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Nuts and Bolts: The Right Image

June 29, 2011

The Right Image for the Right Greeting Card

You’re an accomplished photographer. You’ve taken the time to not only learn the skills you need to take great photographs, you’ve studied graphics editing techniques. You’ve taken note of how to create great greeting card images and verses. You know that photograph of a tiger you took at the zoo is a modern classic. It ought to sell like hotcakes, but instead it just sits in your store getting clicks, but no sales.

Why? Has the whole world gone blind?

Nope, you’ve just used the right image for the wrong card.

Let me explain. Certain images are timeless, such as beautiful landscapes, flowers, butterflies, waterfalls, rainbows…you know exactly what I’m talking about. As blank notecards, they’ll sell (although in this digital age, at GCU and other PODs you’ll have a LOT of competition). However, if you’re making cards for a purpose, you have to match the photograph to the occasion. Get it right and you’ll create a greeting card that attracts shoppers and prompts them to buy. Get it wrong, and you’ve wasted all that time and effort.

Sometimes it’s a question of appropriateness. Is a picture of your cat yawning appropriate for a sympathy card? Is a picture of a spider’s web with raindrops on it appropriate for a child’s birthday party invitation? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you took a beautiful picture, it will sell if you slap it on anything and everything. Sure, you’ll quickly fill up your store with cards, but you won’t be filling up your pockets with cash.

Before you decide on the purpose of the card you want to create, sit down and have a really good think about whether the image is appropriate for the category you want to put it in. Is it the right fit? Does it send the right message? Does it match the sentiment you want to express? What does the photograph say to you? Think like a shopper, not an artist.

Let’s take the spider photograph I mentioned. If you try to sell that as a child’s party invitation, you’ll be wasting your time. What use can you make of it? Here’s where the right verse comes into play.

Using the right verse can turn a dud into a winner. You could make the spider card into an encouragement card, for example, by putting “I know you feel you’re trapped in a web right now…” and on the inside, “…but you know I’m there for you when you need me.”

Do you see how that works? Let’s take another example:  the tiger I first mentioned. Putting “happy birthday” on it is nice, but that doesn’t really do much, does it? How about, “Happy 2nd Birthday, Tiger!” – with front text like that, you could use it for every age up to about 14 or so + a “Happy Birthday, Husband – You’re a Real Tiger!” or even an additional series of cards for male relatives. That’s a lot of potential sales opportunities!

Creating marketable greeting cards (by that I mean, cards that are commercially appealing, that shoppers will actually put down their hard earned money to buy) is about much more than just taking a photo and sticking it on a 5×7 background. Even if you know all the tricks, you still have to give great weight to how best you can use that photo to your advantage.

Don’t think that any decent photograph can be used for any purpose under the sun. It can’t. If you try, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Match the photograph to the occasion and use front text and verse to tie the two together – use the right image for the right card, and you’ll have the perfect package to entice shoppers to buy, buy, buy!

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Doreen Erhardt’s most recent Dash of Inspiration – Cup of Creativity on Monday. The image is absolutely perfect for a retirement card, and the front text she uses ties things up beautifully. Brava! A big winner in my book, and a fine example of right image – right card.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 8:18 am

    Wonderful Tips, Thank You Corrie!

  2. June 29, 2011 9:26 am

    Couldn’t agree more. As a photographer myself, I have learnt that lesson the hard way. I look at my best sellers and I can always work out why they are – the right image for the right occasion with the right words and the right font.



  3. Cathy Gangwer permalink
    June 29, 2011 2:12 pm

    Thank You for the great info!

  4. June 29, 2011 3:15 pm

    Great article Corrie and thanks for giving my card your thumbs up 🙂 I will also add that the same logic is true when creating cards for ages and/or relationship specific. It makes sales to utilize the image for those who will best appreciate it. It is very rare that one photograph is suitable for children, teens, and adults. Just more food for thought!
    Doreen Erhardt

    • June 29, 2011 3:26 pm

      I thought it was a great image, Doreen, capturing the mood of the sentiment perfectly. And I agree, what suits one age group will not suit all. Peeps, be a little pickier when choosing your photos and how you’re going to use them in greeting cards, and you’ll do a lot better in sales.

  5. June 29, 2011 4:29 pm

    A great tip from you as usual. I personally do not use photography and only draw and paint my images. This forces me to think more about what I am trying to say. Sometimes the pictures come first in my head and sometimes the words do, but it’s a big step to get it all down on paper, then in photoshop to make it all work. I have a watercolor waiting for approval that is of a man fishing and I chose to use all around retirement theme with several categories, including relationship-specific which I rarely do. But guess what, I’m learning to use these tools and I appreciate all the tips I can get. I hope this will result in more sales for me.

    Doreen’s photo is fabulous as it instantly conveys the mood of a dream retirement. The business of designing greeting cards for marketability seems a calculated science and the wonder of it is that there is room for everybody–from photographers to typographers to illustrators. That is why GCU is so cool, because there is a market for everyone!

  6. June 29, 2011 8:25 pm

    right as usual…as much as i enjoy painting pretty pictures, lots more to learn about what makes a card SELL…THANKS….

  7. June 29, 2011 9:42 pm

    Excellent advice – many thanks Corrie – Natalie 🙂

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