I want to talk about stock photography. We all use it - I do as well. Some of it is quite good. But some of it is.....how do I put this politely....so obviously fake it is ineffective. One of my favorite sites is Bad Stock Art. They featured the above image from a search for "nurse" with this caption:
She must be a specialist – with the special ability to hear through her eyeball.
I so wish this were an isolated incident, but I come across this kind of stereotype, cliche crap all too often.
Images convey emotion
Images are used to display emotion in ads. Look at the images you use. Do they inspire the emotional response you want? Do women respond to the emotion, or lack thereof in your images?
As we discuss in The Soccer Mom Myth, women have highly developed B.S. meters. Women can easily sniff out a fake. This is especially true in relationship images - specifically couples, or parent and child images.
Take this image, for example...
My first impression after viewing this was, "Geez, at least pretend to like her." The awkward hand placement just screams to me that this couple is fake. When the image feels fake, the emotional impact the advertiser is hoping to have falls short.
One of the reasons why women respond to social media is because of the plethora of real images. These images are full of real people expressing real emotion.
When you're marketing to women, use real images, or spend the money to do custom photo work. It will be more successful in the end.
Here's more information on what kind of images appeal to women in marketing.