Visuals play a huge role in making your product, service or content stand out and get a larger chunk of consumer’s mind. So you need to understand how to leverage the full potential of visual marketing.
After stripping down the complicated jargon, Visual Marketing means using visuals (infographics, photos, videos etc.) to target and connect with your audience.
The definition might look simple, but the implementation takes careful planning and effort. Otherwise, you not only risk alienating your target audience but also spending thousands of dollars in the wasted effort.
So in this post, I will help you with questions that you or your marketing team must ask and answer as you build a visual marketing strategy.
Why Invest In Visual Marketing?
Now I want you to be really honest with yourself. Why visual marketing looks like a good idea to you?
Is it because you read a ton of blog posts and trends indicating the importance of visuals in modern marketing? Is it because it looks trendy and cool? Or because a mentor, friend or your boss recommended that you must?
Think carefully about it. The things you read or opinions you heard about visual marketing exist in a different context than yours. Every industry, business model or product is different. So there’s no certainty that visual marketing will work in your situation.
It may happen that your business has different resources, target audience or objective as compared to other brands which are reaping huge rewards from visual marketing.
So the “why” question is extremely important to save yourself from going down a road that may not lead to the desired destination.
Only if your answer to this question is based on the needs of your prospects and the voice of your brand, you can be sure that visual marketing is the right path.
What Do I Want From Visual Marketing?
As with every aspect of marketing your business, visual marketing should have an objective, and a tangible way to measure performance considering that objective.
Without a goal in place, neither would you know how your visual marketing is doing nor what should be done when faced with a hard decision. Here’s a list from which you can find and set one or two objectives. The goal may be to:
- Engage your target audience and grow a strong community
- Make it easy for prospects to connect with you
- Make more people aware of your brand
- Reach target audience and turn them into leads
- Grow your sales/revenue from a new campaign
Think carefully about each objective and decide what you want from visual marketing. You can pick one or two, but not more. The surest way to fail with visual marketing is to try and do everything.
Who Do I Want To Target?
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of visual marketing. If you have no idea about:
- who are the people you want to reach,
- what are their needs and goals,
- how and why do they use your product or service
- and other relevant information related to them,
There are many methods when it comes to being more familiar with your prospects. If you already have some customers using your product, just set up some kind of feedback system, or request them to take a small survey.
Or check out what people are saying and asking about your niche in relevant forums, blog comments, and social media websites. This will allow you to go deeper, uncover hidden needs and create content which really strikes a chord and meets your marketing objectives.
What Story Do I Want To Tell?
This is the time to decide what you want the prospects to think about your brand. What do you want to be known for?
Each visual you create will have a few sentences about your business. You’ll use this space to proudly introduce your brand.
People who connect with your brand on social media surely want to know more. So help them by optimizing your visual content to showcase your business.
If you have created a video, for example, there will be a little description/slogan and logo at the end. Here’s an example:
But be careful to make sure that you’re not being too aggressive with this. The visual content should be entertaining, inspiring and useful to the audience. It shouldn’t come across as just a sales pitch.
Whether it’s a Facebook cover, an infographic or video, make sure people can easily notice your logo, but only in a way that it doesn’t interfere with the core content.
Which Channels Do I Want To Dominate?
There are already more social media channels than you can successfully handle as a business and new ones are popping up rapidly. But one thing is certain:
Major social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Snapchat and more are increasingly focusing on a great visual experience. So visual marketing is now more important than ever.
But the trick with social media is to understand that a business doesn’t have to be everywhere every time. You can either build a solid presence in a few networks or an average presence in all. My vote goes to the former approach.
So you need to know the channels you want to target. Two factors will help you make that decision:
- What content creation abilities and resources you currently have
- Which social networks are used the most by your target audience
For example, if you have a strong video creation team or toolset, and you know that your target audience hangs out on Youtube, that’s a great social network for you then.
Another example is if you’re targeting a B2B audience, then using Slideshare with Linkedin will make more sense. Or maybe millennials are who you want to reach, for which the best networks are Instagram & Snapchat.
Once you’ve picked one or two channels, you need to learn as much as you can and become an expert in that channel. Read blogs, take courses it you have to and do small budget experiments to learn what works.
Start interacting with the influencers on those networks to get a sense of their personalities and needs. Take a look at profiles and pages of your competitors to check on what and how they’re doing. In short, when you pick a channel, give it all you’ve got.
What Kind Of Visual Content Will I Create?
You already answer this question a little bit when answering #5. But to fully answer this question, you need to go a bit deeper.
It’s critical to take into account the context of each visual. You can’t just start posing tall infographics on your Facebook page because they work extremely well only on Pinterest.
- Infographics and Slideshares usually need thorough research on a topic and days to create.
- Photos, memes, screenshots etc. can be created quickly for instant consumption
- Videos can be anything: long live streams, documentaries, tutorials or short clips for Snapchat, Instagram or Vine.
So before deciding on the types of visual content you want to create, you should analyze on what channels it’ll be published and what’s your goal with it.
Who will Create The Visual Content?
I’ll be frank with you. Not everyone can create compelling visual content. I know there are a ton of DIY design tools these days claiming to turn you into a great designer or video creator without advanced skills, but you still won’t be able to create engaging visual content, at least in the first attempt.
There are a lot of readymade templates that these tools provide. So you don’t have to start from scratch. But most of these templates look good only when they’re kept as they are as possible.
When you edit a template too much, in most instances you end up making it worse because you’re not a trained designer or may not have an eye for good design.
So you still need to figure out who is going to design your visuals or create the videos. It should be someone with a good eye for design, a bit of creativity and a knack for a hands-on craft.
When it comes to assigning responsibilities for visual marketing, I believe it’s best to keep “visual” and “marketing” separate. Let the visual guy make the visuals and marketer should focus on marketing.
Now I know that as a small business, you may not have enough budget to have two people instead of one. If you want the same person to handle both the visual creation and marketing aspects, you can.
But realistically, it’s not wise to expect the same results you would have gotten with a professional whose sole focus is design.
Who Are The Influencers In My Niche?
I already touched upon this in question #5. Before you start interacting with influencers, you need to search around and identify who they are.
They may be celebrities, vloggers, bloggers or authors. And you should select the ones which are closely relevant to your brand and target audience.
Once you’ve made a list of influencers you want to build relationships with, it’s time to understand what they want and think about how you’re going to get them on your side.
You can either pay your way to influencer word-of-mouth or start building a mutually beneficial relationship. Interact with them on social media, comment on their blog posts, share their work and try to find ways you can help them and get in their good books.
Once you’ve built a good rapport, you can start showing them the content you create and request them to share it with their respective followers.
What’s My Distribution Plan?
Once you’ve created and published your content, the work isn’t over. You’ll need to make sure that it sees the light of the day and gets as much exposure as possible. You’ll need to give the time and effort for the audience to see and consume the content. So think about when, how many times, where and how you’ll distribute the content.
You’ll need to try out and pick one of the social media scheduling tools like Buffer, Hootsuite or other to make sure your content gets shared plenty of times on the channels you want to dominate.
When you’ll give enough time for the audience to consume your content, they’ll eventually start sharing it with their own communities, starting a viral chain.
What Will I Test To Optimize Performance?
When building a visual marketing strategy for the first time, there will be many things that you’re not sure about.
From the social networks to pick the kind of visuals to create, there are many decisions to make and very little information to make them.
That’s why it’s important to keep an open mind and try new things. Take small steps and see what fits your brand and resonates with your audience.
As you keep experimenting, patterns will emerge. You’ll begin to understand what works and what doesn’t, maximizing the power of visual marketing with time.
That was all for now. With this series of questions, I hope you’ll be able to create a visual marketing strategy to take your brand to the next level.
Asking penetrating questions about your business is one of the most important skills to practice. It’s only when you answer such questions truthfully that you discover the real state of your business, and how to get to the goal to want.