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Lose The "Old White Guy" Stock Photos

By Guest Blogger,  Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter 

Manholdingouthand I'm an advisor again this year for the TVC Equity Capital Symposium - where entrepreneurs make a 10-minute presentation to potential investors from all over the country, in the hopes the investors will visit their booth afterward and  ultimately fund the venture.  Each presenter is assigned a team of advisors who then help fine tune the business plan and presentation. 

The other day I saw one of "my" entrepreneur's presentation for the first time.  Lots of good stuff (actually too much, but that's typical of the first pass).  As we got down to the nitty-gritty nit-picky stuff, my final note was "Lose the old white guy photos."  Which seems like a nit (particularly since he'll be presenting to a crowd of mostly "old white guys.") But is it?

Menshakinghands It's boring.  We've all seen it eleventy billion times.  And, when you're one of 16 presentations in a dark room, you need to reduce the boredom potential wherever possible. Everyone is talking about "strategic alliances, "partnerships" etc. etc.  Do we really need to look at another handshake? We get it, already.

It adds nothing to the presentation. Rule of thumb - if it adds nothing (and that includes that really cool product photo you love so much) - take it out. 

Not Everybody is Old, White or A Guy.  Granted, the majority of the symposium audience is male...but a growing percentage aren't...and we come in a rainbow of colors, as well.   This does not mean, however, we need the generic "happy people" shot either. 

HappypeopleDo I know these people?  Who are they?  Why are they in the presentation?  Okay - whoopee! - you got some young people, including a couple of women, into the presentation, but why?  

Is this your product team? Your customers? What? What? Why? See above about adding nothing to the presentation.

Kate Moss What if the audience/target is - ta-da! - women?   (Hey, I was gonna get there eventually...) Customizing your presentation doesn't mean slapping in photos of Kate Moss, airbrushed to death. I don't look like that.  I don't want to look like that.  I know it's a completely artificial image (and that in real life, given her habits, she must look like 10 miles of bad road.)

Dove Ad

This is why marketers (and customers) went all ga-ga over Dove's ads. They actually show real women (granted, with some really flattering photography) in their ads.  A little cellulite (which we all have somewhere - even anorexic super models), a few wrinkles, some random hairs where they shouldn't be. 

And, the Dove women look HAPPY - unlike the stick figures in the high-fashion shots...but, of course, I'd look grumpy too if I subsisted on cigarettes, Red Bull, and one lettuce leaf a day. 

So - to tie it all together...we come back to:

Whatever you do - in presentations, marketing materials or web sites, it should be interesting.

It should be interesting to your target audience (which ain't necessarily you, your graphics designer or your [un]creative agency.) 

It should add something...or don't do it.  We're already overwhelmed with words and images...don't try to cram more in there for no good reason.  Less is almost always more (this goes for text too), if you've got a compelling message.

  All the images in the world won't make up for (or cover up) a bad or sad product.


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Such a great article. So true. So true.

Dr Wright

What can I say? This is what I am always thinking!!


Dr. Wright
The Wright Place TV Show


I was just thinking the same thing about photos of people on websites - especially when you know that they came from stock photography you've seen other places. If you include a picture it should be meaningful to the content, not just to show 'something'.

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