decision to feature a real customer because his or her words have the potential to fashion a sharp commercial message. The sub-text in the said communication is trust; we should bear in mind that customers tend to trust other customers and such a communication may be crafted to achieve just that effect. Further, the bottom line of any business communication lies in spurring business growth; therefore, any endorsement by a fellow customer (or a high-profile celebrity, for that matter) seeks to boost the commercial fortunes of a business enterprise.

The use of a real customer photo can also be viewed an extension of a product endorsement that spreads by word of mouth. This brand of publicity has been acknowledged to be one of the most effective forms of business communication – because, word of mouth publicity essentially boils down to customers speaking to prospective customers. This kind of publicity effectively operates behind the scenes; therefore, using real customer photos can be viewed as an attempt to elevate the conversation into the public domain. We should also make a note of the fact that in this age of the mobile Internet, a real customer endorsement may replicate itself across social media platforms. This bears the potential for the said advertisement to generate returns far beyond what has been anticipated. In effect, the customer’s photo bears the stamp of authenticity and may work wonders for the product or service being advertised!

In addition, we must consider the fact that the visage of a visually attractive (or photogenic) customer has the potential to attract massive media attention. The business that uses the said image can gain a manifold return on its investment because the real customer does not charge a humongous fee that is common to most celebrity endorsements. Therefore, the business value of the said advertisement lies beyond comprehension in terms of the generated returns. Further, a successful media campaign that hinges on real customer photos can trigger a ripple effect in the advertising and media publicity industry. However, we must admit that such outcomes lie in the realm of unintended consequences.

The use of real customer images can also be viewed as an attempt to connect to specific demographics among the audience. We have to bear in mind that not every product can be sold by unleashing flashy celebrity endorsements. Consider this: a manufacturer of adult diapers may choose to feature images of a real customer in their print campaign. We have to note that this particular market is not huge in most geographies but the manufacturer needs advertisements and publicity to introduce and sustain the product in the market. The marketing budget may be limited keeping in mind the specific demographics being targeted. In such a situation, the use of a real customer’s photo and product endorsement may offer the best way forward. The targeted audience for the said product may not be swayed by marketing gimmickry and therefore, the use of a real customer photo and endorsement may be the perfect vehicle to transmit the intended message. This illustration of the power of real customer images is an apt depiction of a carefully thought through marketing campaign.

Early adopters of a product or service can be chosen to feature in advertisements that depict real customer photos. For instance, a successful brand of detergent can choose to look back in time and feature early adopters of the product in devising future marketing campaigns. The manufacturers of the said product can decide to take a step back from the current market and feature vintage customers that have stayed with said detergent. The use of photos of such real customers can send a ringing endorsement message in a market that is crowded with various brands of detergents. We could say that such an advertisement, when crafted competently, can stand out among similar other communications. The said advertisement (featuring real customer photos) can send a layered message to audiences; these messages include the creation of an impression that the detergent manufacturer values its customers, that its product quality has remained consistent over time, and that the product continues to offer a genuine value proposition to all customers. This nuanced communication has the power to win new customers, thereby expanding the business base of the said enterprise. The creative aspect of the said advertisement is also significant, because it indicates out of the box thinking on the part of the agency that crafted the message.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have outlined the various uses and outcomes that stem from an advertising strategy that hinges on using real customer photos. We must bear in mind that the crux of a business communication should be lucid and sans ambiguity. The use of a real customer photo conveys a sense of majesty that is devoid of commercial gimmicks. In effect, the business and its customer(s) have merged to fashion an outstanding communication that has vast potential to win over new customers, pique the market’s curiosity, and send a steadfast message. These advertisements must be conceived and thought through from every possible angle if they are to create the desired effect. The creation of such messages may spark a trend in the advertisement and communications industry, a trend that may eschew celebrity glitz and chooses to communicate with customers on a different plane. Interesting offshoots of such creativity may spring forth and may win creative design awards, while expanding the customer base and spurring business growth.


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