Branding Isn’t Just For Cattle
I’ve been creating marketing communications and branding campaigns for over 35 years. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered this kind of scenario from clients. It goes something like this.
You’re right in the midst of what you think is your final sales meeting with the potential client, putting the final details of the content marketing strategy that you’ve proposed in place.
And then it happens. Your client looks at you, smiles, and says this:
“We’re very excited to get started on this with you. There’s just one little thing…”
Then she tells you about a few interesting statistics she had come across somewhere, which brought her to the conclusion that visual content is absolutely essential to the success of their marketing efforts.
“Would you be able to throw in some social media graphics, an infographic or checklist to accompany each blog post, and perhaps an ebook to round things out?” she asks, still smiling. “And an accompanying visual marketing strategy for them, of course.”
A bead of sweat rolls down your forehead. You now have a few hours to whip up a solid visual marketing strategy to complement the already-solid content marketing strategy you had proposed earlier.
What do you do? Wipe that sweat off your forehead. We’re here to help you.
A 4-Step Visual Marketing Process
Your potential client isn’t wrong.
Statistically speaking, visuals are great at boosting the performance of your content, whether they’re found in your blog posts, social media platforms, or even restaurant menus.
Yes, restaurant menu items that have accompanying images are ordered 30% more times than those without!
To get maximum benefit from them, however, visuals need to be used in a targeted manner.
Infographics are great for generating leads, but the results can be multiplied manifold if they’re used as a content upgrade in a relevant blog post.
They also need to be high quality – it’s not enough to simply throw together some text and a couple stock photos.
Multiply these expectations by the number of clients you have, and suddenly it becomes a huge amount of work to do. That is, if you don’t have a well-defined process to guide your visual marketing efforts.
Here’s a simple four-step guide that will help you create a visual marketing strategy for your clients.
1. Establish Visual Identity
First and foremost, you need to clarify what your client’s visual identity looks like.
According to JCI Marketing, a visual identity is “the visual aspect of branding that businesses create in order to evoke certain feelings and experiences with the brand.”
This might include the brand’s colors, logo, and fonts.
But more than just individual components, your client’s visual identity should convey the personality and values of their business.
If your client is unsure of this, you might need to clarify the latter aspects of the business with them first – what personality do they want to portray, and what values do they want to be known for? Ask them these questions before deciding which components would best demonstrate their visual identity.
Once your client’s visual identity has been established, your job is to then ensure that all visuals created are consistent with it.
2. Align With Goals
Next, have a look at the broader content marketing goals you’ve decided on. Which visual content types would be most suitable in helping you reach those goals faster?
Here’s where visual marketing strategies tend to go off the rails. Marketers might give in to FOMO (fear of missing out) and be tempted to try everything and anything that seems trendy.
Often times, “trendy” visual content types tend to require the most effort to create. Videos and ebooks are a great example of this.
So before you go committing to way more visual content than you can handle, it’s worth taking some time to consider which types would be best suited to your end goal.
If your client’s marketing goal is to increase organic traffic by earning high-quality backlinks, infographics paired with guest posts – or as Brian Dean puts it, “guestographics” – would be a great choice.
Take this infographic which we created and published on Typeform’s blog, for example:
Alternatively, you could even find top-performing articles in your client’s niche, repurpose them into infographics, and then pitch the relevant blogs to consider adding it to their articles.
Either way, you’d be building high quality backlinks in the most efficient manner possible, meeting your marketing goals.
Once you’ve decided on which visual content types you’ll be using, consider creating templates that you can reuse for other clients who might have the same needs. This would greatly accelerate the visual content creation process.
3. Determine Distribution Channels
Which brings us to the next question: How to ensure that your visual content is actually seen by people?
In some cases, such as with guestographics, distribution is built-in.
For most, however, you would need to consider which channels would be the best fit for your visuals.
If you’re looking to promote infographics or tall images with text overlays, for example, Pinterest would be a natural fit. This is because vertical Pins look better in Pinterest’s layout, and as such, tend to do better:
Be sure to make full use of platforms that were created with the distribution of your visual content of choice in mind.
For instance, there are several Facebook groups that allocate specific days or posts for open sharing of content. The Ultimate Travel Group (UTG) does this every Friday:
Again, it’s useful to keep an ongoing log of the different distribution channels you choose for your visual content types. That way, you can quickly refer back to it when creating the same content for future clients.
If your client already has established distribution channels, then this simply becomes a case of checking to see which are performing the best. Whether it be in terms of eyeballs or leads and depending on the goals, determine what works then double down on them.
4. Set A Schedule
Here’s the final and most important piece of the puzzle. How do you stay consistent?.
At With Content, I’ve worked with many content marketing clients who begin the work feeling super pumped about the strategy we’ve decided on.
At the beginning, they’re constantly throwing ideas and and sharing everything that we publish. One month later, the tone changes abruptly. They start asking me questions such as:
Why are we only getting X pageviews still? How is it that no one is sharing our content? Is our content really good enough?
No matter how hard I try, I can’t make them understand that great content marketing takes time. Yes, you can hack your way to get a boost of traffic in the early stages.
But if you’re not constantly producing and building up a library of helpful and inspirational content, that influx of new visitors are going to leave as fast as they came.
Your graph will end up looking a lot like this:
What you really want is for your graph to look like this instead:
As such, the final and most important element of your visual marketing strategy would be to create a content calendar and establish a publishing schedule.
Here’s a great content calendar example from CoSchedule:
If your first ebook doesn’t gain traction, don’t stop producing. If your first hundred social media posts get close to zero engagement, don’t stop producing.
As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By consistently producing great visual content, you’re preparing your client not just for a single, short-lived shot at glory, but long-term success.
My Dad was a Creative Director all his life. I spent my youth working in the agency, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. All those experiences made me into a thinker, dreamer and doer that specializes in integrated branding, marketing, digital and public relations services. I feel my key value to clients is the ability to turn creative concepts into analytically driven marketing plans and tools with greater stopping power & relevance, leading to greater results.
January 14, 2021
January 1, 2021