Show, Don’t Tell
For those who remember High School English, whenever it came to creative writing, our teachers instructed us to show, rather than tell, a particular action. Those wonder years are in the rearview mirror for most of us but one thing remains; showing your audience rather than telling them is a staple of getting your message across. Fast forward to some of the best marketing strategies being implemented today by small and large companies and you’ll find one constant: visual content marketing is the key to increased traffic and engagement.
The use of visual content marketing is crucial for any organization because of the way our brains work. Because the gray matter between our ears processes images 60,000 times faster than text, organizations should rely on visually demonstrating the importance of their value proposition rather than trying to explain it. Imagine taking 15 to 30 seconds necessary to convey a written message in a way to ensure comprehension and compare it to a visually compelling method that requires less than 1 second. When comparing these two scenarios, why wouldn’t everyone leverage visually compelling assets as part of their marketing mix?
It’s worth noting that we can’t explain every detail visually, but we can speed the comprehension and engagement by connecting with our audience on an emotional level. We’ve come a long way from living in caves and communicating by drawing pictures on the wall. But the fact remains that when possible, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Telling your story visually
Because our brains are capable of processing images much faster, organizations should effectively leverage imagery when telling their story. Faster processing is not the only reason visual storytelling should be the norm rather than the exception. The fact that engagement significantly increases when stories are told visually is of utmost importance. In fact, 80% of people remember things they see or experience compared to 20% of people who remember what they’ve read. Reading comprehension is critically important (we would not have graduated high school without it), but visual storytelling is much more important.
With the amount of stimulation the average person is bombarded with on a daily basis (work, traffic, television, the kids), we can only retain so much. If the key for organizations is to carve out meaningful real estate in someone’s mind as quickly as possible, it’s better to use tools that offer 80% retention compared to those touting only 20%. In short, those who tell their story visually ensure retention and greater engagement.
The best tools for visual content marketing
Now that we’ve illustrated (pun intended) the importance of imagery in our marketing, the question becomes what imagery works best? Most would agree that photographs, videos and illustrations make for excellent visual content when telling a compelling story and conveying your value proposition. Each one has its advantages and the ease and affordability associated with each type of asset plays a role in which tools organizations choose.
The most common type of imagery used in marketing might be the photograph. We’ve been using pictures in marketing for about 100 years and it’s just as effective today as it was at the turn of the 20th century.
It’s true that photography has seen a bit of a revolution in the last 20 years. With the advent of digital cameras and every smartphone doubling as a camera, everyone’s a photographer these days, right? Well, not exactly. Taking a picture with your iPhone is one thing. Properly determining composition, lighting, and framing the subject is a completely different animal. Only an experienced professional can provide the necessary details needed in photography to ensure your brand is effectively telling its story. Getting the best professional photographers to capture your value proposition doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either, as visual content marketing platforms have significantly simplified the process and reduced the cost.
It’s true that photographs are the most popular visual asset, but videos are just as popular due to social media platforms and the opportunity to live stream any number of events. Contrary to what many Millennials might believe, live streaming isn’t the only use of video content. As with photography, where certain expertise is necessary to capture the essence of one’s brand, video should also be shot by experts. Looking to create a two-minute advertisement for YouTube? Using a visual content marketing platform can provide all the expertise needed in a timely manner at affordable rates.
Other visual assets, such as illustrations, infographics, memes, and GIFs are very effective when looking to carve out territory in your target audience’s mind. These can be created quickly and affordably by any host of producers using any number of visual content marketing platforms.
The benefits of visual content
Increased brand awareness, engagement, and conversion rates are the payoffs when incorporating visual content into your marketing mix. Research has shown that 65% of us are visual learners. If we want an audience to remember what’s being shared, we must do it visually to increase the chances of retention. When this happens, organizations will see increased brand awareness and retention of the message when compared to other methods.
More traffic to websites and social media accounts is another positive byproduct of leveraging visual content in marketing. Utilizing visually stunning assets across websites, social media platforms, email, and other channels helps cut through the clutter and drive home your organization’s message. By nature, most of us would click on something with an exquisite image when compared to simple text.
When using visual content, marketers can also count on seeing increased engagement and conversion rates. Explainer videos make an indelible impact on visitors and help increase time on site. Also, drawing attention to a landing page and persuading the visitor to complete a form with compelling imagery is a winning strategy as well.
When we choose to show rather than tell, we more effectively draw in audiences and give their brains something to retain. With great visual content as part of your overall marketing mix, you make significant strides in retaining, engaging, and converting their audiences in today’s hypercompetitive environment.
MIT News. In the blink of an eye, MIT neuroscientists find the brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds.
HubSpot. The Power of Visual Communication
The Social Science Research Network. Reaching the Visual Learner: Teaching Property Through Art