In this blog you’re going to get compulsive information and advice from a brand where the right product photography helped take the sales for a great little British Brand from pretty much zero to hero in a ridiculously short time.

You’ll learn thanks to the openness and honesty of one business owner as she goes through her thought processes, her diligence to the real needs of her Brand to shine (rather than a perceived version) and realising how to make it all happen… and then 100% making it happen.

What follows on is a really interesting chat I had with Emma Warren, the owner of Doris & Coa fabulous Brand I was first a customer with and then in recent years on a professional basis with.  I’m the lucky owner of a number of Doris items and fortunate to have been gifted quite a few pieces too over the year.

There’s a magnificent persona about Doris, but I’ll let Emma introduce ‘her’ later.

There’s been many a time over the last few years when a piece of Doris & Co has featured in either a photograph of my own or one for any number of other brands as the perfect complimentary prop.  Emma Warren, the owner of this Brand, is an incredible business woman whose skills to build a Brand, re-develop a brand or even re-build one transcend a huge variety of business types.  From shiny jewellery, through to hospitality and even into the world of widgets and engineering, Emma has a long track record and a wealth of knowledge she’s always ready to share with others.  We often chat about business in general when we are working on a photographic project together but it was when we were nearly at the end of an on-going project for Doris & Co that we both realised that what was going on with this one brand was a perfect example of how the right photography for a situation can make a big difference to sales.

So I decided to interview her about the process she’d been through…

RB – For those that aren’t aware yet, what or who is Doris & Co?
EW – Doris & Co is a British brand and currently sells creamware mugs and jugs adorned with mottoes with meaning. Made at one of the last remaining traditional potteries in the UK, Doris has heritage aplenty.

But she’s actually more than that, ever since I’ve known her Doris has been quite a personality, I talk about her in the third person and I actually quite admire her. You see, Doris is for most definitely for Doers, she takes no messing from anyone but she is first there with a mug of tea or coffee and a motivational phrase to prop you up. She has bosoms, not boobs, is never afraid to ask for information and would probably have ridden side saddle, hedge hopping with the best of them – fortified by a sloe gin hip flask and sensible underwear.

I imagine her with a Labrador at foot and a terrier on her lap and always ready to dispense the most useful of advice. She is practical and quick-witted and never worries if her cake has sunk or her kitchen is messy. She really is quite a role model for me.

RB – She sounds quite a character and I can really envisage her and what purpose in life she has now! I understand that you didn’t start the brand, so how did it come into your possession?
EW – I first came across Doris on facebook and purchased her Beloved mug for my husband for Valentine’s Day. When it arrived, I was really impressed by the quality and the way the mug just seemed to be so easy to hold in the hand. I found myself making my tea in the Doris mug and I kind of requisitioned it for my own use – some present eh! I continued to follow Doris’s facebook and I loved the quirkiness of the brand and the fact that she stood for something. To cut a long story short, a while later, Louise, the lady who had started the Doris brand, had come to a decision to sell her and put a post on her facebook page asking if anyone was interested. We chatted and I ended up purchasing the Doris brand and the stock.

RB – It was the quality that first attracted me when I bought the ‘Small Acorns’ mug.  As you say, it just feels and fits well in your hand.  Historically how have you marketed Doris & Co?
EW – Soon after I became the owner of Doris, we started Dimpsey, our glamping business, and it took off far quicker than I had ever imagined and I was really pushed for time. We had a lot of old stock to sell through on Doris and she already had a website and her social, so I reluctantly decided that I had to let Doris tick along rather than start implementing my ideas for new products – mainly to ensure that Doris would survive and I would be able to manage my workload. I did design a Mr & Mrs mug and a few other simple designs, but in the main she remained fairly static. It’s a testament to the strength of the Doris products and brands, that with regular posting from Amy who works with me, she ticked along gently. So to be honest, she didn’t get loads of marketing but I really didn’t want to part with her.

RB – What was it that made you rethink this strategy?
EW –  Then comes 2020 and lockdown and when I was reviewing what to do, I decided that although I didn’t have time to do loads with Doris, her website was creaking and when we made sales it was on Etsy, not the site. So I decided to move everything over to Etsy to make it really easy to manage her, and the sales stayed about the same – not massive, just ticking along.

RB – What did you change and how did you implement those changes?
EW –  My next project was to get some shop photos done for Dimpsey and while I was doing them with Rachel, I decided that Doris really should have a bit of a makeover as well. So, we decided on a suitable backdrop and went through and updated all the photographs – I wanted the shop to look a bit more professional in preparation for some changes I wanted to make on products and so thought it was a good time to do it.

RB – What lessons, if any, did you learn through the process of re-market.
EW – So at this point, the only thing that changed was the photos – I decided I wanted to see the effect of just changing the product photos at first, so I didn’t update the shopfront and I didn’t load any new products. It was a good opportunity to experiment as I knew that we would be able to see the impact of the change.

Top Left –  the style of product photography being used originally.
Bottom Left – the new style of product photography adopted.
Right Column – the reported difference in sales year on year, together with critical visitor information.

RB – As a result of these changes what was the first thing you noticed?
EW – The results were really surprising, literally the day after I updated the photos the sales started coming in and they really picked up on previous performance. I deliberately didn’t update anything else or push it on social and the sales continued and as you can see from the graph attached it made a big difference to customer views and subsequently to sales. Given that the only thing that changed was the photography, the increase in sales had to be down to that.

RB – Do you believe the changes have impacted the sales enough to justify any costs involved and the time spent?
EW –  The costs have been more than recovered in sales, we had a systemised approach to getting the photos so it reduced the time Rachel and I had to commit to it, and the added unexpected bonus was that I fell in love with Doris all over again and she is about to move front and centre on some product developments I’m doing.

RB – Now you are a few months on from those changes how do you feel?
EW –  I love the photography and I love that Doris has been reinvigorated, I feel her looking on approvingly with a gin and tonic in hand and excited for the next phase of Dorisness.

RB – If you have a golden nugget of a tip to pass on to another business considering doing these photographic changes what would it be?
EW – My golden nugget of advice is to do this sort of thing in a considered way, you’re creating a brand, not just chucking some photos together – even if they are for web shop photos rather than lifestyle – so think about who your customer is, what would they like to see, prepare a list of what you want to achieve and organise everything ready before the shoot. Working with Rachel is always a joy, as right from the outset she always does her homework to make sure that she understands what you and the brand need and adapts what she does to ensure that you get a really professional, unique to you, representation of your brand.

I want to thank Emma for taking the time to answer the questions I posed to her and the generous way she has expanded on how she did things, what she took into consideration in order to have a clearer picture of the results and also providing some tangible visuals for you to see the difference.

If you want to find out more about Emma and how she might also be able to help you then why not head to her website here.  You can also find Emma dishing out some great advice through her social media platforms:

Instagram: @emmawarren_1
Facebook:  Emma Warren
LinkedIn:  Emma Warren

For now,

Rachel x

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