500 Words Per Second – What will you say?

500 Words Per Second – What will you say?

1,000 influential WORDS  …In 2 seconds!

In a day and age where attention deficits and shallow communication abound (texting, Twitter, Facebook, political sound bytes, or ADHD) a carefully crafted photo can deliver a compelling message.  No one will argue today that an effective message on your website needs to be short and to the point.  If you haven’t connected with your visitors in the first 2-3 seconds, you will hear a sucking noise created by the air as they leave to their their next destination (your competitor).  How sad, and you might have just paid $5 to get each of them there.

Faster than a speeding bullet, or speed reading, images tell a story at a glance.  Images can also bait you visitor and buy you more time to tell the rest of your story that can lead to a desired action.

Your photo is NOT just informational, “hey, this is me”,  you are literally communicating thousands of words in a few seconds.  Make it count.

Don’t just “Smile”, Pose with a Purpose

Attorney wearing classic gown in his office

An attorney wearing a classic gown, in his office.

It is not about a pretty face, or making sure you capture everything in the shot.  It’s about the visitors needs and answering their questions.  It’s about the connection.   First anticipate what they need and what they are looking for, then think about what your image might say and how to pose and frame that response.

In this photo,  what do the objects imply?  Learning, experience, organization, dedication? What does his pose, expression, clothing, or lighting in the room say?  What question is he answering for his clients? Who is he trying to connect with, and would this connect with people in your area, or completely miss the mark (maybe a robe offends, and has a negative connotation you need to avoid).   The point is, yes you could just smile and take a great photo, but with a little more effort it could be an exceptional photo increasing conversion rates significantly.

What questions will others ask about you?

  • Competence:  Can this person in the photo successfully get me the best solution?
    • What is their education and experience?
    • Have others you helped, been happy with you?
  • Character: Can I trust him/her to guide me to the best place and not serve themselves?
    • Trust:  Can I put my faith and trust into this persons hands?
    • Honest Advice:  Do I need to file bankruptcy? What are all my options?
  • Dignity and Respect
    • Will I be talked down?
    • Will they make me feel guilty?
  • Affordability
    • Can I afford bankruptcy? Your costs, other costs, etc.
    • Do I qualify?
    • What property will I lose or keep?
  • Convenience/ assurance:  where are you located, and how does this work?

What other Questions do you anticipate they might have?  More importantly how will you answer them in a photo?

Example of how I would use the questions above:

Need/ Benefit/ ResultImage Strategy
Convenience/ assuranceHave a photo of your door outside your office showing that you are real, and on the website it has your address.
TrustMaybe instead of a full suit, if you live in a farming community, you would want to dress more casual, especially if suits made some uncomfortable. In the New Jersey, it might be opposite.
CompetenceWhat pose would you do to show competence and character? It might take a bunch of shots to capture the real you, but don’t worry about wasting film with digital cameras. Take the shots till you get what you are looking for.

Why You Need Great Images

  • Once a person comes to your website, you only have a few seconds to make a good impression.  We spend hundreds and thousands on PPC clicks to get them there, but how much is spent on those images that sell us once they arrive at the site?
  • The ROI just makes sense.  Invest in great images of YOU.
  • We have seen a significant jump in conversion rates (how many visits turn into leads) after simply replacing a photo.
  • In web design images are called “eye candy”, and for a good reason..
  • It can remove doubts or hesitations visitors have about giving you their information.
  • Bad quality photos take away from the websites effectiveness.

Summary Goal:  Take the time and money to get good images for your website.

How Images Help Conversion Rates

A conversion happens when a visitor to your website makes some type of action like calling the attorney or filling out a request form.

How do good images invite action?

  • Photos talk faster than text.  Since you only have a few seconds once the visitor arrives, you photos can instantly say “YES… this is a law firm (not a bankruptcy info center, counseling firm.)”,  or “Yes, I am an attorney who cares and can help now”
  • Establish credibility, trust, confidence, something tangible.
  • Images improve the user’s overall experience.
  • Removes doubts that this is NOT a scam website, but is what we advertised it was, a Law firm offering help and free counseling in bankruptcy.

When Photos Hurt

When do photos actually hurt your campaign?

  • When it looks like a photo stock image you can purchase as a place holder.
  • When the quality implies you might bee too cheap, even if that wasn’t your intention.
  • When it gives the wrong message.  Ask yourself, what do I want to say, then get objective feedback from others to see if that is the message you are telling in the image.

You might have a really good tagline, or compelling story in your profile, but if your photos aren’t compelling, they’ll never know. Remember, the average time spent on a website is in seconds (~15 seconds).  Let a well placed, well thought out photo impress your message and keep them there.

Purpose of Photos:

  • Initiate an emotional connection
    • Slider image examples:  Family, security, freedom, law office.
    • Local area photos that say, “this is your home”
  • Give the website life and invite interaction. (Videos are even more effective)
  • Answer questions, and remove doubts visitors might have.  
    • “Did I come to an info site, or a law firm?”
    • “Is this a scam website, or legitimate site?”
  • Establish your location.  Photos of your office, and or you in them can quickly establish your presents as a trusted establishment, faster than an address.  Be sure the photos are of YOUR office and NOT images off the web.  If someone comes into your office and doesn’t recognize it from your website, you might lose trust and credibility.
  • Initiate a connection between the visitor and the attorney.  

How to get Reliable Feedback from Others

Don’t start by asking your office staff what they think,  unless you know them well, and they are open, the answer will not be what you are looking for.  Find someone objective.

Example:  “Hey Charlie, would you mind looking at this website.” … “If you were looking for bankruptcy help, what would be you initial response? Don’t hold back now.”  

Example:  “Hey Chris, I’m trying to create an image of confidence and also show my friendly nature.  Which of these photos works best?  What do you think would be a better image?”

Other useful questions

  • What is your gut feeling?
  • Do you get the impression that this website is a law firm?
  • If you didn’t know me, would you trust me from my photo, or be confident I could represent you in court to win your case?
  • What is missing on this page.  If there were a picture of me or my firm, what would you want to see that would make you comfortable calling us up for a free consultation?

How much do I need to invest?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but it does take time.  

Where to get inexpensive photos:

  • Wal-Mart (for example), or stop by a photography center in a mall.
  • A friend or relative with a good camera to come to your office and take lots of pictures.  The more the better so you have more options to pick from.
  • Smartphone – Can you use a smartphone?  Yes, but because of lighting and technology challenges, get some tips first. Google searchportrait photos smartphone” or give this project to ambitious digital media student or relative w/ a desire to learn more.


  • Remember… you won’t waste your time and money.  Good photos you take can be used for other marketing and personal use, so go and invest.
  • Because these photos are lower resolution than printing, you don’t need a special camera.  Most will do.  It is better to have the right lighting and hold still for good quality photos.

Common Mistakes to avoid when taking your own photos

  • Thinking a photo doesn’t help marketing.
  • Not sending them in once you take them.
  • Don’t crop the photo.  Let us do that.
  • A bright window (light source) in the background.
  • Dim lit room w/ a cheap camera (makes grainy photos)
  • Shaking (blurry images)
  • smudge on camera lens – fingerprint, food, or something else on it.

Jump Start – Striking a Pose

  • Google search others photos on the web and copy something that impresses you.
  • Pretend you are taking a photo of someone else and you are helping them with their business.  How would you coach them to pose?
  • Use a self timer on a camera and tripod, then you can relax and practice.
Use the following table to stimulate creative ideas of poses you might want to try:
Traits to PortrayHow would you show this in a photo?
AgressiveConfident, stern look, slight smile…

Unique example of a branding using zombies. Would not work for everyone. Find your own branding.
Helpful, patient, happySimple friendly smile
Competent (what to wear)For men: Neat suit and tie, or depending on your branding, something that says, I’m good at what I do.

For women: Similar advice. (google search ideas)
CharacterRelaxed welcoming smile or
Relaxed determined look
Local businessEstablishing a presents w/ objects in the background.
Photo in my actual office, maybe my certificates, or library books in the back.
photo of the building on the outside.
Photo of the legal team (more than one person)
Using their logo...
Some examplesattorney in front of Desk; On phone at desk; By a bookshelf in office; Certificates on a wall; On a desk, certs in back


What we need for your Website

Images Needed for our Bankruptcy Website

What kinds of photos can you send Sebo Marketing that we would like to use on the website?


  • Self Portrait of you.  (Required)


  • Portrait background – what do I have in the background:
    • Ideas: plain or gradient color, framed certifications, your office, books…
    • Avoid: lighted windows or open doors (unless you use a flash), or sun in the background. Photos that have washed out colors, or too dark are hard to touch up.
  • Image of you working, or with someone, a team, etc. (highly recommended)
  • Building photo (outside, where appropriate)
  • In Office photo, something that shows you have a base of operations. (recommended)
  • Lots of images.  If you are not sure, send them anyway.  Sometimes we use just parts of the photo.  We never know what will work till we see them.
  • Other compelling  items include, BBB logos, certifications, endorsements, customer testimonials, awards, authored writings, blogs, etc.

Resolution/ Quality:  Because website images are not high resolution, you don’t have to have a professional photo taken, but they should be clear.  Photos between 2-5 megabyte in size are best.

In summary,  Yes it does make a difference, so take the time to think about what you want to say, they say it with confidence in great to fantastic compelling images. Keep the good photos for the scrap book.  


UPDATE 9/1/2015:

I just ran across this on Google My Business.  When going into manage photos, here is what Google is suggesting people now add to their portfolio so that others can get to know them better:

Google Image Categories

Another reason you need more than just your portrait photo.  People want to know who you are, and will be more likely to contact you IF you make them feel comfortable and remove doubts they might have about you. 

AUGUST 21, 2015 by Feleni Siufanua
Feleni is a user experience designer, and account manager at Sebo Marketing

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