I spent some time talking with one of our resident marketing experts and Chief Innovation Officer, Mona Sharif, about the big wide world of before and after photos.
For some practices, they are a huge pain point, where providers feel obligated to awkwardly solicit images of people in very vulnerable situations.
For others, they are marketing gold, helping to bring in tons of leads and new patients.
So how do you build a good before and after library? How do you overcome patient objections in a tasteful way? Are they even important? Read some insider thoughts on these issues and more below.
For those that don’t know, this is us.
(Left: Mona Sharif, Chief Innovation Officer. Right: Christian Shepherd, Content Strategist)
Christian: Good morning, Mona! Are you ready to answer some questions about the universal woes of before and after photos?
Mona: I never thought I’d be in a place to speak about something so monumental in my life… but I want all the little kids out there to know, dreams do come true.
Christian: Perfect! So, I thought we could start by just getting the big question out of the way: Are before and after photos even important?
Mona: That would be like asking a musician if it was important to focus on the beat. Of course they are. It is so important to focus on before and after photos because they are a testament to your ability as an aesthetic provider and they are one of the number one factors people will use when determining whether or not they want to choose you.
Christian: I know some providers are probably wondering if we are talking to them. So let’s clarify: Do you think that before and after photos are a luxury for established practices? Or, at this point, are they more of a requirement for everyone?
Mona: You need to invest in a solid before and after photo strategy as soon as you open your doors. If it is just you without much of a supporting cast, it can be difficult but not impossible. The best way to set yourself up for success is to make sure you invest early into your before and after process. It should basically be a part of your start-up plan. And you should make sure it’s part of your social strategy — we follow a baker to see their cakes, we follow you to see your work too.
Christian: But just having them isn’t really the end-all, be-all goal, right? You also want to take effective photos. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to know how to take really good before and after photos?
Mona: I would say to make sure the photos you take are absolutely timeless. I recommend sticking to white backgrounds because it is the easiest to keep relevant for years. White never goes out of style, but color palettes and designs do. Also, stick to three or four angles that your photos capture for each procedure. You want to make sure that you have the basic angles that show conditions and progress clearly covered, and you want to keep your backgrounds clean. I see people are using curtains or going to different areas in their office as backgrounds for their images.
Christian: Why is that such a big blunder?
Mona: It breaks consistency, and the internet loves consistency. If someone is wearing a black thong in one photo, wear something similar in the next photo. Details like that make your results look legitimate and the more legit, the more confidence your potential patients will have in you.
Christian: Any other advice on things to avoid?
Mona: People are getting smarter than ever when it comes to consuming information online — if you post a photo of someone wearing makeup in the after photo, but the before photo was makeup-less, people will call that out in the comments so keep that in mind.
Christian: You’ve worked with countless practices, having helped them strategize and build their before and after photo library. We know that many aesthetic professionals have a hard time actually getting patients to agree to sharing their images. Can you tell us why patients aren’t really interested in having before and after photos taken?
Mona: Ultimately, it comes down to privacy. They just don’t want people to know that they have done something, they want to be part of the crew that “woke up like this.” Luckily, that crew is diminishing.
Christian: How can providers overcome that objection?
Mona: So, let’s just clear something up really quickly: Every patient should have a before and after photo taken for your and their records. You reach the objection when you ask them to share it online. So the objection isn’t necessarily about having an image taken, it’s about putting it out there for the world to see.
One way you can overcome this is to position the conversation from the angle of feeling mutual pride about the results you achieved. Another way is offering to block out identifying parts of their bodies before going online.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is that it is really all about the delivery. You have to find a way to deliver the request in the way that makes your patients feel the most comfortable. It will take some trial and error, but once you find it, memorize it and train your entire staff on how to do it.
Christian: Time out. That might surprise a lot of people. Do you think getting your staff to contribute to before and after efforts is actually an important step in all this?
Mona: Yes, your staff has to understand that capturing before and after photos is critical to your success as a practice. They also need to understand that they are key players in terms of building your before and after library.
Christian: Do you think that it is, ultimately, somewhat of a numbers game?
Mona: It is definitely a numbers game. Let’s say you saw 60 patients in a month, and ask all of them if you can share their images to your social media or website: you are bound to have some of those patients say yes and get a substantial number of new before and after images. That is why it should be woven into your intake process so that it doesn’t become such a big fuss.
Christian: Do you have any tips for providers out there who want to do more than just the expected in their before and after programs?
Mona: Video is critical. People see video content as raw and unaltered, so they trust it more than images because of the fact that we live in a world of Photoshop and Facetune. So be sure to take video before and after footage as often as you can.
Christian: Wait… Why does video footage of before and after results give them an edge?
Mona: Video is the main form of content on social media now. The big two are Instagram and TikTok. It should go without saying at this point, but Instagram is all about Reels and video footage, and we all already know TikTok is a video platform.
Christian: Great point. So, as we draw toward the end of our questions, can you point to the most common mistakes you see aesthetic professionals making when it comes to gathering before and after photos?
Mona: I think the number one mistake is simply not making collecting your photos or video part of your process and losing out on hundreds of opportunities because it isn’t part of your protocol. I think the other mistake outside of that is not being consistent with how or where the photos are being taken.
Christian: Any final words of advice you want to impart?
Mona: Ask and you shall receive. You cannot be too shy to ask. One of the things I deal with all the time is providers saying their clientele isn’t interested in before and after photos without really giving it a shot or going through the trial and error that is necessary to find a successful process. Don’t assume that it’s not for you, and don’t overthink it, treat it like a normal part of the process.
Want More Info on Elevating Your B&A Photos?
Knowing how to create a good before and after program and actually putting in the work are two different efforts entirely. If you feel like you need some help getting started or taking the next step, give us a call at (800) 949-0133 or schedule a one-on-one. Our educators are here to answer any questions you have, anytime, for free.