• The Power Of a Photo

    The competition for attention is fierce. Merely having something to say doesn’t mean people will notice you. 

    It’s estimated that the average American sees up to 5,000 advertisements every day. Most of these ads are image based, which means we are bombarded with hundreds of photographic messages every hour. 

    You may have the best product in the world with the best story behind it, but that doesn’t mean anyone will give your brand, your story, or your company two seconds of their precious attention. Often, the best you can hope for is a fleeting glance. 

    Honestly, who can blame them? You’re asking for the one thing that matters most to people: time. 

    People scroll through Facebook and Instagram at the speed of light. They vacantly drive past hundreds of billboards every day. They sit idly watching television, hit the mute button and walk to the kitchen during commercial breaks. They’re searching for something impactful, something meaningful to grab their attention. 

    When a buyer experiences your marketing they make a split-second subconscious decision about how much time they want to give you. All too often they turn away. 

    Simply put, no one has the the mental bandwidth for an uninspiring pitch.

    They only stop and look when something stands out. That precious moment is only earned through the power of great photography. 

    Why Custom Photography Matters

    It’s easy to find an image on a stock website that you feel tells the world who you are. Before you do that though, let me caution you: your brand is more than a product or a service. 

    Your brand is your story. 

    There are reasons why people choose one burger shop over another. They buy Nike instead of Adidas. They drive a Chevy instead of a Ford. There’s a reason why people choose you rather than a competitor. 

    You might think it’s price or location or even because you spent the most on marketing and advertising. All of that certainly helps. But in reality, the real reason people choose your brand and find it so appealing is because they feel like they know your company intimately. You’ve become friends. 

    The choice to invest in custom photography is the decision to boldly tell your story in an original and heartwarming way that establishes a deep connection with the viewer. Each image gives you a unique place in the world and in people’s hearts. It is a specific moment in time directly relevant to your brand’s story. The context is purely yours. 

    Stock photos, while beautiful in their own right, are taken in a way that gets used and reused for commercial purposes. As such, the image is applied in ways that lose its original context. It’s a flat representation of your brand. 

    Even worse is when the stock photo you selected to tell your story appears in another company’s marketing… sometimes even your competitors’. 

    Show me something new

    Lest you call us hypocrites, we use stock photos, too. Our blog is full of them. But when it comes to representing who we truly are, what we do, and what our brand means, we break out equipment to shoot something original. 

    That’s because we know that the secret to great marketing is to produce photos that present what we do in a way that is different than what people experience every day. 

    Subscription box services perfectly illustrate this philosophy. To demonstrate their products, they purposely lay out each piece in an orderly fashion on a clean table. These companies know that the lives of average people are not so clean and tidy. The presentation is so appealing you’re driven to say, “I want that!” because who doesn’t want a box of products that could bring some kind of order to your life? 

    Everyday we see flowers, dogs and children from our normal vantage point. We tilt our heads down to look at them. However, when seen from the ground, that same flower, dog, or child suddenly becomes fascinating. We’re not used to seeing them from that angle, and when we do our eyes are opened to discover these commonplace objects in new and unfamiliar ways. The same technique applies when we seeing tall things from above. 

    Almost everything can be shown in a different way to make it interesting. From oilfield services to medical procedures, everything can be presented in a manner that catches the viewer off guard and forces them to take a second look. The images linger. The meaning is processed for days. 

    Applied to marketing, when you use custom photography your brand leaves an indelible mark on the viewer that inspires top of mind awareness and a long lasting impression. Sales are directly correlated to the amount of time the buyer spends on a website. When a photo ignites the imagination of your buyer they move forward to buy. 

    Details matter. 

    The thought and attention to detail that is put into an image finds its way into the emotional center of your customer’s brain. It connects with them in ways that a stock photo cannot. People prefer quality over inferior value, and they’re naturally moved to take action when they see it. 

    The key to quality photography involves lighting a photo in a way that makes it interesting, carefully setting the scene, and posing the subjects in ways that both follow and break the rules of composition in order to create compelling visual interest. These little details matter. When applied to your brand, it tells a story that is unique to you.

    When a photo is well lit, when it’s clear, when it’s obviously not just a selfie, people automatically assign a higher value to what that photo represents. 

    What is your brand worth? What is the service you provide worth? What are you worth? Honestly, you are worth great photography.

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    Need to a marketing team to help you “stop the scroll”? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • 6 Effective Tips for Visual Storytelling with Video

    Capturing the attention of your audience in the midst of today’s digital clutter is a challenging feat to beat. While video marketing is a strong medium to help increase exposure, there’s no better way to stand out than with visual storytelling.

    So what’s the difference?

    Visual storytelling is more than leveraging video and sound. Storytelling involves the bigger picture of what you’re trying to achieve by captivating emotion and bringing your product to life. It is more than just selling with video. It involves delivering an impactful emotional experience that resonates with the viewer long after the video has been watched.

    Here are 6 tips to help your visual storytelling make your business irresistible:

    Create a Structured Timeline

    As an elementary refresher, every story has a beginning, middle, and end. This same rule should apply to the structure of your video. Without an organized timeline, videos will feel incomplete, fruitless, and even confusing.

    The beginning of your story should introduce characters and set the scene by establishing scenarios and hint at the main idea. The middle of the video should include the action being taken to solve a certain problem, while events simultaneously build off one another. Revealing the outcome and unmasking a solution is the best way to conclude your video storytelling.

    While that sounds like a task for a motion picture screen writer, it’s not. Approach every storytelling project the same way you’d write a paper. Start by documenting the goal of the video, who it should speak to, and what the action should be. Continue with an outline that defines the individual steps (or scenes) in the video and define how the video should perform during each part of the composition. From there you can build out the entire piece.

    Lighting and Backdrops Matter

    There’s nothing worse than watching a low-quality video with distracting backgrounds. All too often, people attempt to use their mobile devices to create a video without controlling the lighting or surrounding scene. The result is an inferior video piece that fails to capture the full attention of the viewer.

    If your story takes place outdoors, be sure the weather conditions are ideal; if there are high winds, dark clouds, or rain, it’s best to reschedule. If you’re shooting indoors, consider investing in lighting equipment and use the three point lighting technique. Good lighting can take your video from looking amateurish to looking clean and professional.

    Also think about your backdrop before diving in. Backdrops can make or break a video, so be sure they’re not distracting or too busy. For example, if you’re interviewing someone, it’s safest to stick to a solid background with muted colors such as gray or dark blue. Don’t attempt to conduct an interview on a busy street unless you have the right sound and lighting to keep the focus on your subject.

    Strategically picking your background can save you a ton of time and make all the difference in the quality of your video.

    Simplicity is Best

    While shooting elaborate scenes with intricate dialogue may sound ideal, communicating a singular idea with a straightforward approach can often be more effective.

    Beautiful footage isn’t essential in video storytelling, especially for beginners. Focus on the product and people in your video rather than capturing irrelevant scenes. This can cause too much “noise” and distract viewers from your the problem you’re trying to solve.

    Additionally, don’t fill your entire video with dialogue. Sometimes fewer words have greater power. Try selecting the most meaningful and influential sound bites that efficiently deliver your message. Clean shots, good audio and powerful music can help tell the rest of the story.

    Be Human and Evoke Emotion

    One of the most crucial – and perhaps the most difficult – elements to visual storytelling is inducing emotion to assist in how to portray a powerful message

    Drawing out feelings of empathy will elicit feelings of trust and loyalty to your brand, so before shooting, ask yourself the following questions:

    • How does your message and brand impacts real lives?
    • What emotions are the customers faces with before being introduced to your product?
    • What emotions do you want them to feel when they find the solution?
    • How do you alter your customer’s skepticism and turn it into hopefulness and joy?

    These questions will establish a baseline to your story’s itinerary and keep viewers engaged and invested. Portraying a powerful message through emotion is essential. It makes a lasting impression, as opposed to simply conveying a marketing message.

    Become a Master Editor

    One of the best ways to enhance your video lies in the editing process. Be sure your cuts are clean and distinct. Don’t get too fancy with transitions. Focusing on lavish transitions may detract from the valuable points you are trying to get across. Additionally, try and pick music that matches the tone of the rest of the story to bring your product to vivid life.

    Determining the length of your video is also imperative. Based off over 564,000 video, Wistia determined the ideal length to be 2 minutes. They also found that engagement is steady up to 2 minutes, meaning a 90-second video will hold a someone’s attention as much as a 30-second one. Naturally, you have to consider where this video will be viewed. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook require shorter video lengths.

    Include a Call To Action

    Like other marketing assets, you’ll want to end your video by prompting your viewer to take action. If they’ve watched your video to the end, they’ve already demonstrated a clear interest. Providing a call to action – or CTA – will drive viewers to take an action. Ideally you’d drive the viewer to a designated landing page where they will provide their contact information, thereby turning them into a lead.

    Other CTA ideas can include inviting viewers to your social media pages, entering contests, free trials, webinars, short forms, or another video. Whatever the end goal is, this is your chance to gather further interest and transition them from a viewer to a customer.

    The exception here would be with a branding piece that revolves around a mood, an inspirational message, or personal story. In that case, your visual story is less about selling or promoting your product, but instead focuses on the value of your brand. The call to action is not overt. Instead, you’re hoping the viewer will have a visceral emotional response to your video that will then be positively associated with your brand. It’s less of a “call to action” and more of “call to emotion”.

    Need help with your video storytelling or other social media management? Contact us today to get started on all your social media needs.

     

  • 3 Steps to Good B2B Gated Content

    Technical B2B companies can use gated content to capture leads on their websites. Whether it’s a white paper, survey report or another technical document, follow our three tips below to ensure that you’re consistently adding fuel to your sales engine:

    Select the right topic

    Choosing the right information to share is the most important step in the gated content process. Take time to catalog the questions that clients repeatedly ask you, or listen to your sales team about what concerns they hear most from customers. Do keyword research with Google Search or SEMrush to determine what kind of answers people are seeking. You can also review your website with Google Analytics to see which pages are most popular. Once you’ve decided on a topic, think about what related details you want to share. A good way to do this is by running through a customer use case and creating a list of questions that customers might ask.

    For example, let’s say your traffic engineering firm is consistently asked what should be considered when designing a new master-planned community development. You could compile all of the most popular questions and create a white paper using these FAQs. Some of the questions might include:

    • How much traffic will my development generate?
    • When do I need to add a second lane?
    • When is a roundabout a good idea?
    • How much parking will I need?

    Make it truly useful

    To capture the attention of B2B leaders, you’ll need to produce some high-quality content. These folks are busy with tons of material to read already. What will inspire them to offer their contact information to read your content? It has to be useful and provide some sort of meaningful value. Think about providing more than just surface level information and dig deep to share some nuggets of information that will save them time or solve a persistent headache at their company. You might do this by sharing results from a survey you conducted or by including facts from a research paper.  In our example above, the traffic engineering company could share actual statistics that will help the developer in planning.

    • How much traffic will my development generate?
      • Single Family Houses (per unit): 10 trips per day, 1 per peak hour

      • Apartments/Condos/Townhouses (per unit): 7 trips per day, 0.7 per peak hour

      • Office (per 1000 sq ft): 10 trips per day, 1.5 per peak hour

      • Retail (per 1000 sq ft): 38 trips per day, 4.2 per peak hour

      • Industrial (per 1000 sq ft): 5 trips per day, 0.9 per peak hour

         

    • When do I need to add a second lane?
      • When you have 300 left turning vehicles from that leg of the intersection in the peak hour

    As you can see, these are stats that would be helpful for the developers to know when planning their development. They’re also not facts that are commonplace or would be easily found with a Google search.

    Avoid pitching your product or service, especially as a one-size-fits-all solution

    There’s no better way to lose a B2B reader’s interest than by filling a document with promo pitches. Remember, your gated content is supposed to be useful for the reader and help them solve a problem. They’re reading to find answers, not another way to spend their money. A good way to avoid doing this is by sharing unbiased data and by readily admitting that your product, or service, is not the right fit for everyone.

    Our example traffic engineering company might include the following question and answer:

    • Do I need to do a traffic study for my development?
    • The answer depends! If your development is stirring up conflict with the surrounding neighborhood, a traffic study could be helpful in soothing their concerns for increased congestion. A traffic study will most likely be required when the development goes through an environmental review process. However, if your development is under a certain threshold for traffic (depends on the city), then you might not need a traffic study. If you decide to do a traffic study, we recommend you work with a traffic engineer who is familiar with the Institute of Transportation Engineering’s Transportation Impact Analyses for Site Development.

    The above answer adds credibility to the white paper because it doesn’t promote the firm as the sole – or best – provider of traffic studies. It provides information to help the reader decide and then a tip to ensure that they hire the right people.

    Good Gated Content Isn’t Easy

    In a time when a Google search will yield tons of results, making your content stand out requires a process to ensure that people will read it. Start by carefully choosing a topic, then filling your document with information that is really useful, and then make your document credible by avoiding a salesy tone. Cutting through the noise to reach B2B leaders isn’t impossible, it just requires effort.