You have seconds to get a customer's attention online, and vehicle photos are often the first impressions of your dealership. You've spent hundreds on auction fees, transportation and reconditioning your vehicles. So why would you use below-average photos to represent your vehicle and expect to get a customer's attention out of the hundreds of other options accessible to them online?
Show the customer you care about your product. Impress them with photos that depict the quality of the vehicle and dealership, and they’ll come to the showroom to see it in person. Below are four tips for taking better inventory photos to drive showroom traffic.
1. Do your research
The right camera will make all the difference, and you must ensure that you purchase the best camera for your dealership. Smartphones can take quality shots and mobile apps have made it easier to manage and upload photos, but quality can vary by brand and model of phone. Luckily, today there are HD digital cameras available that produce quality photos that can quickly and wirelessly connect directly with your inventory to automate the uploading process to your dealership’s website.
2. Get something up fast
Even if it's just a couple of shots, try to post some images of the vehicle as soon as you can. Online browsers want to visually see actual vehicles and what differentiates them from other similar vehicles they are looking at. A viewer is not going to read through all the details on every vehicle if your website is serving up search results filled with stock or "coming soon" photos. You are losing potential customers every day that vehicle sits on your lot without any photo online.
3. The right photos
Lots of shots showing options is one thing. The key to achieving a customer's trust, though, is being entirely transparent about the real condition of the vehicle through great photos. Put the most content-rich images in the first ten slides with the first image of the vehicle pointing to the right. Our natural visual direction is from left to right, and by pointing the vehicle to the right you are guiding the buyer's eye in the direction of all the great options you want them to see.
4. Shoot at the right time of day
This is by far the most common mistake people make while trying to get quality shots of any subject. The best time to shoot will be in the hour or so after sunset or before sunrise, but don't shoot into the sun. If you must shoot in the harsh light during the middle of the day, try to find a spot where the vehicle and background are all in the shade. The north side of a building is a good spot for softer lighting.
5: Golden Section (the rule of thirds)
The rule of thirds is a general guideline to help in composing visual images. The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds so that you have nine parts. This grid identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing the vehicle as you frame your image. By using this method it's possible to produce a higher-quality image that is well balanced and puts the focus on the vehicle.
Try and keep distractions to a minimum. Avoid having things in the background that will distract the eye. Things like other vehicles, signage, dumpsters, cracked asphalt and power lines can kill a picture. Remember, the photo should be all about the vehicle you’re selling, nothing else. If you want your dealerships information with the photo, considering using a custom photo overlay on the first image instead of hanging behind the car.
7. Reflections and hard shadows
New and reconditioned vehicles often have shiny surfaces. Have a look around at the car to see what is reflecting or casting shadows on its surface. If you can, avoid having your own reflection in the photo. If you can’t avoid a reflection, try putting the camera on a tripod, setting the timer, and moving out of the shot. Nothing ruins a shot like distracting reflections.
8: Get away from normal eye-level
Find unique features and then try and shoot them from different angles. Kneel down in front of the car, or try to get a shot from high up. This will allow you to capture multiple angles of the car. Experiment but be careful not to get too "artsy." Extreme angles can distort the shape of a vehicle and though it might look cool, remember that the purpose of the photo is to clearly show the vehicle’s condition and options to a potential customer in a way that makes them want to come in and see it in person.
Following these tips will go a long way toward producing attractive and enticing photos that will reflect well on your dealership and help generate more showroom traffic.
Joe Holmes is marketing manager with DealersLink.