Everybody is trying to produce content, get noticed and drive sales. Facebook is getting busier, Pinterest is chock full of stunning, fascinating and well-groomed pics, Instagram is getting clever with carefully designed images straight from your smart phone and even YouTube may start to struggle as other social media channels take on the challenge of hosted video this year.
Gone are the days that we could post up a simple text post and expect people to interact and share. In today’s online world everything is visual and instant. Your customers will make that split second decision based on how something looks without clicking through to read through content. You’ve got to grab their attention on the hop.
We notice, react and act on visuals far more than text – check out this infographic from the Optimal Targeting Blog
As coaches, trainers and relationship builders we can really benefit from the strange and wonderful power of visual content – colours, fonts, pictures and graphics. We can pull people in that wouldn’t normally give us a second glance. We can show exactly what our gorgeous coaching brand is all about in one swift glance.
Here are 10 ways that you should be using visual content in your coaching biz to attract attention and boost your sales.
1. Keep up to date
Today’s internet is constantly updated. Information that is over a day old is considered old news. Scary, but you can use it to your advantage.
Keep yourself relevant to what is happening around you. Share visual content from recent events, hop on that image bandwagon (how many Disney’s Frozen videos did we see and sit through?) and make your audience look at recent content with fresh eyes.
2. Is it authentic?
Throw out those stock photos of ‘business woman smiling in the office’ or ‘pretty girl flirting with the camera’ and, in fact, even the nicely placed objects on the desk shots are getting used here there and everywhere. We’ve all seen them and they can damage your coaching brand.
People respond much better to authentic pictures of real people. You could start taking photos of the way you work, where you work, what influences you and what your life looks like.
Images of and from your clients are even more powerful. Accompany those great testimonials with a good honest picture of your client or get them to share photos of their own experiences after working with you. This is how conversations start and how trust is built.
3. No plonking
Don’t plonk an image in, just because you think it needs some beautifying. Often, the image is more of an attention point than the text at first glance so it needs to do its job.
Choose relevant and engaging images that accompany text or even stand alone. A great example of this is the memes you see posted all over social media. The picture is just as important as the words and the more poignant your image, the more people are likely to share it.
4. Show the benefits
Don’t tell it, show it.
If you are a life coach, show the results of working with you – feet up, relaxing reading, enjoying playing with the kids. If you teach crafts, show the finished article or the process and fun in making – show people having fun creating. If you are a health coach, show the physical results – running, stretching, laughing and enjoying life. If you are a business coach, show the wonderful results of a well run business – a life of freedom and enjoyment.
These images don’t have to be professionally taken. Keep them authentic and you will show prospective clients the benefits that could be theirs.Great quality images
5. Use an app
Try out some of the many smart phone apps out there. Since the rise of the likes of Instagram and ? it is now possible to snap away, edit and add all sorts of different effects to our images. Have a play! Also, have a look at my blog – 5 top photos you can take with your mobile phone
Check out phone apps like Snapseed or VSCO Cam
Once taken you can then edit in Picmonkey or Canva for free! No excuses.
I belong to a gym, but I’m afraid I’m the sort of gym bunny that is happier sitting in the bar or sauna (if I can be bothered) than working up a sweat on the various torture machines downstairs. Never mind, I find the atmosphere is good for getting work done and coming up with creative ideas for my next class, post or visual for my clients.
Maybe it’s the energy in the air?
So I like going to the gym. I like the people, the food, the coffee and the (cough) cakes.
But I’ve never been to one of their special events. They advertise special days with children’s entertainment, special food at a special price, egg hunts, santa visits and mini discos, perfect for my two little wrigglers.
So this Friday I was in the changing rooms after a particularly strenuous Sauna and noticed a poster pinned to the inside of my locker for a special Easter meal and egg hunt for the children. My first thought was that it looked like it was for old people. Now, bearing in mind that the gym mostly caters for families and grannies are unlikely to be attracted by an Easter egg hunt, this struck me as a rather ridiculous reaction.
The A4 poster was pretty unassuming, a list of courses under a title with some spring-like pictures around the edge. It had even been laminated. But the mixed bag of spring pics were just plonked around the outside as last minute decorations to show that it was an Easter offer.
“to plonk (v): to take one or more stock photos and insert them directly into marketing materials with no changes and no other intention than to decorate it”
Instead of adding to the message of the poster, they made it look old fashioned, cheap and a little thrown together and detracted from the main point of the poster – to attract the many families that use the gym every day to a well-run event that makes Easter day special.
It doesn’t take much to avoid these mismatched marketing messages and move away from the plonking technique. Here are some simple ways to stop you being a plonker:
Think about the most important message you need to convey and stick to it. If a picture doesn’t help you to convey this message, then don’t put it on,
Write your words first. Most of the time, less is more. Consider leaving more space around your carefully crafted words so they speak for themselves.
If you need some visuals after this, pick one that emphasises the most important message you need to convey. Make it big and bold, use only part of the image and give it lots of space to create more impact.
Van Gogh had many problems but social media copyright wasn’t one of them.
Ooh, the internet is a colourful place. Brightly coloured gems, products pics, beautiful photography, funny illustrations, videos, infographics, silly memes – everywhere we look, images rule! How many times have I got lost in Pinterest as I’ve skipped from one tantalising image to another beautifully presented product. I want, I want, I want!!! (calm down Katherine)
Of course, we want our businesses to stand out amongst all this wealth of visual content and take advantage of our natural urge to love pictures. And with all these images surrounding us, it is very easy to pluck something beautiful from the ether and reuse it for ourselves. Copy, paste, save and reuse. It takes seconds.
But everything we see on the internet has been created by somebody. Some of it has been given freely for anybody to use, but some of it (most of it) has not. Some of it represents years of practice for the artist or the photographer, some of it was commissioned for a specific purpose for editorial or product placement and some of it was just for fun but still has a value for its creator.
It can seem like a minefield. All we want as business owners is to tap into the power of images to strengthen our brand / get more sales / make a really helpful and insightful point to our customers / or entertain. We don’t mean to steal and undervalue the hard work of the artist, it’s just hard to remember that everything belongs to somebody when copy/paste is SO easy to use.
Unfortunately the ‘I didn’t know’ argument isn’t going to work when the creator comes knocking at your door with a nasty lawyers letter for copyright theft. Best avoided!
But how will they know?
They have the technology. Some images are fingerprinted so it can be tracked and identified if it doesn’t have a license. Even if you have only used a part of it. Even if it has been changed, cropped, coloured and used as part of another image.
But (yes, there is good news) there are LOADS of great images out there for FREE, for you and me to use without worrying that they belong to somebody else. And loads of great images to use FOR FREE that only require a quick thank you and signature from the original creator to boost both of your businesses. Let’s share the love!
I’ve put together an easy list of how to pick fantastic images for your business for free and use them with no worries about getting sued somewhere down the line…
People love to share and show off their photographic skills online and just because these images weren’t taken by a professional, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some gems out there.
Websites like Flickr (my fav) and Tumblr allow users to upload their photos and specify how it can be shared on the web, through a creative commons licence. Some choose non-commercial, some with attribution and a link, some with no derivatives (no fiddling with the image).
You can easily search by the right creative commons license (free to use commercially) through search websites like www.photopin.com. Just make sure you attribute the original creator every time you use the image and you are good to go. Yay!
Buy royalty free stock photos
There are loads of very good value royalty free stock websites out there, www.123rf.com, www.istockphoto.com , www.dreamstime.com that will charge you anything between £1 to £25 an image. If you find the perfect pic, it’s worth it. That picture could be the difference between somebody pressing the BUY button or not. Royalty free pictures are basically yours to use as many times as you want for whatever you want (make sure to check the license when you buy though!).
Take your own pictures
Just take your mobile and click away. A picture of your coffee cup might be just right for a FB post. Social media particularly is all about building relationships so home-grown pics will be more personal and speak directly to your audience. Share yourself and magical things may just happen.
Did you find this helpful? This month the Be Your Business Beautician Club is all about picking and using the right images in your branding to get more sales and boost your biz. Find out more here >>>
If you run an online business, even over here in the UK, your competition is getting ready to launch their Christmas campaign with gusto.
For the US and Canada, the first Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season. Most retailers offer special promotions and major discounts on this one day and even open the stores as early as 4am! It all creates a sense of urgency (as well as queues around the block and traffic jams). But it doesn’t end there, Black Friday is soon followed by Cyber Monday (invented as an attempt to boost sales after the Black Friday mayhem).
What better way to start your Christmas sales than an eyecatching Black Friday / Cyber Monday offer? Whatever the excuse, now is the time to get going with your Christmas sales. And what better way to say thank you than to send your subscribers or best customers a personalised offer. Do some clever Facebook marketing and target your list only with a discounted offer or send out an email postcard, or even pop one in the post, to your best customers. Or go all out and transform your website into a flash sale and encourage visitors to sign up to get your special offer.
Here are some sparkling design ideas to get your Christmas offer to stand out and tempt people in.
Make them feel special
Pay special attention to the look of your gift, whether online or a card through the post. Find a Christmas look that suits your brand and will appeal to that special customer.
Give them a warm fuzzy feeling
Whether your brand is soft and cuddly, elegant and classic, or crafty and organic, you have something unique that your customers love. Think how your ideal customer will feel after buying your product or service, or how they will feel about getting it on offer. Will they be excited, relieved, relaxed, happy, more glamorous, pampered? Take that feeling and illustrate it with one strong image – the bigger the better.
Don’t confuse them
Make your special offer big and bold. Short and concise wins here. You are selling to people who have already bought into your brand, so just tempt them with the one special offer. The image will communicate what they will get if they buy so don’t clutter your sales message up with lots of extra information. You can always point them back to your website or store for more details anyway.
Make it a hero
Your special offer may include many different products or services but your sales piece needs to focus on one. Choose a best-selling product that you’ve got great feedback about or a brand new product or bundle launched especially for them. For physical products, choose just one good picture. For virtual products or services, give your offer a tempting name and let the discount sell for you.
One call to action
Include ONE main call to action, whether a link to your sales page, a link to download your offer code or a phone number to book. Make big and bold and as easy as possible to take action.
This weekend I gave in and decided that enough was enough and I had to tidy my six year old daughter’s room.
Nobody is particularly tidy in our house, but there are limits and we could no longer see the floor in her bedroom. After a morning of winging and moaning and ‘I’m bored’ I got out my Mary Poppins apron and spit spot we all set out to tidy up the nursery (bear pit).
Of course, after five minutes both my son and daughter found toys they hadn’t seen for ages hidden in the murky depths of her bedroom and started a game together. I quietly got on with sneaking out broken bits of tatty plastic and clothes that were too small into the black bag hidden in my room listening to the sounds of happy children playing nicely together.
And in true Mary Poppins style the more floor we exposed and the more care we took over getting her toys sorted out, redressed in the right outfits, hanging up the princess dresses and putting the doll’s house furniture back the more involved she became in getting it all looking lovely. We even started to make some pictures to hang on the doll’s house walls.
What started off in boredom turned into play. Once they could see their toys they could focus and create a game. I left the two of them playing house and went and sat down with a cuppa – bliss (and rare!)
It’s just the same when you are trying to get your message across in your marketing. Whether you are selling a product, an idea or a service you need to get rid of the clutter, otherwise your message can easily get lost or forgotten.
Really good design will centre itself around ONE core message. Whether it is an ad, web page, flyer or meme, the more focus you place on the message, the easier it is to communicate and get your customers to take action.
Here are a eight top design tips to help you to think about reducing your marketing messaging down to the basic elements and get your core message shining at the centre of your designs.
This will work across all your marketing and make your visuals and copy start to sell for you.
1. What is the core message you want to communicate in this design?
eg: 50% off all October treatments, live an environmentally friendly life with this new product, create a beautiful home using old clothes, boost your biz in 30 days to live the life you dream of, lose weight for good and be happy, make money through Facebook
2. Write down everything you think you need to say
You’ll probably find you have lists of information about your product, lists of benefits your customers will get and lots of info about why they should buy from you.
3. Look again at your core message and cross off everything that doesn’t communicate that ONE thing
This is the hard part. Condensing everything we know and love about our offer to the bare minimum can be very scary. What if they don’t understand my product? What if it’s not persuasive enough? Don’t they need to know about everything I offer? Don’t they need to know my background so they can trust me?
But the more information you put on your marketing material the less focused it will be and, just like my daughter, your customer will lose interest and not engage, let alone buy.
For a one sided flyer you need no more than a punchy headline, a strong picture, 4 or 5 bullet points, your branding and a call to action.
For a Facebook ad you need should rely on the image to communicate your core message with a punchy headline, your branding and a call to action.
For a display banner, you may have more room but don’t be tempted to fill the space with words. Stick to one large image, a headline, 4/5 bullets points, your branding and a call to action.
4. Pick a strong image that sums up your core message
Show the benefits and show the results of your product or service. It’s true that pictures speak louder than words and this is a key part of getting your core message across – instantly.
This image will be the centre of your ad / web page / flyer so pick one that doesn’t have a lot of clutter or a busy background.
5. Focus in on the image
You don’t have to use the image just as you found it. If just a part of the image says more about your core message, zoom in and crop it down.
6. Choose your fonts wisely
Keep to only two fonts. You can use a more characterful font for your headline but make sure it is easy to read!
7. No rainbows please
Stick to 2 or 3 strong colours. Just using too many colours, bolds, italics, underlines or font sizes can make a design look very cluttered.
8. Give your core message room to breathe
Now that you’ve cut your copy down to the minimum you can make sure to leave lots and lots of room around it. Increase the space between lines, especially for smaller text. Leave lots of space around your headline. And make sure that the image, your logo, your headline and your text are very easy to read.