Images sell – make your brand stand out!

Image is everything when it comes to pitching and selling events. But despite the digital age, investment in web sites, easy access photo tools, it can still be a slug for event planners to bring their proposals to life in showcasing their sparkling ideas.

Event planners are generally experts at trawling through media in their quest for the perfect destination, hotel or restaurant – and that elusive touch of magic which makes your event stick in the mind of the attendee for years to come. But to create this, we have to be inspired by the imagery available on websites and marketing collateral. These images need to bring our ideas to life to produce that tender-winning client proposition. And they need to do that before we’ve even won the pitch and undertaken the subsequent site inspection.

A picture is worth a thousand words. As an event planner with a marketing bias, I’m always on the lookout for high quality images and videos for the simplest of proposals or competitive tenders. I’m also a keen photographer, with 30 years of travelling under my belt. As a happy snapper and proud owner of a comprehensive image bank of my own. I’ve always endeavoured to capture timeless travel and event images.

As part of my consultancy on micebook, a one stop shop for event planners, we’ve carried out extensive research and feedback on supplier choices and event planners’ needs. From this research, we’ve created an image-led experience which will help brands shine in a highly competitive market place. It will bring together essential event components and sharper image-sharing tools together. For event planners, it will put an end to the tiresome task of digging out and chasing up high quality images that will really stand out in your proposal.

It will also spell the end for that sinking feeling that any event planner gets when you’re steered towards a “comprehensive library of high res images” only to find the delegates wearing bell bottoms and a dated video showcasing empty rooms and typical destination shots. Hardly the image of a venue or destination claiming to be on the cutting edge of MICE experiences!

A seasoned eventprof is very brand aware. I suspect many are seduced by brands which have made a real investment in creating high quality image and video banks and media support tools. These MICE brands illustrate and convey their brand values through high production cost images. But you don’t have to be a big budget brand to succeed in an image-led market. All you need is common sense and a willingness to support event planners in winning more business.

An event planner preparing a multi-destination tender will have their work cut out trawling through Google images to seek out the best of a bad crop of lacklustre images to help bring their proposition to life. While bigger agencies will invest in highly creative, expensive pitches, most are left to the mercy of the web to source content, crossing their fingers that good suppliers will jump to their aid and enhance their collaborative pitch with supporting media. Some suppliers are terrific and media savvy, sharing links to online libraries and providing all the tools to support. For some, there’s definitely room for improvement.

On many occasions I’ve seen a destination decision or supplier choice swayed and won on the impact of a single high quality image or stunning video. Time poor planners will occasionally shortlist suppliers on the look of the first proposal.

Today, we’re marketing to millennial planners. In an age of Instagram and Twitter, these planners need to see it, feel it and want it from that first exchange. And this means creating proposals from primarily image-based content.

So here are a my top tips on how to sell your destination, venue or event component using high quality imagery:

Invest in photography

Whether you run events, manage a venue or are a transport provider, a sharp, creative professional image of a stunning event will knock the socks off your competitors. These images are a real bonus for event agencies and can truly excite the corporate decision maker. Spending a few quid on an experienced photographer could deliver real return on investment – it will make your proposals and social media dazzle. It could also influence an event planner before they’ve even started writing a single word!

Sell the experience

The events business is all about selling experiences. Nothing is more powerful than illustrating a ‘real’ event with professional images or good quality personal ones. An empty ballroom image may give a good idea of facilities but that same ballroom, dressed to impress with creative production (and people if possible!), speaks volumes about possibilities. Consider copyright issues but don’t let them be a barrier or excuse for missing opportunities. If branding is not prevalent, most clients are relaxed about sharing rights if the images are high quality, professional and don’t infringe on any brand issues.

Ditch the watermarks

Plastering your brand across every photo is a sure fire way to be passed over in the image and potential supplier stakes. If you’re a DMC supporting an intermediary events agency, brand presence and kudos shouldn’t really be high on your agenda at the pitch stage, if you’re looking to grow long term business relationships. Simple copyright terms on your email, or file sharing site will remind users of professional ethics in the use of your images. Don’t overcomplicate it.

Easy access is a must

Constraining your destination proposition tightly in a PDF may make you more secure about your content copyright but it will surely aggravate an event planner trying to make a tender-busting proposal and presentation. Create an easy to access document and if you have an online library, make sure it is quick and easy to access and not ten hoops to jump through before arriving at a poor collection of dusty old images!

Your new mantra: creative, content, quality

Think Conde Nast, Instagram-style images and use simple tools to enhance your photography to create lifestyle and storyboard effects for your product. High res means high res. We’re a ‘detail’ business, so capture small touches around your venue or DMC service. For example, you could use include images of a buffet set up, floral arrangements or welcome drinks.

Use video for dynamic content

If you’re a hotel or a DMC without your own video, make it your business to know if there are generic destination videos available from other sources. With a greater focus on social media and high impact presentation, event agencies and corporate planners are looking for dynamic content to aid decision making as well as launching and promoting the destination.

Don’t be precious about brand videos at the early stages – at this point most planners are seeking generic content. Your proactive support could pay dividends if you invest time in supporting planners to win the business in the initial stages.