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The Marketing Unleashed Podcast – What is visual storytelling marketing and what makes it effective?

Joel: Hello Everyone and Welcome to another episode of the Marketing Unleashed Podcast. So, today we are discussing Visual Storytelling Marketing. And we’re gonna break it down into two parts. The first being ‘what it is’ and the Second explaining ‘What makes it effective?’ And with me is Jamie and Rachel. Jamie, lets start with you. What is Visual Storytelling Marketing to you?

Jamie: It is, Really just telling your story with a lot of pictures to effectively engage the viewer. I mean if you just use a lot of copy that’s boring. And we all know that our attention spans are really really short. I mean look at Facebook, look at Instagram, look at Pinterest, that is all using visuals. And that is what the audience nowadays really likes. And that is what captures our attention I mean, a picture, an engaging picture is what really can sell anything really quickly. Especially when you are telling your whatever story you need to tell if you do it right and you get some pictures in there along with a meaningful story that is going to do it.

Joel: So Rachel, I mean – sorry that was my watch – Tell us about some ways that you would kind of match the story and the visuals together.

Rachel: Well I think your visual, obviously has to do with what you’re talking about. I mean it could be as simple as putting a picture with your Facebook post for the day. Something that relates to your post, or –

Jamie: Yeah it has to relate.

Rachel: Yeah, or making like – [crosstalk 00:01:54]

Jamie: Can’t be too abstract.

Rachel: Or making like an infographic to talk about a process or something. Something that makes the information easier to digest for people.

Joel: Yeah, and I think you hit the nail on the head there. It’s about making things, making the concept or the message easier to digest. So, now do you think it allows brands to better – not just communicate, but better connect with their customers?

Jamie: Oh yeah I mean that’s the main point.

Rachel: Especially with Instagram, or Facebook now, or any social media out there. Say it’s like a shoe company, they show the shoe on someone out there having fun and people are like ‘Oh I want that. I connect to that’

Jamie: Especially when you get them on an emotional level. I mean that’s always good.

Joel: Yeah I mean, I think really whenever you have an image that is tied to your messaging it allows people to and this is kind of going into the psychology and that gets confusing. But Psychology is a part of marketing, it is a big part. It allows them to capture that almost like, people have photographic memories, It almost gives them that feeling. That intrinsic feeling. So I think that’s why visual storytelling is very important whenever you’re dealing with your market.

Jamie: Especially with fashion brands. Like she was saying, shoes, when you see somebody with that shoe on you’re like ‘Oh yeah,[crosstalk 00:03:25]

Rachel: ‘I gotta have that’ it influences people to go for it, and like you said they remember the images. They’re not going to remember a like word description of the shoe. Or whatever you’re trying to do.

Jamie: You remember 65% of what you see and only 10% of what you read.

Joel: Yeah, with me probably about 5% what I read. I have a hard time retaining what I read.

Jamie: Most people are visual learners. So you are going to connect instantly what you see vs. What you read. I mean we’re skimmers now, look how fast we scroll through websites, through Instagram, through Facebook. I mean, even with Twitter, I think I read anything with a picture with a tweet gets retweeted 150 times more than if it doesn’t have a picture.

Joel: Yeah 150% yeah, yeah I read the exact same thing. Okay, so if brands aren’t out there advertising on TV lets say that they’re doing a radio or audio advertisement what can they do visually?

Jamie: What do you mean? If they’re not?

Joel: Well I think I guess the better –

Jamie: If they’re not advertising?

Joel: No, no, I’m saying if they are advertising on radio or podcasts or whatever it may be, but it’s through audio only. If they’re not on TV or in print. They’re not –

Jamie: So how do you tell a story?

Joel: Right, Visually. I mean you’d have to drive them back to a website? Or something right?

Rachel: Would they have an ad on a website? That goes along with the commercial?

Joel: It’s possible yeah.

Jamie: I think it really goes back to doing a good ad. A good ad, can really tell a story with a good photograph. It’s kind of like a great painting. You can tell there’s a story. And that’s what you have to do with a good ad. It can’t just be a simple product photo with nothing going on. You have to tell a story with the headline, there has to be something going on.

Rachel: connect people.

Joel: I’d also say in the imagery you have to show the benefit.

Jamie: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel: You brought up shoes, if you have an ad with shoes and I don’t know somebody looks scruffy, or looks un-put together but they have nice shoes on is that going to sell?

Jamie: Probably not. But you’re wondering what’s the story behind that. Why are they sitting there looking all scruffy but they have great shoes?

Rachel: But I guess that would kind of capture your attention though.

Jamie: Right, You know, it all goes back – you have to tell a story with a great ad.

Joel: Yeah, well it’s like they always say in business: you can really tell who somebody really is if you look at their shoes.

Rachel: Right.

Joel: It’s like well, I’m wearing Nike. So – What do you want me –

Rachel: ‘He must go running after work.’

Joel: Trust me, I don’t. Good thing we’re pretty casual environment around here. So we talked about, Twitter having images, 150% more retweets. Where else should images or your visual storytelling go?

Jamie: Email marketing is a great place – I know we all get tons of those a day. And I know fashion brands are a great example. They do a great job of telling a story. I mean, Sephora, Old Navy, Bath and Body, ASOS, I mean all of those brands do a great job of sending out great emails. With tons of visuals and they’re really long, you can just scroll forever. And they’ve got tons of pictures and they’re telling a great story showcasing the products, showcasing a theme, so that’s a good example. Of course like we said, Instagram, Commercials.

Rachel: And now there is the stories on Instagram and Facebook, and companies make short videos for both of those.

Jamie: Yeah so it’s not just on the web, it’s using videos and things like that.

Joel: What about environment? When you go into a store? The environment – I mean does that not also come into the storytelling?

Jamie: That’s a good question I didn’t think of that.

Joel: I mean whenever you walk into a – I don’t know Sephora is a store right?

Jamie: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel: Sorry I don’t know – I think it is a store. But whenever you walk in are things not laid out where they want you to go? I mean that’s kind of storytelling, right? I probably should have picked a store I know more about.

Rachel: I was thinking like the grocery store. When you said a store.

Joel: Grocery store, right? Everyone’s been to a grocery store. I don’t know why I went to that one.

Jamie: Yeah because we just had Mother’s Day and right when you go in the store at least for my grocery store, right when you go in recently it was all Mother’s Day stuff. They had the flowers right there, they had this whole cupcake stand going on. So, they wanted you to come in and it was make your own cupcake dozen. And you just go in and she had all these cupcakes going on and you just picked which flavors you wanted and then all the bakery stuff was right there. All the seasonal stuff is right when you walk in. So they are forcing you to you know.

Rachel: You walked in and you didn’t even know you wanted that stuff and you left with a whole box of cupcakes.

Jamie: I left with a dozen cupcakes.

Joel: And grocery stores are laid out to tell the story of how you should be shopping in a way. And that’s why they always put the milk and the dairy in the back of the store. Or like at the end, I mean most grocery stores kind of follow a horseshoe type of layout. There is obviously aisles in the middle but the main stuff is in a horseshoe.

Jamie: Yeah and I think all retail stores kind of do that. That might be a different type of thing, but I don’t know I didn’t think about it like that. That could be if you think about it, it is kind of this is the story that we want to tell you.

Joel: Yeah well I mean, I think having fruits and vegetables as usually one of the first things that you see when you go into the grocery store. That’s saying we provide fresh colorful ingredients. [crosstalk 00:09:57]

Jamie: It is, it’s always up front. ‘Cause that’s always the sign of quality for me. Look at all the different varieties of produce that they have!
Rachel: It’s vibrant and fresh[crosstalk 00:10:11] and you should want this!

Jamie: Look how colorful it is! That’s a sign of a good grocery store right there. Oh and the cheese section. If they have a lot of fancy cheeses, that’s how I know.

Rachel: And that’s usually right after the produce.

Joel: Right so I think that what we’re getting at here is that the products themselves also tell a story. So, All right now Rachel you are a product maker on Etsy – you have your own website. So how do you try to create visuals to tell your story.

Rachel: Like on my website?

Joel: Uh-huh.

Rachel: Well I just recently went back and tried to make more consistent images so that it made it look more like a brand and not just a scattered mess. Which is what it kind of used to be. So now everything kind of looks similar.

Jamie: Unified?

Rachel: Yeah. So it’s more –

Joel: Well ’cause that is important everything has to look – I mean whenever you see an ad or anything from a retailer or any type of brand. It should all – you should be able to recognize that it has the same vibe. The same feel.

Jamie: Yeah so that goes back to your branding. So you’re trying to create your brand.

Rachel: Right ’cause if you look up like any brand on Instagram all their pictures usually look the same. They might have the same kind of lighting. And the same kind of look and feel. So that, you know that’s like a solid brand. Something you can trust.

Joel: Okay, now do you try to tell a story with your product images. If you post something on Etsy do you kind of create like a fun story behind it?

Rachel: I do for some. I might lay out a shirt with some pants and shoes, Create a kind of outfit looks to give people an idea. Or imagine themselves like “Oh, I have that and I need the shirt to go with it.”

Jamie: All right so putting it in it’s environment?

Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jamie: Yeah that’s a good idea.

Joel: Well it’s creating the solution for them. It’s painting the whole picture. Anybody can look at a shirt and be like “Oh yeah that’s good” but maybe, this particular shirt looks better with jeans over khakis or whatever it might be. All right, what are some bad characteristics of visual storytelling?
Jamie: Well that’s simple, I mean; It doesn’t have a picture.

Joel: Well ha-ha yeah that would definitely be it. I think we touched on this but I would definitely say the big one is: irrelevant.

Rachel: I think like the memes that people are doing all the time now, I think those can kind of go wrong. I mean –

Jamie: I think that’s another example of what people are using though like gifs and memes. And I think people are throwing those in – but you’re right they have to be used correctly.

Rachel: ‘Cause if they’re like inside jokes a lot of people won’t get it. I mean they can be really funny if you understand it but if you don’t.

Jamie: So like you’re saying if they’re irrelevant then you’re missing the mark.

Joel: Well, I think, the biggest culprit would be like blogs and people who just post random stuff – not random but like articles on social media, you know, it’ll be talking about oh here are some shoes that we want you to feature, and it’ll have like a man or a woman on a smart phone. Just a generic stock photo.

Jamie: Right you know what I think using generic stock photography. I hate that.

Joel: Right.

Jamie: I hate that.

Rachel: It’s not authentic. And you can tell it’s like – I mean I don’t think I would trust a brand that’s just always using –

Jamie: Its like when you can really really tell it’s a generic stock photo and it doesn’t relate to the context of the story

Rachel: whenever I see a stock photo that I’ve used on something I know right away ’cause I’ve seen it multiple times like ‘I’ve used that before’.

Jamie: We are so good at picking up those stock photos. Like yeah, I’ve seen that. I’ve seen that. Big time.

Joel: Now I mean not to say stock photo is all bad, but you have to really do your research and know the image that you’re trying to portray.

Jamie: It has to relate. Can’t be irrelevant.

Joel: Now, What about if, I mean what if all the images are self centered. Sorry I keep going back to shoes, but it’s just an image of the shoes. Like ‘Oh, hey look how great these shoes are.’

Jamie: Right, show some context. Relate to, everything has to go back to the consumer.

Joel: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jamie: It has to focus on the consumer. It has to make ME want to buy it. I have to feel an emotional connection.

Joel: Well in marketing I mean it’s problem solution. So I think whenever you don’t like – like Rachel she’ll create an outfit. With her images of whatever she’s selling. I mean you don’t sell pants, well maybe you do.

Rachel: No. Ha-ha.

Joel: But you probably don’t sell like plain generic pants, though right. Everything has a graphic or something on it. So but you pair the graphic tee or whatever it may be, or a pillow maybe you throw it on a couch, to show context

Jamie: Another good example would be, you know a lot of people like those before -Authenticity. Like the before and after photo’s. Kind of like when people are doing like a fitness challenge they like to show the before and after. Or, stray rescue. I am a sucker for animal rescues. The Dodo does a really good job of those too. But like showing that story of rescuing the animal and then seeing the before and after, like, ‘Look at them now’.

Joel: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jamie: That tugs at your heart strings and they do a great job – and they put their stories on Instagram and Facebook and they do a great job of that too. So those are some more good examples. Like the Before and After. Showing that they’re genuine that they’re helping that they have a cause, things like that.

Joel: See, I actually like to watch, not the animal stuff but with the weight loss stuff how they actually backwards engineer how they get those photos. Like the person’s always thin actually and what they do is they just make them look sloppy.

Jamie: Where they’re hunched over

Rachel: And they have their pants pushed down lower or higher.

Joel: And they’ll drink like a two-liter of soda all at once to bloat.

Rachel: I’m always skeptical of that too, like is that even the same person?

Joel: Right yeah.

Rachel: Yeah.

Joel: Like they look a lot younger now, or a lot older now. Or whatever it may be. But, Anyway, I would also say that if the story does not flow properly, then that’s a bad visual storytelling. You know, scenario.

Jamie: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel: I think this is really big with infographic. I mean have you ever seen an infographic where you can’t tell which way you’re supposed to go?

Rachel: Yeah there is too much going on and –

Jamie: I tend to see, it seems like it’s half and half with infographics. You never know, Every time I start looking at them I’m like all right, if it doesn’t flow, if I cannot get it right away with infographics I’m just like Ugh

Rachel: The kind that have like the quizzes on them with all the lines. Like I like those sometimes but sometimes they get really confusing and I give up.

Jamie: Because they can get busy real quick. Yeah, infographics can be tough. I love them, but yeah they have to be done right. If they’re too busy or their not flowing right that can be a miss.

Joel: Oh, oh yeah for sure yeah, I love it whenever it’s like if this then follow here and then if this then follow here and by the time you get to the bottom of it you can’t figure out what the hell’s going on. You don’t know where you’re supposed to be. Or anything.

Jamie: It’s good when it’s the answer is always yes. Like ‘Should you purchase such and such? Yes or no?’ And then it just has all those questions and usually the answer is always Yes.

Joel: Right, right.

Jamie: Those are funny.

Joel: All right so, I think uh, anybody have anything else to add?

Rachel: I guess if you’re going to be doing visual story marketing -story telling marketing just make sure you have consistent images and that they actually relate to what you’re trying to promote.

Joel: Mm-hmm (affirmative) yeah visual storytelling marketing is a mouthful to say. They need to come up with a better phrase

Rachel: Its a very simple thing, it’s just a long topic.

Joel: Yeah so definitely, make sure that it’s relevant, make sure that it makes sense, it’s not confusing. And if you have anything, a brochure, a website anything that has too much text. You definitely need to add more graphics too it.

Rachel: Yes, when in doubt, always use pictures.

Joel: That’s why they say pictures are worth a thousand words. Because nobody wants to read a thousand words.

Joel: All right, this’ll wrap it up. And we’ll be right back with Can’t Let It Go