When quality makes a difference

Have you ever heard the phrase, “potato quality?”

It’s a joke popularized by YouTube commenters about the quality of videos taken. Whereas excellent, high-resolution videos or photos typically receive questions like, “Very nice, was this taken with a Canon DSLR?” Jokesters ask the same question but replace the camera with something inanimate and, well, not very good at taking photos, such as socks, blenders, or of course, a potato.

As in, “Great photo, was this taken with a potato?”

For example, a classic potato-quality photo that we’re all familiar with:


It can be very funny, but all the humor drains out of it immediately when that photo is part of one of your marketing campaigns. We see tens of thousands of photos headed for the direct mail presses that are blurry, out of focus, off-topic, have a grainy resolution, and look like they were taken with a potato, and we can’t halt them all, but we certainly try.

It’s a fact that a great deal of your marketing success is dependent upon your visual elements. Xerox estimates that customers are 80% more likely to engage if the photo is high quality. Photos should tell a story that compliments your marketing and provides a visual metaphor that compels people to take action. Terrible photos do just the opposite – they reflect poorly upon the sender and tank your ROI!

We’ve thus written up this 3-minute guide so that you know how to achieve the greatest success with your postcard marketing!

The 5-step process to taking great photos:

  1. Camera: To take a great marketing photo, you’re going to need a camera that can’t be chopped up and served as fries. Ten years ago it was necessary to purchase an expensive, bulky DSLR camera to achieve top quality but most smartphones can produce high enough quality and resolution to do the job!
  2. Subject: Next you’ll need your subject. Of everything on this list, the subject takes the most consideration because you have so many options. Do you photograph your storefront? Do you snap a shot of employees at work? Very likely, the best thing you can do is to photograph your finished product. People will buy from you because they’re trying to solve a problem, whether that’s needing food for dinner or having a well-repaired roof. Show them exactly what they can expect, including, if possible, a happy customer! Here are some examples.


  1. Composition: Capturing your subject in the best possible light (no pun intended) also takes a little consideration.  High noon is typically the worst time because it casts harsh shadows whereas dusk is ideal because it shines with softer light. For indoors, proper lights should be numerous but indirect, so as not to cast shadows.

When lining up the shot, think about the rule of threes (see below), where you divide the screen up into thirds and place the subject at one of the four intersecting points. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it works a lot of the time. If you’re thinking of taking the photo from an angle, try to go for more extreme ones, as they’ll be more interesting.

The rule of threes: By dividing the photo into thirds each direction, we get four points on which to line up the subject.


  1. File Size: Once you have the right image, make sure that it’s the right size for uploading, and at the very least, 5.75” by 4.5” (just larger than a standard printed photo). In terms of pixels on your computer, that translates to at least 740 by 580. Larger is always better, but there’s no reason for it to exceed three times that size.
  2. Final Edit: Test what you’ve come up with on a few friends or co-workers. Does it grab them? Do they understand what you’re trying to get across without any explanation? If not, it’s not the right image! You have one chance to hook people’s attention with your marketing, and you’ll see the highest ROI with better images. If you can’t seem to come up with what you’re looking for, there’s no shame in using a stock image account.

Choosing the finalist

Follow these 5 steps and you’re well on your way to better marketing pictures! Better pictures mean more responses and more responses mean more sales! Channeling your inner photographer can have benefits on your bottom line, and practice with these makes perfect.

Want to see how your images look on a postcard?

Log into our web-to-print platform and upload your own to try them out! If you need help, our customer success team is dying to help out at 1 (877) 222-6010!

Need help from someone who’s reviewed 10,000 photos?

Opportunity Knocks marketing is a sister company to ProspectsPLUS that specializes in white-glove campaigns where they’ll select the best photos for the highest impact! Give them a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and talk to them today!


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