Sep 28, 2010

Take a Walk in Your Customer's Shoes for a Few Minutes

Match your Photo "Staging" to The Most Likely Potential Buyers

A few years ago, I got a crash course in staging houses. I was helping a friend of mine, a local realtor, with homes that weren't selling (and this was during the real-estate boom time). Rather than just hanging fresh towels and baking cookies to make the home smell good, I anticipated who the most likely buyer could be. Then all the house staging mapped to that type of buyer.
For example, I had one house deep in the mountains above Silicon Valley. It was a rustic dark wood sided home, a perfect example of the 1970's style and was surrounded by huge redwood trees. It felt rather gloomy and damp. But it also had some modern touches. I knew that the high asking price for the house would probably most appeal to a two income high tech family that wanted to escape city life when they got home each night but also stay connected to technology.

I thought about the kinds of cars they may drive, where they shopped, what kind of style they may have and much more. Then I brought in staging props or pieces to play to that-upscale 'modern cabin in the woods' feel. I used modern retro furniture, a laptop casually left running with hip family photos cycling through on the kitchen breakfast table, vintage ceramic mixing bowls, a huge blue Kitchenaid mixer, bright white linens, etc. I made it feel like a Williams Sonoma catalog shoot. It sold within 1 week for over the asking price. The real buyers did not exactly match the profile I had in my mind, but they told me that they actually wanted that type of lifestyle, they aspired to what they saw inside the house, and that is why they bought the house.

Ok. Now on to Etsy. The same applies to selling vintage. Who is going to buy your item? How can you attract them to your item, when there are dozens more like it on the web?

Have a look at these vintage scales. Do you see the appeal to someone that likes country decor for example? We could also see more here. You could see the sculptural angle. You could see a professional restauranteur who wants to express the confidence of experience and ability it conveys from decades of use.

You may decide to market that same item to the fresh young homeowner who likes vintage. A good bet, but it does cut down on the potential customers a bit: anyone who doesn't like vintage green, (even though the scale has little, it's really emphasized here by the surrounding items), anyone not into country/farmhouse decorating, etc. 

Perhaps you take your photos outside for the best light. This photo gives it the feel of having just been found out in the back forty, dusted off and photographed. (note the planting pots stacked on the side) Also a good bet, but it also cuts down on your potential audience: those who cannot stand dirt, those who want it for their bright kitchen (unless they have vision) and those not into the country look.

This photograph uses a rustic table, but this is upscale rustic. (Like the Sundance Catalog that Robert Redford publishes) The scale is centered and balanced with 3 vibrant oranges. This appeals to your New York/Chicago/San Francisco urban loft dweller, anyone who enjoys looking at Pottery Barn catalogs, and both genders.

The one that fits the bill of appealing to the widest audience is the simplest. While I love props and use them myself, I find that clear, bright white photos convey the feeling of cleanliness, flexibility, and allow the viewer to place the item freely within their imagination. Your male shopping for his modern apartment is going to love the clear, sculptural lines of this. I love it-I'd love my kitchen to feel this clean all the time!

Walk in your customers shoes. Look at your item with fresh eyes. Can this item be sculpture? Can it stand on its own? Who would want this? Who hasn't seen it before and would be thrilled with it? Market to them. Photograph for them. That loft dweller in Chicago: where do they work? Where do they eat? What are their hobbies? Step into their lives and photograph for them.


ImSoVintage said...

Great article. As a vintage seller I am constantly working on my photos and dreaming of the day when I can afford a really great camera. 8-)

nora - treasurehuntvintage said...

AWESOME perspective!! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge.