I talk a great deal about the importance of content in modern marketing. There is real value in regularly adding new articles and information to your website, social media, blog etc. For most SME marketers, sitting down to create new content means writing but, to coin a phrase:
A picture is worth a thousand words
Studies of how visitors interact with websites and social media show time and again that images are hugely more attractive than words. Moving images are the most attractive of all. Visuals are a great way to attract people to your content but (normally) the substance of your content will be in the words. This is particularly true in Business to Business (B2B) marketing where you are typically aiming to communicate a message rather than simply entertain your visitor. So B2B marketing content needs imagery to attract attention and words to deliver the message. Ideally these 2 elements can be descriptively linked to give a single communication. But here lies a problem; these 2 elements of words and images are rarely considered together. We regularly talk to people who have commissioned a new website only to find a problem. OK, their new site looks great visually, they then realise that no one has thought about the written content. Consequently, the new site either gets delayed, or worse, is never actually finished. Similarly with newsletters and blog articles, authors write relevant and high quality words but relevant images are an afterthought. Without a picture to attract the eye, the words may never be read.
The cost-value of visual content
Most of us are used to writing as part of our work – even if it is only letters, emails, quotations or invoices. Even so, few of us are regularly faced with having to come up with our own visuals. Commissioning a specialist photographer/ videographer/ designer can cost £100s or even £1000s which is a big reason why marketing content is rarely produced as often as it should be. Good marketing needs new content (with visuals) regularly yet few people can have a professional photographer or designer visiting every month!
So what are the options?
Have a go yourself
This isn’t suitable for everyone but there are some great online tools for designing graphics and even animations yourself. Take a look at Canva as an example for graphics and PowToon for animations. You could also have a go at your own photography or even video. Today’s smartphones are incredibly powerful and can produce some great results. Free apps you can download allow you to tweak and edit your results too. There are also online courses which can give useful information, hints and tips on how to get the most out of your camera. If you are prepared to put the time in to creating pictures and are ready to take lots from all sorts of different positions and angles, you can find yourself coming up with some really quite nice shots. If you have to take 100 to get one decent one then why not. It’s easy to delete the rejections. Have a go, get creative – you have nothing to lose!
There are numerous websites offering a dizzying array of images and videos to download and use. Typically these are ‘Royalty Free’ which means you pay a one-time fee to access the image for use online (for example). You are then free to use the image on your website, blog post etc but if you wanted to use it in a brochure or on an exhibition stand you may be charged more. Stock images can be very high quality but you don’t have exclusivity.You may find a competitor using the same image as you! Stock images fine as far as they go but your own are better.
A final tip
Keep your phone with you as you go about your business and get used to snapping pictures or taking short videos of your work. If you don’t like them you can always delete them but the chances that every now and again you will produce something you can use. There is no question that the more you have a go the better you will get. Your own images belong to you and no-one else!