Putting Visual Marketing to Work for You

In our fast-paced, multi-tasking world, our attention spans have been dramatically reduced. We are bombarded with so much information that often the easiest way to reach consumers and cut through the clutter is with visual marketing. This is the strategy of using visual aids to communicate, increase authority and be more memorable. Photos, videos, infographics, memes, slide shows and the like often make it easier to express data and complex ideas.

According to David Langton and Anita Campbell, authors of Visual Marketing: 99 Ways for Small Businesses to Market with Images and Design (a book the Affinity Express Marketing Team consumed last year!), “Well done infographics allow businesses to communicate powerful brand stories through compelling graphics. The best infographics have an element of entertainment to them and people tend to share infographics, when they might not share the same information presented as text.” This is also true of other forms of visual content.

Here is why businesses large and small are turning to visual marketing:

This is an example of what you could create using Memegenerator.net

This is an example of what you could create using Memegenerator.net

The best place to begin adding visual marketing elements is your website.

  • Make sure that every page of your website and business blog has relevant and interesting images attached to it.
  • Create your own images that represent your content and ideas instead of using generic stock photos.
  • Create video demonstrations of your products and services rather than text reviews and descriptions.
  • Make data and statistics more appealing and “sharable” with infographics.
  • Share and link your visuals across your social media networks.

Tips for Using Visual Marketing:

  • Choose colors wisely: Be intentional about the colors you choose to represent your business, as this will impact sales.
  • Replace words with visuals: Wherever possible use visuals to share your message and tell your story.
  • Paint the town: Make sure your logo, colors, and visuals are an integral part of your marketing communication. Your visual assets need to become synonymous with the perception of your organization to improve recognition.

Some examples of how business use visual are MailChimp, which features a mailman monkey and DropBox, which relies on childlike illustrations to differentiate themselves from other storage services.

Dropbox logo

The best news is that you don’t need a huge budget or team to get started with visual marketing. There are a wide variety of resources for a low or no cost.

Infographics

  • Piktochart Infographic Creator. This is a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) infographic creator for free. It has themes and graphics.
  • Visual.ly. Develop infographics and connect to social media accounts–free! Access Google Analytics through the site to track the effectiveness of your creations (or even create infographics from your website’s Google Analytics report).

* By the way, Slideshare announced yesterday that users can now easily upload, view, embed and share include optimized infographics.

Video

  • Wideo. Sign up for a free account. This service allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images and audio files to use in your videos.
  • Pixorial. Video creation and editing tools are laid out in an intuitive and free user interface. You can upload pictures and raw video footage then organize that media into the sequence in which you want it to appear and insert transitions between elements by selecting them from the transitions gallery. Soundtracks can be selected from the Pixorial gallery or you can upload your own audio files.

Animation

  • Adobe Edge. This tool enables you to develop animations for websites using HTML5 (which is compatible with Apple products unlike Flash). The program has a very easy-to-use and intuitive interface that makes developing animations easy, even for users with very limited programming skills. The animations will run in all of the popular web browsers such as Firefox, IE, Opera, Safari and Chrome and can be created to run on mobile devices such as Androids, Windows Phone 7 and IOS5.
  • Hippo Animator. Providing a quick and simple way to create HTML5 animation, this tool uses the timeline approach where elements and components are placed in frames that can be converted into movies that create the animation. The components can be edited and positioned. Effects can also added as desired by users. Audio in the mp3 format can be easily added to the timeline to give a polished finish. Animated content that can be exported to HTML5 to function in all the major browsers and on all major mobile devices. The cost for a license is $50. This is a tutorial you can check out on how to use Hippo Animator

MailChip MonkeyMemes

  • MemeGenerator.net. You can browse through memes made by others and use the menu to look through different characters, images, what’s popular and the newest memes. Click “Generate an Image” on the left to start building your own meme.
  • Quickmeme. Featured memes are displayed on the homepage and you can browse through the ones that are the most popular, random memes and favorite memes. Clicking “make a meme!” let’s you choose an image to start creating.

Comics

  • Bitstrips. Bitstrips is a free app on Facebook that turns you and your friends (or your employees and customers) into a cast of cartoon characters. Since exploding onto the scene this year, the company reports having nine million unique users and 40 million Bitstrips shared to date.
  • Pixton. The business option for this site is $79 per quarter and allows the creation of an unlimited number of comics without the need up install software.

Diagrams 

  • Gliffy. This is easy to use and requires no complicated software manuals to create professional-quality flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings and more. Just drag-and-drop shapes from an extensive library and point-and-click to format. It works directly in your browser and is free.
  • Hohli Online Charts Builder. You can create bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, Venn diagrams, scatter plots, and radar charts. First, you select the type and size of display that you want. Then you fill in the corresponding form with the information to display. Your chart is generated as you enter information so that you can see how each piece of information changes the visual. When you’re done, you save it to your computer or grab the embed code to use on your blog or website.

Slides

  • Slide.ly. This free, web-based app lets you make slide shows and share them via popular social media sites by choosing pictures from Facebook, Instagram, Flickr or Google, setting them to music, adding some special effects and posting the slide shows to your company’s social media pages.
  • Photosnack.com. Another free tool, this app makes it easy to add photos, create HTML5 slide shows with music and share them on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. There is full compatibility with mobile devices.

Slide Creation Tool

Social Media

  • Pinterest. Small businesses have started to see the value in Pinterest for visual marketing. Professionals such as graphic artists, photographers, interior designers and fashion designers can create storyboards to display their work. Affluent women are the largest segment of the audience and businesses that fall into these categories experience the most engagement: food, fashion, fitness, beauty, décor, crafts, babies, kids, pets and travel. Pinterest has a collection of pins to summarize research and tips under the heading of Visual Marketing Tips, Tools, Best Practices.
  • Instagram. One of the biggest attractions of this site is the ability to add a variety of filters to images, thereby enhancing their appearance. You can feature pictures of your products and services being used by customers or invite them to post and do your marketing for you. There is a higher level of engagement among users with Instagram than other social media because of the specificity to pictures.

Mobile

  • Shopify. The simplest way to showcase your products and sell them on mobile devices is to use a store management system like Shopify. But you have to be willing to scrap the site you have and start over. This will cost you a minimum of $14 a month for a website with up to 25 products, 1 GB of storage and a 2% transaction fee. Bandwidth on all plans is unlimited. Alternatives are Storenvy and Vendio.
  • Zuznow. For a starting price of $35 a month (and no need to abandon your current site), they’ll manage your site, optimize its pages and provide reports on mobile traffic. An “automatic smartphone website creator” does all the work to automatically convert your site to mobile, once mobile users visit it. All you have to do is add a few lines of code to your site.

Mobile Apps

  • The AppBuilder: Created by JamPot Technologies, this service offers application templates that help small businesses create native applications for HTML5 Web App, Native iPhone, iPad and Android (Due October 2013). They are currently running a BETA program to add support for Windows Phone, Surface and Windows 8. The service automatically submits your application to the iTunes App Store, Google Play market or Windows Phone Marketplace. Build and preview an app for free and, after you submit it for distribution, there is a monthly cost.
  • iBuildApp: More than 60,000 mobile apps have been built over the past two years for iPhone, Android, HTML5 and iPad using this do-it-yourself platform that requires no coding. Creating a mobile app with iBuildapp is free and you can have an app published within minutes.

Traverse Traveler, a tourist service for Traverse, Michigan, has a mobile app highlighting attractions for visitors to the Traverse area. It was started by Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas, which provides printed cards for visitors about restaurants and places to visit. But the company has expanded its reach significantly through the app.

Traverse Travel App

Whether you use these tools or the myriad of others available online, the important thing is to get started using visuals such as pictures, images, infographics, videos, graphics, slideshows, animations, etc., to create emotional connections between your company and customers, says Donna Moritz, a visual marketing specialist and founder of the blog Socially Sorted. Ideally, you should try to showcase more than your products. Give prospective clients insight into the culture and message behind your brand. While you are at it, you can show off your staff, store, offices and clients!

Have you tried any of these visual marketing tools? What others can you recommend for small businesses looking to improve their images?

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

2 Responses to Putting Visual Marketing to Work for You

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