Tender, juicy and flavorful. Custom cuts. Thigh meat. Bone-in or boneless. I was recently tasked with writing about products for a meat supplier. I wrote about filets and flavors with language implying in-depth and first-hand knowledge of Western culture’s favorite protein. I love writing and I loved writing this. I ate it up, so to speak. And I’ve been a vegetarian since 1997. Copywriters often need to find a balance between feigning expertise and simply doing the right research. I didn’t have to sample each of these carnivorous delights to complete the task, just as I haven’t needed to learn how to haul a trailer to write about the trucking community. “Write what you know” is excellent advice and a commonly misunderstood phrase. It’s certainly a great place to begin writing but it can become an excuse to insert oneself into the narrative. A piece of advice I was once given is to remember that Memoirs of a Geisha, a popular novel about a geisha in WWII-era Japan, was written by a Jewish man from Tennessee. Research is vital. But so are emotions. There’s a chasm of difference between a traditional classified ad in a newspaper and crafting a story around your CTA. Author Nathan Englander says that writing what you know is about emotions. Do you know what it means to have a passion? To care deeply about a cause, a community, and yes, even a product? Then you have it in you to write compelling ad copy. Below are 4 tips for writing about subject matter outside of one’s own personal scope or experience: Research and research again. To compel the reader to take an action when you’re unfamiliar with the subject, read what you can. Challenge what you read and follow up on those challenges. Ask questions. The answer is often hiding in the research. Don’t let ignorance keep you from writing skilled content. Listen to your audience. Say you’re writing blog content directed toward a niche community or fanbase. Start by asking the obvious (i.e. where do they live?). Then listen closely to them: What are their values? What is the vernacular? Use the right tone. If you write about auto repair using the correct terms but sound like someone who’s never set foot in a garage, you’ve missed the mark. Worse, you may have pushed the reader away for good because you’ve lost their trust. Give them cause to trust you and they’re more likely to trust the content. Tap into a common emotion. Details are necessary to support your cause (correct terminology, up-to-date statistics, etc.), but details are not necessarily what makes content compelling. I don’t personally know what it’s like to be on a search for the best poultry products in the Midwest, but I do know what it’s like to be frustrated with trying to track down the right products to provide your customers. I want to help this audience by showing them that I have the answer they are looking for. Remember to forget. It’s easy to take your own experience too far and insert yourself into a narrative. It’s only human. One of my personal challenges in writing is that I tend to essentially write to myself. Sometimes writing this way works, but ask yourself if you are in the target audience. If not, remember to forget yourself a bit. Bon appétit. Everyone knows the pain. Sometimes clients unknowingly interfere with the design process. It’s not their fault, and design is just one of those things that not everyone understands. But it can cause for a difficult interaction between designer and client. “Can you put that above the fold?” “Why is the type so small?” “It’s not modern enough.” This may sound familiar. While moving past uncomfortable experiences is one thing, it can become taxing to continue losing budget or compromising design integrity as a result of seemingly endless change requests. So what can we do? Build Relationships The ultimate objective when working with a client is to make them happy with exceptional work that achieves their goal. More often than not, this means producing less than the best possible design… Which is okay. (Did I really just say that?) As a designer myself, I know that this is inevitable, but there can be a good balance between the two. Taking the time to vet the client and ask questions up front can make a world of difference. If you know what they want from the start, it is much easier than jumping right in and hoping for the best. Gather as much context from them as you can early on and your odds of producing something that exceeds their expectations slants heavily in your favor. Not only will this leave you both satisfied but it will also prove as a solid foundation to keep working together in the future. Say No, and Communicate Sometimes you have to push back. Nobody likes being told “no,” but it is important to remember that you are the expert in this situation and if you feel deep down that what they are asking is a problem, then explain your reasoning. Do the client the service of educating them on why you may be pushing back. There needs to be give and take, and clients will respect that as long as you give them reason to. Just remember to be polite and professional. This may mean referring back to the contract you worked so hard on, clarifying the amount of revisions you are comfortable with, and explaining what is considered outside of scope. Feed off of Criticism Quite frankly, design is not for those that are sensitive and fragile. If that is you, then at this time you need to put that part of you away. Criticism is your friend and you need to listen to it and learn from it. It is very important that criticism is handled in a professional manner, and in the end, it provides the best opportunity to suit your client’s wants and needs. Promise Only What You Can Deliver First interactions with a client can be very exciting. There is drive to sell your services and to get clients thrilled to be working with you. It is important to remember that your reputation is on the line. Something you don’t want to hear: “But [designer name], you promised…” If you do find yourself in this situation, promptly take responsibility and do all you can to repair the damage. Not all is lost at this point, but take measures to go above and beyond to fix what is broken. ………….. I think it can, at times, be far too easy for a designer to place blame on the client for causing problems with a design process. But I also believe it is very important to take a step back and really ponder how you handled the situation from the start. As stated above, there are many things that can be done to prevent a great project from becoming subpar. And remember that your job as a designer is create the exceptional design that helps to achieve the client’s goal. This is the win.
As a photographer, I see the world a little differently than most. For example, when someone looks around a city, they see buildings, people, bus stops, restaurants, blinking lights and cars racing. When I look around a city, I see a story, opportunity and art. This same mindset applies when I look at a client’s product. Whether it’s a book, a piece of jewelry or an article of clothing, each item has the power to tell a story. My goal is to tell that story through photography. My name is Faith Bischoff and I am the in-house photographer/videographer for Symposia Labs. I have been working to master my craft since 2014. For me, photography has grown from a casual hobby into a career. At Symposia Labs, our goal is to create conversations that change minds, to take our clients to the next level with their digital footprint. In order to do that, we apply multiple tools and techniques, including photography and videography. What many people don’t know (or do know but are not taking advantage of the opportunity) is that storytelling with quality photo and video are some of the top marketable techniques that agencies are using today. Why is this? Because this tool gives you the opportunity to tell a story with your product, to let your audience feel something, be a part of something and see a piece of culture they couldn’t before. Digital marketing is about breaking boundaries and continuing to learn what else is out there – you never stop learning and you never stop creating. Applying photography and videography to your skill set is doing just that. Here you will not only get an idea of the importance of photography and video, but you will also begin to learn the techniques that will help you take your digital marketing skills to the next level.
Tip 1: ConsistencyThroughout my experience in both photography and digital marketing, I have learned that consistency is extremely important. Consistency applies to graphic design with the client’s branding, the cadence and language of copywriting, and photographed content. Each client, no matter the product or service, will have their own idea of the imagery representing them. It’s important that you understand both the goal of the campaign and the client’s vision. Applying these to your process will help you to create captivating content that is consistent with the client’s message.
Tip 2: BrandingRight in step with consistency is branding. As a photographer, I have done a variety of shoots including family, single portrait, engagement, wedding, and product – and each one is different. However, when someone looks at one of my photos, they know that it’s mine due to my style and the way I brand my work. This same concept should apply for a client. When you shoot for a client’s specific needs, each photo should follow that client’s brand as best as possible. You can do this by coordinating with your graphic designer so they can apply the client’s logo or colors to create consistency and brand recognition.
Tip 3: EquipmentI can’t emphasize enough how important the right equipment is for a quality shoot. The tips in this blog post will not be effective if used with the wrong tools. First off, you will not do your client any justice if you shoot with an iPhone. They are paying you for quality content that showcases their brand, their company, their culture, and the best way to capture that is with an SLR or a DSLR camera. My personal preference of brand is Canon, however Nikon, Sony and Pentax are also very reliable. You’ll want a camera that allows you to alter your lighting, has a strong focus and a lot of depth to your subject. Any SLR or DSLR camera will give you this so you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars, but you do need to invest in your equipment. Next you will need a tripod, a couple of lenses, memory cards and memory card holders, flash cubes and lens cleaner. Many camera brands offer bundles that include most of these. Do your research, know your budget and shop accordingly. Getting the right equipment is vital as it will be vital in determining the quality of your photo and therefore the quality of the ad.
Tip 4: Time of DayWhether indoors or outdoors, the time of the day is important. Natural light for product photography is great because it decreases awkward shadows and harsh reflections. In my experience, late afternoon is typically the best time of day to get your perfect shot. This will allow you to grab photos that have natural and more vibrant colors, flattering for portraits and easy to edit when needed.
Tip 5: Location and BackgroundAs I stated before, there are many components to taking quality photos for your clients, but where you take them is one of the most important to creating worthy content. Where you shoot depends on what you are shooting (products, people, the company’s building or office etc.). Plain or modestly decorated backgrounds work best when featuring a product. This leaves you extra space for your graphic designer to incorporate any design elements that the client wants, such as logo or brand name. You can simply use a white backdrop in your office or studio, or a portable studio. What’s important to note here is to remember that the more white space, the better. The same concept applies for portrait or group shots. The only significant difference is that you don’t need a white background, just a neutral one for shots that are usable for ads. These shots can be done in front of brick, white, or solid color walls, outside with greenery, or in the client’s office to let their audience get to know more about them.
Tip 6: Product vs. PortraitThere can be big differences in shooting for product and portrait. To begin with the obvious, any product will shoot well with the right lighting and positioning. However, shooting portraits and group of people takes a lot more effort. Product: Shooting any client’s product takes time, positioning, patience and precision. As I stated earlier, you need to factor in the right time to get prime lighting, and understand where you will be shooting in order to have the picture reach its full potential. My biggest tip here is to take multiple shots of one product at different angles so when the shoot is done, you have options on what to work with. Those angles can include overhead, landscape, portrait, or a little more obscure depending on the product. The biggest takeaway here is you’ll want a lot of options. In order to get the right shot in the end, take all factors into account and apply them correctly. Portrait: There’s a lot to consider when shooting portraits or large groups of people. Aside from what we’ve already discussed, it’s the photographer’s responsibility that these factors work to flatter the person or group as much as possible. This means making sure there are no harsh shadows or reflections, that the background fits the scene and setting for the client. This is where photographers have more room to be creative and test out what works and what doesn’t. We have to read the situation – is this person comfortable in front of the camera? Will it take a little bit of effort to get them to pose right and look relaxed? Or are they naturals and this will go by faster? You have to cater your service to whom you are shooting for. Try making them feel relaxed in front of the camera and most importantly, understand their best angles rather than how you would pose for a photo. Portraits can be done right with patience and expertise and this is the time to be a perfectionist, to make sure there are no flaws in a photo as you want to produce the best work possible for your client.
Tip 7: TechniqueIt’s easy in some cases to just “point and shoot” and others call you to be creative, to understand what works for your subjects and what does not. This is where skill comes into play and you need to pick your photographers wisely. Many people can take a picture, but few people can direct a shoot. No photographer is the same when it comes to applying his/her technique as it’s what differentiates them from other photographers. Knowing the basics of a good technique is a stepping stone to being an excellent photographer.
Tip 8: Content UseRemember that your photos will be used as content on your client’s website, it will become an ad. These shoots are not your personal work – there are guidelines you must follow based on the client’s needs and expectations. If you go in with the idea that this is your shoot, for your personal work and art, then you won’t capture what the client needs. What you can apply as a photographer is your skill, your expertise, your opinion on what a good picture looks like, and your direction. When it comes to creativity and artistic opinion, it may be limited depending on the client’s needs, as they are the priority.
Tip 9: EditingEditing is relative. Direction depends on the brand of the client, the aesthetic of their social media presence, and whether you are shooting products or portraits. My one tip here is to make all your pictures look as natural as possible with colors and lighting. When editing – whether that’s cropping, resizing, light altering or what have you – it is important to take it slow. The biggest challenge photographers have with shoots and their clients is getting the product back in a timely matter. The reason behind this is that they are precise with their edits. When you edit a shoot, you want to take your time, be a perfectionist, look at the photo and the potential it has to be better. Editing could differ in regard to time based on if it is a product or portrait shoot, but the precision will stay consistent. When it comes what software to use, I recommend Adobe Lightroom. You are not the graphic designer, you are purely the photographer, therefor you don’t need to worry about adding graphics with Photoshop. Lightroom will provide you will simple, user-friendly tools for a low cost. What I have found throughout shooting for clients is that while some photos require editing, others may just need to be straightened then cropped, and you call it good. It really depends on what you’re shooting and what the client wants out of it.
Tip 10: Sizing for AdsWhen sizing your photos for ads and making your graphic designer’s job ten times easier, it is important to know the dimensions required for each ad platform. You can find this information on each social media platform, as they are very specific and tend to update. It is important to just note that every picture should have these measurements considered.
In conclusion, each photographer is different. We are constantly learning as our world, technique and equipment constantly evolve. These ten tips are good to keep in mind, but it’s also natural that you’ll develop into your own tips. Learn to take these as a basis and mold them into something that is applicable to the work you produce, your clients and your work environment.
All marketing campaigns include a design element, so companies planning a campaign should not leave the design for last. Designers can help achieve marketing success through creative efforts in every step of the process. Marketing is more successful when the design approach is strong, relatable, and focused. Leverage the creative process, as well as the knowledge and skills of your designer, and accomplish your goals together.
Find Inspiration & Follow Trends Good designers help businesses achieve success by staying up to date on their skills as well as best practices and current trends. Focus on what’s coming next in the design world with a few areas of focus: · Internet searches: It’s a no-brainer. Search online to investigate topics related to your project. Blog posts and news articles are all at your fingertips pointing designers to success. · Social media: Social accounts are great resources for designers to find information quickly and accurately. Jump down the hashtag rabbit hole on Instagram or Twitter – inspiration is waiting! Identify influencers and keep an eye on their work. · Networking face-to-face: Stay current with changes in design by attending networking events and seminars at both a local and regional/national level. Maintain professional contacts within the industry and use your network to help answer questions and give your client or employer the cutting-edge design they’re looking. · Leverage the industry: Organizations like AIGA (American Institute for Graphic Arts) sends out weekly emails to its members and provides in-person training that designers are sure to find helpful.
Use Your Toolbox Companies usually draw on statistics, survey data, or even focus groups on finding where to direct their marketing dollars. Gain access to this data and use it to help inform the direction of your design. A good digital designer will connect the dots between proper design principles and the power of data to create a total package marketing effort.
It’s no secret that people spend hours a day on their phones. Of Facebook’s 1.15 billion daily active users, 56.5% log in only on a mobile device. With information being displayed on small screens, designing clear content for an easy experience is crucial. A major challenge many companies face is their customers’ aversion to commitment. Until they have experience with a product or service, the average customer is still “shopping around.” Your job as a designer is to focus on connecting a customer’s needs to a business driver. Use design to tell the brand’s story and you’ll connect them to the brand itself, not just a product or service. That’s the relationship. That’s how the door is opened to commitment. Build trust with branded content. Business design is vastly differently than it was even a decade ago. Designing requires looking at the business as a whole and from many angles. 80% of consumers are more likely to evaluate brands they follow on social media. Creating specific solutions for the brand as opposed to showcasing an isolated product or service, can help a company flourish. The model for mobile success relies on design skills and experimenting. Simplicity, fluidity, and minimalism are three focal points to drive the best results for most businesses. Cut the fat and give the customer a well-designed, clear experience. The never ending debate of Creative vs. Data is a rabbit hole many of us have found ourselves headed down. Clashing opinions can turn to noise as you look for that one true answer to this ongoing question. From my experience, the reason why this answer seems elusive is because it may not exist. I’m not a data expert. I can research, I can track, I can calculate leads – but I cannot tell you the why behind many bumps or declines in a campaign’s action. When A/B testing results surprise me, the numbers aren’t what pull me in. At all. For me, creative content has always come organically. I enjoy tearing down and rebuilding a paragraph, word by word. The whole process makes sense to me, even when it doesn’t. (Which is in itself a sentence other ‘creatives’ might relate to.) The same could be said of left-brainers. Like a chemist closely observing test tubes in a lab, every team needs their analytics guru. Data specialists may as well wear lab coats in my opinion. But there is a sweet spot that neither side can always expect. It can’t be calculated while one frame of mind smothers the other. Here’s an example. Our team was working on an email campaign for a client. The language had to be very specific. The intended audience was not going to respond to flowery copy, eye-catching design, even traditional buzzwords. As a copywriter, I couldn’t use my usual tools, making this a particular challenge. The finished product looked like somewhat dolled up plain text emails. And the results exceeded expectation. The message was received clearly because every part of it was curated so specific to that audience. The readers responded to their version of the perfect balance of creative and data. It may not have been what either side of my own brain found 100% pleasing, but it spoke to the right balance in the context and generated incredible leads. Every campaign, every detail, every goal, is different. There is no one-size-fits-all, but there is certainly a fit out there for each size. It just takes the right balance, and the fine-tuning to get there.
Achieving Success When design is a priority from the start, the client and the designer can work together to achieve success. The most successful and powerful innovations stem from three main branches: – what appeals to consumers – what technology allows – the marketing goal The digital frontier today seems endless, and a good designer creates a seamless interaction between brand and consumer. Ultimately, design drives the success of digital marketing for any company. By applying this knowledge and process to your design and marketing efforts, you will be a relevant and powerful creative commodity.