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Professionals’ guide to looking great in pictures

In a world where everyone has a headshot, it is important to know how to get a great photo without making yourself look silly. This is an exercise in honesty – we’re here to help you.

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[ba-youtubeflex videoid=”9PSOSNqHgwA”]

How not to look like a tool

You’ve seen your competitors’ headshots and laughed, but do you know if they’re laughing back at you? The video above outlines some great tips for taking a good shot and it doesn’t involve a Sears studio…

We thought we would outline some possibly controversial tips in how to market yourself in your picture. We’re living in a digital era where our faces are used as more than bus bench covers, our headshots appear as profile pictures and pop up next to every single update we write on social networks, in our emailers, in our newsletters, our websites and more. Our estimation in reading thousands of Realtor blogs and tweets and Facebook accounts is that only about half of all agents online have acceptable pictures used online. Let’s fix that.

Photo DOs and DON’Ts

We introduce you to these quick tips because we’ve been to enough conferences and met enough people that look nothing like their picture that we have literally felt lied to and betrayed by a gorgeous headshot but BLAH person in person, which leads us to the first tip:

  1. If you’re not hot, who cares? You’re here to sell your brand, not blockbuster movies, so be accurate in your pictures, don’t Photoshop. People will be HULK angry if you have a picture online that looks like Angelina Jolie but you show up looking like post-bender Courtney Love.
  2. Don’t be lame. No props, no fake books in the background, no side poses with the hand under the chin, no puppies, no kittens (okay, maybe kittens), no sneakers with your 1980s shoulder pad business suit, and no phones. Do you hear me? No cell phones or office phones in your picture- we get it, you know how to dial and put the receiver thingy to your ear hole, but so does a second grader – you look ridiculous. Stop it.
  3. Please use a photographer. If you’re not going to, at least don’t use a crappy phone with low resolution or a webcam in the dark that makes you look like you should be interviewed by Chris Hansen in To Catch a Predator.
  4. Avoid situational images. No fourth of July star spangled banners or Christmas turtlenecks because you’ll have to change them frequently and they’re probably cheesy anyhow. See #2.
  5. No Glamor Shots. In 2011, if you’re using a Glamor Shot people are going to question if you have a second job in the “alternative” movie industry. You know what I mean.
  6. Be your age. If you use an outdated picture, people are going to talk about it, I promise. If you’re 50 and have grey hair, you are forbidden from using a picture of when you were 35 and a brunette. Be real.
  7. No props like sold signs. We get it, you are a professional, and probably a Realtor – it doesn’t need to beat anyone over the head. No pictures of you with your car, especially if it’s small and not gender appropriate. No thumbs up or “how you dooin? gun fingers” or people will think you’re on the cast of Jersey Shore. I admit, these all belong under #2, but we needed to spell it out in detail.

These are just a few pet peeves of ours and what people on Twitter said today when asked for their pet peeves.

Consumers are looking to trust you, and that’s a marketable trait, so let your photo be modern, simple like in the video, and realistic. Tell us in comments what pet peeves you have of professional headshots because if 50% of people are not doing this well, they need to know, even if it hurts. Sorry, puppy lovers.

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163 Comments

163 Comments

  1. Genevieve

    April 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    For some reason, I read the " no glamor shots line twice." Paranoia will destroy ya; thanks for the reminder, LAR. I'll forward you my new headshot before I post that bad boy.

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:43 am

      Paranoia is funny! Thanks for not using any old nicknames, that's awesome. 🙂

  2. Jason Sandquist

    April 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I always see Groupon offering Glamour Shot deals… #justsayin

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:45 am

      Seriously? They're still around? Well we know who is keeping the in business then…. lol

  3. Heather O

    April 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Okay, I'm only the marketing girl … but I notice these things working for my REALTOR® hubby. So my favorites agent poses are listed here: 1. Super-crossed arms, elevated w/cocked eyebrows and all while posed, back-to-back with their teammate agent. 2. Agents with elbow on an oversized ampersand (always are on the vertical bus cards) 3. Lens-flared, glamazon shots 4. 72 DPI photos – c'mon now … hire a pro or a college kid.

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:46 am

      Back to back is the WORST, I totally forgot about that one. Nothing screams "I'm 40 and haven't moved out of my parent's house" more than a back to back with your broker/mom…

      • Lori Luza

        April 25, 2011 at 8:23 am

        Heather, I'm sad to say it, but some of those sound like they did use a pro. The problem is that they either hired the studio at the mall, where props are part of the shtick. Or, maybe they hired a kids/family photographer instead of someone with experience in doing headshots.

        Good headshots come from a professional photographer with experience in that area… not from an hourly employee at the mall.

        • Heather O

          April 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

          Lani, I just about snorted coffee all over my screen. You nailed it. And for the record I'm still giggling at the "How Not to Look Like a Tool" comment. ~ I am still a fan of someone leaning on the "ampersand" or the "&" sign on their business card … I completely blanked on the "on my cell phone and that means I'm busy" photo. ~ Lori, hey you tried right? 🙂 Can't hate on the fact you were trying to get the photo. It's true, but I think with Facebook, for my observation, photographers are at an all-time high and for someone not to get a new photo is more "I don't want to make the time" or "I'm afraid to reach out and get it done." Heck Yelp and Google reviews are a great way to find portfolios of local photogs. ~ This post rocks my marketing socks. :-)))

    • Mike McGee

      April 25, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Ah, you guys beat me to the back-to-back photos! There seems to be an epidemic of those in our market. Another one I hate is the jacket-over-the-shoulder look. Whose idea was that? If your photographer suggests an unnatural pose like that, fire him! I would love to post a link to my favorite example, but I guess that would be mean. 😉

  4. Paula Henry

    April 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    My favorite is the with the agent on the phone, then it was the cell phone. Really? Who thought that made us look cool. I'm certain someone is laughing at mine, but I do NOT have a phone. I could use a picture from a professional photographer. I do change my picture about twice a year, because my hair grows that fast. I have one with short hair and one with longer hair. Maybe, when I get my hair cut again, I'll try a professional shot. Of course, as i age, I think I'll just use my picture from when I first started in the biz 🙂

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 12:47 am

      That's a good point Paula- for those of us who change our hair frequently, the profile shot HAS to be updated. I used to go from brunette to blonde and back a lot and constantly had to update!

  5. Ann Cummings

    April 25, 2011 at 7:02 am

    I've seen a few who've posed with their cars….still trying to figure out who said that one was cool. Or how about one using the computer that looks really really fake?

  6. "Tracey, the Safety Lady"

    April 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I hate to be a spoil sport, but as a real estate agent safety trainer, I have to caution you about where, how often and the types of pictures you use. Having been an agent and with a sister who is an agent, I know that pictures are important for branding. I also know they are important to criminals for profiling. I cannot stop you from using pictures everywhere, but can offer some great points.

    Glamour Shot-type pictures are a no-no. Pictures on your yard signs are a no-no. Criminals see what they want, (I hear agents say that they are too old or ugly and no one wants them, it doesn't matter to a criminal), they may be looking for someone old; (supposed easier target), younger (more technology tools to steal), males and females both have cash, credit cards, jewelry, etc. Everyone is a target. You make it easier to find you. If they see the perfect victim pictured on the yard sign, all it takes is one phone call to get that would-be victim (you), to meet them at that empty house, (and you all meet strangers at empty houses!).

    Use professional pictures if you absolutely must! Use them with care and distribute only to your known COIs.

  7. sfvrealestate

    April 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Lani, I'm so happy to know that you're a cat person!

    • Lani Rosales

      April 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Oh Judy, it's almost an OBNOXIOUS affinity. Hi, I'm Lani and I'm a cat person. "Hi, Lani," the support group says. 😉

  8. Cliff Stevenson

    May 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    The phone pose kills me. Surprisingly, this shot is everywhere (at least in my market). You're so busy that you couldn't put the phone down for the shot? Having said that, I'm sure many could make cracks about my marketing photo.

  9. Valerie

    December 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Our team doesn't use photos. Our team is a green team and our logo is a green door which is on our cards, signs etc. Never felt the need for a photo and our customer's don't seem to mind. One less thing to worry about.

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible; if your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Who’s teaching Gen Z to adapt to working with other generations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Gen Z patch 1.1: How to work with other generations. The newest tech savy generation might need an update to work well with others

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generation z

We know the current work force is made up of a multitude of generations which is the first time so many have been working at the same time in history and this is should be absolutely fascinating to dig in to the research and how this drastically affects businesses.

To think how we each have our work ethic and style influenced by so many factors on how and when (and where) we were raised, plus what generation our parents were in and what was passed down to them from the generation before. Millennials received a lot of attention for being entitled and lazy. Gen X receive constant jokes that they are the forgotten generation. And let’s not forget the cringe-worthy “OK Boomer” meme theme recently.

Now we have moved on to Gen Z (b. ~ 1997-2012) in the work force and many are currently attending college. There were other considerations for their name: Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Plurals, and Zoomers. If you google about them, there are many books to read about this generation that has never NOT known technology.

They are used to being seconds away to finding an answer on Google, sending their current status to friends via a fun picture or video and learning anything they want to learn via their laptop (for example on YouTube, LinkedIn Learning, Google online courses, Udemy, Teachable, among others). They are no strangers to businesses evolving to continue to be consumer-minded and have an app for that when it comes to convenience like: ordering your coffee before you get there, order a ride from no matter where you are, order your groceries online and pick them up outside the grocery store or (gasp!) even have them delivered to you via some other third-party app. And let’s not forget, there better be Wi-Fi on the plane.

There are a lot of wonderful things about every generation and maybe some things we all contribute to regarding stereotypes. No matter age, experience or style, it’s key to learn about the people you are working with (peers, supervisors, leadership teams) or if you are an entrepreneur and business owner: your customers and any differences needed for them (should you be on Tik Tok? Is Instagram still where it’s at? How do you add online appointments to your site? Do you need an app for that?).

In this world of instant gratification, we have all adapted to the conveniences of technology so why would this new generation be any different. There’s been research shared with how they shop and even how they learn. Is anyone teaching them about those that came before them when they enter the work force or look to gain professional experience working with entrepreneurs, startups or small business owners?

I’d like to recommend taking a look at Lindsey Pollak’s research, read or listen (thank you, Audible) to her latest book, The Remix, How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace and even her new podcast, The Work Remix, for any limited on time or attention span. It is really powerful how she is able to easily translate lots of research in to actionable items (let’s bring back apprenticeships! Skip the ping pong table for more time in nature!). She is kind and provides refreshing ideas on how to adapt our work styles to others as well as what is important in the workforce. She is also really against generational shaming. ALL OF IT. And that’s beautiful.

So, before we roll our eyes and throw a generational comment at someone, can we get to know each other better and be flexible and adaptable in how we find and work toward our common goals? For one, I’m excited working with iGen and am always asking myself (as a loud and proud Gen Xer) how I can adapt or meet their learning styles. All in fun, I do wish they would read my emails but I might have to let that go and get more used to text.

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Business Marketing

Malomo helps online retailers keep up with retail giants

(BUSINESS MARKETING) With giant companies like amazon able to offer free shipping, and super fast arrival times, how can a smaller company keep up?

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Malomo home page

When Amazon is out here offering two-day shipping on all kinds of products from televisions to toothbrushes, ordering something from a smaller online retailer can have an almost humbling effect.

When faced with a basic UPS tracking number and shipping email, you realize how accustomed you’ve gotten to receiving play-by-play shipping information and a little photograph of your package when it arrives at your front step.

People have come to expect a lot from their online shopping experience. Huge online retailers, like Amazon, are crafting these expectations as another strategy to edge out competition. It’s all by design. So, how are smaller companies supposed to keep up with this demand?

Online retailers need tools that allow them to compete with the big boys and Malomo is here to help. Malomo is a shipment tracking platform designed for ecommerce marketers who want to level up their customer experience. Their mission is to help brands build authentic relationships with customers. Their platform allows online retailers to keep their customers up-to-date with shipping information using a beautiful branded platform.

Malomo could be a game changer for online retailers looking to build a more faithful customer base. Malomo’s platform can do so much more than send tracking information. The platform adds another layer to the customer journey by letting you create a digital space where your business can continue to build that customer brand connection.

Online retailers can use the platform to inform customers if there are any issues with their order such as a late shipment or a problem with an item. The platform can also be used to advertise other products, educate customers about the brand, or send targeted coupons.

In addition to offering a beautiful platform, Malomo provides online retailers with valuable analytics on customer behavior such as click-through rates on tracking information. Malomo integrates with popular ecommerce platforms such as Shopify making it a smooth addition to your overall strategy.

By integrating these ecommerce tools online retailers can harness the power of data to improve their customer experience, drive future sales, and keep up with customer demands for a world-class shipping experience.

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