In the age of social media and shrinking attention spans, brands and marketers have a tougher job of converting leads into sales because we are now dealing with well-informed and easily distracted customers.
One second they’re reading your content or looking at your ads, the next second they’re someplace else. It only takes eight seconds (or less) to stand out from the crowd or be forgotten.
Whilst larger brands have enough resources to spend on several marketing initiatives, small businesses don’t have a lot of money, time or staff at their disposal. Their marketing dollars need to be spent wisely. This is why marketing experts suggest small business owners must make visual marketing their top priority. Various studies have shown consumers respond better to visual information than plain text. It’s a cost-effective tactic and, most of the time, delivers results faster than any marketing strategy. It’s a marketing strategy that packs a punch!
There are a myriad of ways to leverage visual marketing to grow your business. You can use them in your:
- Social media account(s)
- Blog(s) – branded images/videos, infographics
- Online campaigns
- Email marketing
- Offline branding – PowerPoint slideshows, banners, business cards, billboards, etc.
But remember, not all visuals are created equal. It’s important to have the skills to know how to choose or create images that will sell and convert.
To help you figure out which ones will deliver results, here are some tips to help your business target customers with effective visual marketing:
Never sacrifice the quality of your visuals
Low quality images or videos are a no-no in visual marketing. Remember, the people who will see them will associate your brand or products with these visuals. So invest only in high resolution visuals. They should be clean, crisp, and in focus. The idea or message should be apparent at first glance. Stock photography is a good source of inexpensive high resolution visuals. If you’re resourceful, you can find free, good quality stock photos online.
Tourism Australia Instagram account
The image can stand alone even without words
How will you say, “You can trust us” visually? Or, “We have what your need”? Your visuals, especially your ads, should clearly communicate the message or its purpose even if your audience doesn’t read the text. Creativity can put your campaigns right in front of your audience.
AirAsia: Stop Dreaming campaign
Your target audience should be able to see themselves in your design
This is where your clear profile of your target market will come into play. Your audience must be able to relate quickly and positively to your message. Like with millennials who are tech-savvy, they want to discover new and dynamic things. They are after instant gratification and are always “connected”. So use only the images that they can relate to and can be shared in social media.
The Wellington Works, new talent attraction campaign designed to put Wellington on the radar for Australian tech talent
Appeal to your audience’s strong emotions
Our emotions are the primary driver of both our online and offline actions. So think about how you will feel when you see your own visual campaign and how those feelings affect your own buying decisions. That’s probably the same action your audience will make. Common emotional triggers that you can tie to your campaigns include fear, guilt, trust, value, instant gratification, belonging, competition, trend-setting, leadership, etc.
Dove: Real Beauty campaign
Optimise your visuals for search
If you optimise your images, you can create more traffic for your website or social media page through search engines (e.g. Google Images). Think of hashtags and popular search terms. Find out which search terms are frequently used online, and how that could apply to your image optimisation.
Stihl: Get Real. Get Outside campaign
Put a spin on a generic photo
It’s fine to use a stock photo, but be sure to make it work for your brand/campaign. Use visuals with a purpose and not for the sake of having one.
Salesforce: 130 Sales Tips for 2015
Aussie Apples: ‘Refresh Yourself’
Don’t limit yourself to photos
Use other visual assets such as charts, graphs, infographics, illustrations, and typographic images in your website, blog, social media, etc. to supplement your brand.
Harnessing the power of visuals will make your marketing more powerful, persuasive, and memorable. People respond better to images because they’re easily digestible. When done right, the images you use will help people think of your brand and your message, and will remember you when they’re ready to take an action.
Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.