Why You Need A Visual Content Marketing Strategy
There are 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S.
Is yours standing out from the competition?
In this post we’ll go over what you need to know to get started with a visual content marketing strategy so you can get attention, increase engagement, and grow your brand.
What is visual content marketing?
Let’s start by defining content marketing.
It’s simply a marketing strategy that involves creating and publishing content that adds value to an audience.
Through emails, blogs, and social media posts you consistently deliver value to potential customers so they start to know, like, and trust your brand.
Visual content marketing brings in photos, videos, and infographics to help cut through the noise and quickly get your message to your audience.
The importance of visual content.
Human brains evolved to process visual information. It helped us avoid danger and made us efficient hunters.
Most of the data sent to our brains every day comes from our eyes.
Our brains use that data to make snap decisions about everything we come into contact with. We quickly decide if something will help or hurt us, or if it can simply be ignored.
Your goal with visual content is to get your customer’s attention and show them that your brand is going to help them thrive.
Visual content marketing statistics:
90% of information sent to the brain is visual.
Posts with images produce a 650% higher engagement rate than text only posts.
The human brain processes images in as little as 13 milliseconds!
“Business” vs. “Brand”
There is a lot of overlap between a business and a brand. Ask 10 people and you’re likely to get 10 different answers.
I like to think of your business as a body and your brand, a personality.
You can have a business without a brand, but you’re not all that fun to be around.
Your brand helps customers connect to your business. As they start to know, like, and trust your brand they start to engage and buy.
A strong brand image creates loyal fans. Think of Apple, Yeti, or Lululemon. Not only will your fans buy from you, they’ll help spread the word.
Your brand’s first impression is crucial.
What is your brand's first impression telling potential customers?
A lot of factors mix to form the overall look and feel of your brand. Things like your logo, your photography, your brand colors, your packaging, and the content you release all contribute to your brand image.
All of these factors need to work together.
They should play off of each other and they should all be at a quality level that matches the work you do.
Most people judge the CREDIBILITY of a business based on their website design. What do you think a pixelated blurry photo on your front page is telling your customers?
First impression statistics:
People form a first impression in as little as 50 milliseconds.
Website first impressions are 94% design related.
In a Stanford study, 75% of users judged a company’s credibility based on their website design.
Why photography is important for your brand image.
Photography is the most important factor in grabbing your audience's attention. People don’t stop scrolling instagram to read a block of marketing text.
Photography is the foundation for how a customer sees your brand.
It’s the first thing they’ll notice on your website, it will boost engagement on your blog and social media posts, and it will show them that your business is run by people just like them.
The 3 images every business needs.
1. What you do
This is arguably the most important image for your brand. This photo can be used on your landing page, as a banner image, on social media, and in your emails.
The right “What you do” photo instantly tells your customers what you do for them, how you can make their life better, and it encourages them to engage so they can improve their life.
What - Kodiak Leather, high quality leather goods for men.
2. How you do it
There’s been a marketing shift towards authenticity in the past decade. Customers want to know, like, and trust the brands they use.
Showing them how you create your products or services allows them to connect with you on a more personal level.
It shows your customers that you work hard to bring quality improvements to their lives.
How - Chad Parkinson, owner of the furniture joint, working on a custom bed frame.
3. Who you are
You need to show who is behind the brand.
People don’t want to do business with nameless faceless organizations. They don’t trust them.
Customers want to see the faces behind the businesses they support.
Who - Brian Rabon, CEO of Braintrust Consulting Group.
4. Some extras
In addition to these 3 must-have images, it’s a good idea to have a small library of photos that fit with your brand identity. You need to consistently deliver valuable content and engage with your audience but;
Even a great photo will lose it’s appeal if customers keep seeing it in every blog post and email.
A small set of images that are relevant to the content you plan to share will help keep things fresh and keep your audience interested.
The importance of high quality photos.
How do we measure image quality?
Without any context, you can judge an image based on technical merit.
Is it in focus?
Is the exposure correct?
Is the horizon straight?
When you add in the context of your brand, you need to dig a little deeper.
Is the photo relevant to the content?
Do the color, lighting, and composition create the mood you want your customers to feel?
Does the image play well with your brand colors or does it look out of place in your marketing?
Good images have the potential to tell a story in an instant.
Is your brand photography telling the right story?
A 5 step guide for your visual content strategy.
Step 1 - Audit your branding
Gather everything that represents your brand. Create a folder on your desktop to collect screenshots and photos so you have all of your brand materials in one place.
The point of this step is to review EVERYTHING and look for inconsistencies or gaps.
Do your paper mailers use different colors than your emails? Are you posting great photos on instagram but the ones on your website are pixelated?
Pay extra attention to these parts of your brand:
Your logo doesn’t need to be complex. It can be as simple as your business name in an easy to read font.
But it does need to be CONSISTENT, and it needs to be EVERYWHERE in your marketing.
Again, think of Apple, Yeti, and Lululemon.
Fans will recognize their logo in a heartbeat; even at a distance, in the rain, through a dirty window.
A little over a year ago I realized my logo no longer fit with my branding. I was moving away from shooting adventure based work so the mountains weren’t as relevant.
I decided to focus on my name, it’s unique (people rarely pronounce it right), and not including “photography” in my logo allows room for my brand to grow into other creative fields.
What are your brand colors?
Think of the mood and emotions you want your colors to stir in your audience. Is your brand bright and bold? Do you want to keep it minimalist and professional with white, black and gray?
These are my colors.
The grayish blues convey trust while staying relatively neutral so they’re not too flashy.
The dark gray and tan make a good “background/text” combo that’s a little different from the normal black and white pairing.
The orange gives me one attention-grabbing color I can use when I want to highlight something important.
If you’re feeling stuck, this post dives deeper into color theory for branding and has some useful color/emotion charts.
Another great tool for finding colors that work well together is Adobe Color.
Pro tip: go to the explore tab and try searching for some of the emotions you want your brand to convey.
We already covered why photography is so important. It’s your brand’s first impression.
Look over all the photos you use. Imagine a customer seeing just one photo with your logo (often that’s your brand’s one chance to make an impression).
Would they want to see more? Is that one photo powerful enough to tell them a story about how you can make their life better?
If it’s not strong enough to stand alone, it still won’t make a great first impression, even with context.
Is your message to your customers clear?
Are you telling them exactly how you can help them?
I recommend reading “Building a Storybrand” by Donald Miller. It’s by far the best marketing book I’ve come across. It’s invaluable for clarifying your message to your customers.
Step 2 - Make your brand cohesive
Now that you have all your marketing materials in one place, you need to make sure that everything connects and works together to represent your brand.
Your logo, colors, photos, and clear message to your customers should match across all platforms.
It may feel repetitive to you, but remember your audience won’t see everything you publish on every channel. You need to be consistent.
Make sure there is consistency between:
Social media (profile photos and bios)
Step 3 - Think about your audience
Who are you trying to reach?
What problems do they have?
How do those problems make them feel?
How can you bring them value by solving these problems and helping improve their lives?
Step 4 - Create content that solves their problems
Brainstorm the ways you can share your knowledge and expertise to solve your customers’ problems.
A good place to start is by answering some of the questions you commonly get asked about your work.
Use tools like Keywords Everywhere to see what topics are being searched and create content that people are already looking for.
Your content should revolve around and relate to your business.
A barber can share weekly styling or hair care tips.
A realtor can blog about the most effective improvements for raising the value of your home.
A gym can share daily nutrition facts or quick fitness challenges to keep their audience engaged.
Step 5 - Make your content visual
Hopefully by now I’ve convinced you that visuals are important.
If you’re creating content that you know will help your audience, make sure it gets their attention. You can’t add value to their lives if they’re ignoring you.
Here are a few of the best ways to make your content visually appealing so people stop scrolling and start engaging:
Use infographics to quickly show facts, statistics, and step-by-step plans.
Work with the right photographer to create images that fit the mood and tell the story of your brand.
Break up your text into (very) small paragraphs, bullet points, or sentence pairs. Add in graphics, photos, or design elements to keep your audience engaged.
Readers don’t like big blocks of text. It feels too much like school.
It’s time for your business to stand out from the competition.
It’s time for your audience to know, like, and trust you.
Now that you know the power of visuals, use them to your advantage to get attention, increase engagement and grow your brand.
Are you already using visual content in your marketing? What do you find works best for you? What do you need help with?
Helping small businesses improve their first impression so they stand out in a crowded marketplace.
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