Guest Post by Kayleigh Alexandra
We all know a compelling written portfolio, coupled with beautiful, emotive imagery, can sell pretty much anything to the right person. But while it often seems B2C companies have their visual strategy down, the same is less true of B2B. We’re aware that powerful visual content captures the imagination and gives context, yet all too often, the same, dreary stock photos rear their repulsive heads. Quality marketing photos are more important than ever before – whatever sector you’re in – so how can B2B brands do better?
First – some facts and figures
Need some convincing? The following information is taken from Hubspot’s visual content marketing statistics – and it worth remembering next time you’re putting content together.
- When people hear information, they’ll remember 10% of that information three days later. If a relevant image is paired with that information, they’ll remember 65%.
- B2C marketers put greater importance on visual content than B2B marketers – but B2B marketers are starting to catch up. 51% of B2B marketers prioritized visual content assets in 2016.
- Infographics are on the rise in B2B content marketing, up from 50% to 58% over the course of one year.
- Eye-tracking studies show readers pay closer attention to information-carrying images and spend more time looking at them than they do reading text.
Fancy vs. simple
Let’s talk about about graphics – a form of visual content that it’s easy to get carried away with. Fancy graphics can be exciting, and who doesn’t love a conveniently placed GIF?
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The thing is, the most effective visuals are often the simplest. Your clients are busy and time-poor; they need you to get to the point quickly. You want the images to grab their attention, add context, and make your content more memorable. But at the same time, they shouldn’t detract from the message entirely – and it shouldn’t be hard work to look at them.
If faced with the choice, simple graphics are a safer bet.
If an image on your B2B website isn’t evoking an emotional response, what is it doing there? Being B2B doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express authentic moments. Who doesn’t love a little raw humanity?
Of course, finding authentic and humanizing imagery can be a challenge. The first option, of course, is to hire a professional photographer who can work with your content calendar and brand messaging. B2B businesses have a habit of overusing the same stock images – the futuristic interface, lightbulbs scrawled in chalk, the multi-ethnic handshake. We’ve seen it all before. At this stage, these are just meaningless metaphors.
If you are limited to stock imagery, know that not all stock image websites are born equal. For example, these business shots from Burst and the hilariously named Death to the Stock Photo offer more natural, candid images that will help bring out the human side of your business, without looking ‘stock’. It’s worthwhile signing up for Death to the Stock Photo’s mailing list, as they send out exclusive pics on a regular basis.
Let’s talk about Instagram
When it comes to sharing beautiful, mesmerizing images, Instagram is the ultimate social platform. It’s also currently the fastest-growing. Instagram is the ideal place for B2B brands to show off their creativity and engage their audiences. Use it to showcase your products, make announcements, demonstrate team spirit, make a statement about your brand – even give product demonstrations.
For Instagram, you absolutely can’t get away with using stock photos. You need authentic, real-time content that offers an honest glimpse into your company’s culture and product offerings. Additionally, as with all social channels, it’s not just about posting content, it’s about partaking in the wider community. Take some time to look at other Instagram profiles, like some content, and leave comments.
An important focus for 2018 is diversity and representation in marketing. Again, B2B companies are lagging behind their B2C brothers and sisters in this area. Messaging and image choices used across campaigns play a huge role in showing your audience – whatever their background – that they matter.
The problem sometimes stems from the fact that a lot of marketers, writers, and designers haven’t been trained to think about these issues when writing or selecting imagery. But keep this in mind: if the company photos and stock images across your website, print materials and online channels don’t include any diversity in race, age, gender, or family structure – you need to do better.
B2B marketers can’t ignore the fact visual content is considerably more compelling than written communication alone. Imagery provides an incredible opportunity to promote your company’s culture and values, as well as showcase upcoming events. The key is to keep it simple, keep it authentic, keep it diverse, and make sure it relates to the written content it’s paired with.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow them on Twitter @getmicrostarted.