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Beyond Quantification: Creative Photography as a Marketing Tool
Clients commonly come to MATCO with an idea already in mind of how a certain testing procedure should be done. They come in trying to prove something, to meet some standard or specification. Quite commonly the results of testing will be presented as tables or graphs of changing characteristics of a set of samples: weight loss, change of visibility, penetration of corrosion reactions, failure of coatings, etc., etc.- hundreds of different parameters.
And while the quantitative data may be vital to assure their clients that their products do the job they’re supposed to do, almost as commonly it would be even more useful to have striking graphical evidence of the quality of their products. What they really want to do is MARKET their products. What would really be helpful are GREAT ADVERTISING PHOTOGRAPHS.
So, here’s another question to consider as you prepare to have MATCO do some testing for you: Who is the final decision-maker you have to convince with these data? Who is your customer? And what will it take to help him/her make up their mind in your favor? We suggest that the end-client, the one who is going to buy the product, may be more easily influenced by visual than by numerical evidence. To tweak the old clichÉ just a bit: a good photograph can be worth a thousand numbers.
Here’s an example of just how this might evolve:
A client comes to MATCO with an idea that’s been burning in their mind for months, maybe years. Their product is in a fairly mature market and they’d like to differentiate it from their competitors. The product is a type of flooring and they’ve reasoned that if they treat the flooring surface in a particular way, it will become more durable and that will be something they can sell on. They’ll be able to say, “Buy our product, your floor will last longer!” They’ve seen a technical publication in a fairly respectable journal that showed how you could test this type of material and quantify its improved performance. They’ve come to MATCO to have us duplicate the testing process and get numbers for their material.
We can do that and generate the numbers for them. But it occurs to us that we could do a whole lot more for them. How many products have you seen this week that say, “50% stronger than the competition!” “Last three times longer!” and so forth and so forth? How many of those claims have caught your attention? More importantly, how many have you believed? Very few, if you’re at all like we are.
But if you could see a picture, a visual side-by-side comparison, one that shows a dramatic difference between the old and the new, the competition and your improved product… that would be a different story, wouldn’t it?
Here’s a real-life example of how this can happen: a company developed an excellent new corrosion inhibitor for use in water treatment. So-called “new” corrosion inhibitors are a dime a dozen, but this one really worked. We built a Plexiglas three part flow- through cell into which we could put metal coupons and immerse the coupons in various concentrations of the client’s and competitors’ treatments. We photographed the corrosion process every few hours for several weeks, then strung the images together to make a time-lapse movie, producing a graphic demonstration of the performance of the new product. You could actually SEE the different corrosion rates as the corrosion products advanced across the side by side coupons. The new product was obviously greatly superior. Our client showed the movie over and over again at trade shows to great acclaim.
The same thing can be done with the flooring treatment. Since one of the selling points will be improved resistance to spilled liquids, go ahead and spill some beer and some cola on treated and untreated flooring, let it sit for a week, wipe it off and see what it has done to the surface. If it works well, photographs of the results should be quite telling. There are all sorts of opportunities to make this interesting, photographing as the beer can hits the floor, for example. Another of the selling points is improved scratch resistance, so photograph a classic Taber abrasion test being run right across the boundary between adjacent treated and untreated samples. You will be able to generate a time-lapse movie of the development of a sort of “cliff” at the edge of the treated material, where the abrader drops off onto the untreated material as it wears away more rapidly. This will show very clearly the effectiveness of the treatment.
MATCO will custom-design visually impressive tests specifically for your needs. We can get your test numbers, but we can go way beyond that if you would like us to do so! MATCO is THE source for creative testing. We know the science and the engineering, and we have creative technical photography backgrounds as well. And by the way, we’re not limited to photography with light. We can do similar tricks in the scanning electron and transmission electron microscopes or with other imaging instrumentation. Come and discuss your needs with us.