The Importance of Visual Content to an Integrated Marketing Strategy

January 13, 2014

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We are all visual thinkers. 75 percent of the sensory neurons in our brains process visual information. As prospects and customers continue to be bombarded with information in the form of pure text, such as whitepapers and blogs, it can be difficult to differentiate your content from the competition. Visual content can help.

Stanford scholar and author Robert E. Horn explains in his book Visual Language that incorporating visual elements with writing to show and tell simultaneously has many benefits. Visual language aids in decision making, is more persuasive, and makes a better, longer overall impression than simple text. Think about the implications and opportunities that this can have for a marketer, especially in this incredibly fast-paced world of social. You have mere seconds to grab your customers and prospects’ attention, and visual content is the answer.

The Image is the New Headline

There is a famous quote from the father of advertising, David Ogilvy, that says, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” I think this statement holds true today, but with the insertion of a visual element as the new headline. For example, I have seen many instances of text-based content repurposed into a visual format and achieving 10-15 times more views than the original. That is a game changer in the world of content marketing.

Buyers and prospects are now in control, choosing the way in which they consume content. If they are searching on SlideShare or Pinterest for information about your company, you had better have content there in the format that they prefer. This means infographics, interactive presentations, videos and other visual assets need to be a part of your overall integrated content marketing strategy by helping to fuel your social channels.

Repurpose What You Have

You might be thinking to yourself, ‘how am I going to produce all of this new visual content? All I have are boring whitepapers.’ Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb has a great suggestion for repurposing content that can help. “I love using the turkey analogy. People really get that. You start out with the turkey at Thanksgiving and that’s the main event, and then everybody knows that after Thanksgiving you’re eating turkey sandwiches, you have turkey on your salad, and maybe a little turkey hash. Journalists very quickly learn how to treat their stories and their sources like that turkey. That’s not meant to sound derogatory, but you need to understand what your content assets are and how and when to use them.”

The Turkey analogy can easily be applied to visual content as well. Reimagining the content that you already have and interpreting it into a visual medium will not only solve this problem, but it will breathe new life into the content you have already invested in. If you have bandwidth issues or just aren’t sure where to start, there are a few really good, affordable creative agencies out there who specialize in doing just this sort of thing.

Go Visual or Go Home

The challenge of visual content marketing for marketers is to find the right mixture of words, illustrations, and designs to capture a subject and make it memorable and more easily understood. Adding an element of fun to it can go a long way as well. (Think kittens & bacon). At the end of the day, it’s all about finding new ways to generate awareness and leads. If you don’t tap into your audience’s visual side, then you are simply missing opportunities.

Watch this video to learn more about how to integrate visual content into your marketing strategy:

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