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In the 1920’s, Fred R. Barnard, in a scene right out of Mad Men, took a turn of phrase discussed by newspaper editors two decades earlier and turned it into a cultural phenomenon.  

Attributing the words to Confucius and other Eastern philosophers, Barnard created a backstory for his advertising axiom, giving it more weight and a timeless quality that we still see today.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Actually, the story goes that Barnard tried to say a picture was worth 10,000 words, but got pushback from his colleagues, and ‘a thousand words’ became the given phrase. Of course, on the show, Don Draper would turn this sentiment on its ear to sell the Kodak Carousel. But even by the show’s era, the phrase had become accepted as fact.

Word Pictures

I love learning about history – especially the weird, mostly forgotten bits – and as a lifelong Protestant, I am naturally drawn to the power of words. I’ve made a career out of it. Both as a screenwriter and a copywriter, I (hopefully) weave vibrant visuals in your mind’s eye. But these sometimes pale in comparison to seeing something – a picture, a video, a moment captured in time.

Words marked the beginning of our modern technology. Outside of numbers and code, our first Internet was electronic bulletin boards. Our first video games? Text-based Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Even the technology that allowed TV’s to work over long distances was based on how a typewriter works.

But, to paraphrase Madonna, we live in a visual world, and we’re visual girls, er, people.

Sure, we’re not to the point where Tom Cruise can reach up and move pictures around on a heads-up-display like in Minority Report. But even just looking at the progress of social media in the last 10 years – Facebook wants to put images on your text status updates. YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap, Tik Tok; the list goes on. All emphasizing visual mediums.

Images are already returned for 19% of searches on Google, and 62% of millennials say they are more interest in visual search than any other new technology. Don’t even get me started on Generation Z. Google is racing the social media platforms to develop a more robust and accurate visual search technology – and they may be losing that race.

Yes, Content is Still King

BUT… Your content must increasingly be more dynamic. It’s not enough to just have one graphic at the top of your article, that travels with it when shared on email or social media. For most people, visuals tend to be easier to remember than written content.

Amazing images are great, but works best is an amalgam of words and visuals. Adding data visualizations and infographics – mixing visuals with short, bold words can help your message to be absorbed better and recalled more clearly.

Of course, additional images and videos can only add to the interesting-ness of your content blog post. And they will gain more traction on Google and the other search engines. It can even help you get closer to and even capture “position zero” on the search page.

 Gateway to Engagement

Another aspect of embracing more images in your work comes in your company’s social media accounts. This can be tricky to navigate at times, but if done properly, can engage and build your customer base.

I’ve written before about the power of turning your customers into brand evangelists. There’s some interesting studies I was looking at this week. One done in 2017 found that allowing your employees to have more agency in promoting the company – on both their social media profiles as well as the company’s – can generate 7-times as many valuable leads than the company on its own.

Where am I going with this? I’ve made no secret of the fact that I started as a client of Grow the Dream, back when it was Epiphany Marketing – and now I teach others what I continue to learn. Unlike some “official” blogs, my posts are not anonymous, but bear my name. And the same is true for all our staff.

Like I said, it can get complicated, and you’ll need to be a little more vigilant on your social media (which should never be set it and forget it, to be honest), but utilize the power of Internet 2.0 and allow both employees and clients to share on social media – preferably visuals.

It makes you feel more personable, relatable, human and real. Not some giant conglomerate. And, yes, it will help broaden and elevate your presence on social media and in search results. Worth the trade off, I think.

Strategic Marketing Transformation

There are two ways to approach change. You buckle down and try to ride it out. Of course, that barely works in a hurricane. Or you take it in stride, adjust your approach as needed and ride the wave up.

The basic principles and concepts of strategic marketing haven’t changed. They’re still the same as when David started this company more than 20 years ago. Even with all the Google algorithm changes, moving from nothing to MySpace to Facebook and beyond, changing names – the things that mattered are still the same.

Who is your ideal customer, what are you selling them, and how do you find them/help them find you?  

Once you have that done, the rest is just tweaking to fit the minor changes. If you’re still struggling with the first part, we can help out with that. We offer custom solutions, tailored to each client to do the most with their available resources. We can get you started, as well as deliver content on a regular basis to build your brand and customer base. If that’s something you need, please reach out today!