“Marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems.” Seth Godin, This Is Marketing.
The best marketing resonates with its audience and spurs them into action. In This Is Marketing, Godin writes about how marketing doesn’t have to be selfish. Instead, it should be a “generous act of helping others become who they seek to become.” Godin is the master of the inspirational marketing quote, but think about the brands that you interact with the most. We’re willing to bet that these brands mean something to you personally or professionally. You not only enjoy their product or service, but you feel inspired by their content and culture.
This marketing philosophy jives with research that is coming out today about younger generations. In her book Instabrain: The New Rules for Marketing to Generation Z, Sarah Weise writes about a research study that found a major difference in how older and younger generations approach their content:
“Older generations ask, ‘What do I want?’ then go to a search engine and find it. But today’s youth do not think in these terms. Millennials and Generation Z alike tend to ask, ‘What should I want?’ then rely on scrolling through feeds to find inspiration.”
It’s a little freaky to be at the mercy of an algorithm, but marketers need to stay top of mind by providing interesting content consistently and quickly. In our opinion, the easiest way to do this is through compelling visuals. Photos, videos, graphics, and more will grab a viewer’s attention easily and deliver a message instantly. If you want to be effective with your visuals, here are a few items to keep in mind:
Understand Your Customer
This is an obvious statement, but it is one that bears repeating. What do they think of your brand right now? How and where do they interact with you both online and offline? What do they want to know? What do they want to see?
It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I have the best idea for a photo,” and it turns out to be different from what their customers want to see. Don’t focus on what you think is “cool.” You need to create visuals that will help you connect with your audience, and that may or may not align with your personal views. Do your research prior to photoshoots or while developing other content.
Tell a Story
Impactful visuals tell a story. Patagonia posts photos of people using their gear and wearing their clothing while on adventures. Lego gets creative with visuals by using their products in fun and interesting ways. AMA Baltimore uses their visuals to demonstrate community within their association.
When you view these images, you want to go exploring with Patagonia, build something creative with Lego, or (hopefully) join AMA Baltimore at an upcoming event. Seeing products on their own or reading a list of services doesn’t carry the same weight as seeing the product or benefits in action.
Feature Real People
Using real people that interact with your brand — employees and clients — humanizes your brand. Generic stock photos can create a disconnect with the story that you’re trying to tell. Visuals that contain real people are easier to connect with and are attention-grabbing. It’s authentic.
The added benefit to using real people is that they can offer insights on how to best display your product or service in photos. Employees are some of the best assets you can have on a photo shoot because they know their job the best. Engineers show off the unique features on machines. Personal trainers work through interesting exercises that are unique to their programs. Marketers aren’t always intimate with these details, so it is helpful to have the pros’ insights.
Creative Design & UX
Web and graphic design can make or break your visuals. Poor design can lessen the impact of your images on your website, social accounts, and more. Not all web developers and graphic designers are created equally. It is important to find professionals that understand how visuals need to function for each of your marketing needs. The last thing you want is to feature grainy images or have a visual that is so large it doesn’t load fast enough. Even worse, slow loading times can impact your website’s SEO.
The combination of excellent design and stunning imagery gives a brand credibility. It sends a message that you care about your company and in turn, that you care about your clients. Creating a website that is easy to navigate or utilizing compelling graphic design in your online and print materials conveys a level of quality that can set you apart from your competition.
Don’t Be Afraid of Professionals
We all love a good DIY project, but great marketers know that there is a time and place for it. Hiring a pro doesn’t make your brand “fake.” Collaborating with a pro makes you efficient and allows you to bring your vision to life. Professionals want to create visuals that are effective for your marketing and will work with you to create something spectacular. They understand lighting and composition, and they have the tools and experience to get the best shots for you.
For your photos, you can choose to have a candid look or go for something more staged. If you’ve researched your audience and know what they want to see, you will be able to collaborate with your photographer to capture something beautiful — and effective.
It is easy to think that marketing is all about your brand, product, services, and culture, but truthfully, it isn’t about you at all. Marketing is about creating connections and providing solutions to your audience. Create inspiration with your visuals and build your tribe.
Coyle Studios is a proud AMA Baltimore sponsor. To learn more about Coyle Studios, visit their website. Photo credit: Coyle Studios.