Want a Billion-Dollar Brand? Invest in Quality Photography. Kylie Jenner has taught us that a picture is worth more than a thousand words. It can also help you build a billion-dollar company.

By Carol Sankar

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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What can the youngest self-made soon-to-be-billionaire, Kylie Jenner, teach aspiring entrepreneurs about the importance of quality photography?


Related: This Ad Agency Head Spends Half His Time Taking Photos for Instagram. Here's Why He Doesn't Consider It a Side Hustle.

If there is one thing the Kardashian/Jenner tribe can teach us all about creating a successful luxury lifestyle brand is the noticeable impact of imagery on social media. Taking some the best photos of the simplest items and posting, while luring customers in to make impulse purchases on their merchandising, has been the key of the extension of the Kardashian/Jenner brand and influence.

Today, there are influencers on Instagram who make a living from endorsing products to the masses. Gone are the days of waiting until new products appear via pricey television ads and soundbites on the radio. The impulse to shop has shifted to influencers, and for one straightforward reason -- photography.

Smartphones have turned everyone into a celebrity of sorts, if you can catch something happening at the right time. However, when you have a product to introduce to the market, creating immediate attention and converting the attention in revenue is a matter of timing and imagery. The Kardashian/Jenner family have mastered the element of creating content around images of their own brands -- from home decor and fashion, to makeup and more.

As simple as it is, as an entrepreneur, you cannot just publish a website, make a few social media handles and wait. Today's customer wants a more intimate experience through video and photo marketing. Think about the allure of the new Instagram and YouTube celebrities, who are commanding as much, if not more, than many A-list actors of the early 2000s. A real shift in the dynamic of increasing brand awareness and sales.

Related: Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed

So, where does photography fit into the "picture"?

Well, consumers shop with their eyes on social media. They verify their decisions through the verified opinions of others. And with the decline of shopping malls, referred to as retail apocalypse by many journalists, the next best investment you can make as an entrepreneur is in clear and concise photography. I must admit that I have had a few epic fails throughout my journey of underestimating the increased brand awareness of clear photos, but Instagram and YouTube are powerful platforms that cannot thrive without clear imagery.

"When smartphones became widely available and put a highly capable camera in the hands of millions of people, suddenly everyone was a photographer. And now that videography is so popular, everyone is suddenly a videographer, too. But, there's a difference between taking a photo or video and creating a photo or video that has depth, meaning and feeling," Alex Schult, founder of PhotographyTalk, told me. When asked about how to build a visible brand by capturing great elements in a photo, which connects the consumer to a narrative about a high quality brand, he said, "Photography helps people understand what the brand is about, i.e., telling someone that your business cares about the community is one thing, showing them photos of you actually helping the community is much more powerful."

Related: 7 Tips to Start Taking Product and Lifestyle Photos for Your Small Business Today, According to a Professional Photographer

If you want to win on visual platforms and increase sales, invest in the experience of creating magazine-style editorial content that your audience would buy. The lifestyle market, filled with aspirational dreams and grandeur, is here to stay. But, in order for you to market like one of the Kardashian/Jenners, you must learn how to master the art of visual attention.

Here are five reasons why you need to reconsider how to connect great photography to your business model.

Photography builds a strong connection with customers.

Customers buy what they see, not what they hear. Great imagery creates a narrative that allows consumers to make impulse decisions without the need to debate their choice. Pairing important text with appropriate images, you can build a much stronger branding message than you can if you use just text.

Great imagery can go viral.

There's a viral element to photography. The potential of going viral makes photography a must-have for branding. Last year, I shared a quote on social media of my TED Talk with a quote from the talk itself, which was shared over 10,000 times in one day. A simple still shot can tell the story of what you offer.

Related: A Guide to the Ideal Image Sizes for Your Social Media Posts

You will improve engagement.

"Pictures are easier for the public to interact with, which is why social media posts that have a photo get so much more traction than those that don't," according to Schult. With the ever-changing algorithms that are affecting organic reach, photos that are clear and go viral will improve customer engagement, while reducing the need to buy attention.

Customers shop by sight, not by price.

Impulse purchases are a reactive approach to selling products to your customer, who may not have considered it as a necessity. Let us be honest, Kylie Jenner's lip kit is an impulse buy, as the market is saturated with makeup and other cosmetics. From your local discount store to high-end retailers, lip kits are everywhere and in every price category. However, over 100 million people follow Jenner on social media and with one carefully crafted, well-lit photo, she created a demand frenzy. Hence, price was never a factor in the decision.

Quality imagery is timeless.

Let's face it, a great picture is a great picture, especially to increase sales on social media. If you are selling a legacy product, invest in a quality photoshoot, and you can release photos over time. Think of great magazine editorial -- we have no idea when the pictures are taken, but they remain timeless.

Carol Sankar

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Founder of The Confidence Factor for Women in Leadership

Carol Sankar is the founder of The Confidence Factor for Women in Leadership, which is a global executive leadership firm focused on inclusion initiatives for high achieving women. Sankar has been featured at TEDx, The Steve Harvey Show, the Society for Human Resource Management and more.

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