Why is it so hard to communicate exactly who we are and what we stand for when switching from copy to images?
This is a question we’ve tried to answer over the years. Working with a sector that’s all about people, and how to generate the best possible outcomes for those receiving care and support, glossy misrepresentation is common. We need to represent according to real-world experiences. If not, we’re hardly relevant.
Eye height is the real deal
I guess a lot of marketers will know quite precisely whom they’re trying to reach. Fundamentally, this is the core of any customer journey. If not, then other problems are more acute, and this post is years from now. On the other hand, if you know your audience, the pressure is to build content that generates demand. Getting this right has to do with messaging. And messaging has never been more image-driven than today.
So, what’s holding us back?
Representation is the short answer.
Most people will know someone working in social care. As an example, 6% of the entire workforce in the UK is working in home care or similar jobs. However, the majority of this gigantic group of 1.6 million people rarely feel acknowledged or accurately portrayed in public campaigns or general media coverage.
This is a massive problem. The latest government-led campaigns across UK and Scandinavia have been unsuccessful. They failed to attract outside attention to join the sector. As a result, the workforce is diminishing. Perhaps not entirely because of their messaging, but it’s easy to see what’s missing from a marketer’s perspective: Reality.
In this case, what’s required to generate demand, is a campaign that makes it attractive to pursue a career in social care. On real terms. Not by painting a picture far from the truth. Telling that story top-down or placing trust in messaging that’s unreliable to what’s common knowledge, only makes the gap grow wider.
Imaging is a gigantic part of this. Social care is not hospitals. So, when you show uniformed people and the environments look clinical, the case for social care vanishes.
The eye height argument has to do with authenticity. Showing that you know. And that your lazy communications are not determined by underinvesting in proper images or stock.
The no-stock policy
Without any formal evidence, I’m sure most will agree that our bullshit detectors have been refined over the last decades of marketing mania. Hands up, to anyone who cannot identify marketing copy or ads, despite their ability to blend in nicely with our chosen platforms. I figured. We’re good at selecting what to read and what to skip. We quickly scan websites and their contents to only focus on what matters the most. Ads rarely do.
And the first thing to turn us off is a bad cover image. With a cheesy air, I’m gone. This made us specifically add a “no stock policy” to our marketing at some point. The desired quality of images simply wasn’t there.
Like the one below
A good example of this was working with an agency, that despite all our efforts of explaining our market and user group, showed up with poor images. Instead of ordinary people (like you and me), we saw clinical outfits, beautiful models, and massive smiles on every pictured face. That’s not representative and a no-go for us. The locations were white and shiny. Paying no attention to what a care home looks like. Or an older person’s own home.
For that matter. Nobody in their 80s lives in a luxury, minimalist hotel. They have pictures of their children and grandchildren, artwork from a lifetime, wainscots, or unique wallpapers. And a mantelpiece monstrosity of figurines and findings. Those are the images we look for. Where you and I are able to recognize our own families and feel represented. Where we identify with the images. That to us seems real. Even if reality is uglier than expected.
In short, we’re looking for authenticity. Not a markup version of our real lives. In a lot of stock photos, this is all you get. A doped-up you.
Besides that, the diverse framing of some catalogs felt stretched as if the United Colours of Benetton had a drink too much.
Our campaign for real images
Much along the lines of Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty, we’re looking for a visual representation that’s not condescending. That doesn’t talk down to our intellect when portraying the world, which we live.
In our line of work, there’s a lot of drool, agony, people that live with severe diseases like dementia, and carpets that are a bit tired. The houses sometimes need a bit of attention, and the pivotal dining room is also for readings, hymns, and Christmas trees and is sometimes turned into the local bowling championship alley. A very quiet atmosphere of rest and peace is totally based on and uplifted by its immense crew.
These are the people the deserve a proper representation. And if stock images want anything to do with the social care sector, it’s getting that one right.
About the author
Morten is a Co-Founder and the CMO of Sekoia. An app that’s used across Scandinavia and the UK for planning, delivering and evidencing outstanding care. As a co-chair of the Social Care Innovators Network, and a patron of Championing Social Care, Morten is engaged in digital technologies, and how they may help streamline and better his sector. To Morten, customer success is the biggest brand asset a company has.