If you’re trying to sell something, whether it’s a product, a service, or even your old car, you need to get your marketing right if you want to attract potential customers. One of the crucial aspects of your marketing is the visual impact; the impression you make on the people who see your adverts, read your brochure or land on your website. There is so much choice when it comes to finding what you’re after, that unless your business catches the eye and relates to the people who you want as your customers, they will simply move on to the next advert or business listing in their search results.
The window of opportunity is fleeting
If you think about how you behave when searching online, for example, you’ll realize that in most cases you will make a decision about whether a website is worth investigating based largely on your impression of the landing page. That means that if you want people to engage with your business, you have one chance and a few seconds to grab their attention and show them they’ve come to the right place. There are some experiences that crop up all too often when browsing online or looking at printed materials that will almost always put people off:
- Error pages. Clicking through from a list of results to be faced with an error page is immediately off-putting. It not only fails to take the person where they want to go, but it implies that the website may be poorly maintained. You can avoid “404 page not found” messages by checking links on your site on a regular basis. You should also customize your 404 page to encourage people to stay on your site, offering alternative pages or the option to search the site for what they need.
- Too much text. Landing pages or brochures that have large swaths of unbroken writing make a poor visual impression, and most people will decide that it’s too much trouble to try and plough through all the content to find what they want. If the page is designed to provide detailed information, that’s fine, but it should be broken up into sections and interspersed with illustrations to make it more appealing. Having multiple columns or sections of a page all crammed with text confuses the eye and makes people go elsewhere.
- Unformatted content. When websites were first created, they were often just lists of links and articles on a page, with little formatting or design. People now expect to see a modern presentation on websites, with a clear definition, graphics, borders, colours, and boxed sections that make the content easy to navigate. The list approach looks old-fashioned and unprofessional, and it won’t matter how good the business is or how well-written your posts are, because people won’t hang around long enough to read them.
- Font styles and sizes. Certain fonts look dated, unless they are being used in context. For example, Courier New font resembles typewritten text, which would look wrong on a modern business website. However, if you wanted to re-create the atmosphere of a crime novel from the 1950s, it could be ideal. Many websites and printed materials make the mistake of having a very small text size, which may look aesthetically pleasing on the surface, and imply authority, but if it’s hard to read it will fail to keep people on the page. Using text colours that don’t have sufficient contrast to the background will also be frustrating for people; again, it might look artistic, but if half a post’s black text is almost invisible where it overlaps a dark background photo, your message will be lost.
- Pop-ups, adverts, and flashing images. A common sales trick used on many websites is for a pop-up to appear shortly after the landing page opens, usually offering a subscription to an email list, or a free gift for giving the site your email address. These can be useful, and people have come to expect them, but they should only pop up once – if they keep appearing every few minutes, or every time you click on a link to another page on the site, your potential customers are going to get fed up and go elsewhere. Having too many animated graphics or flashing adverts is not only confusing for the viewer, but gives an impression that the site lacks gravity and is too sales focused. Use animation and advertising sparingly if you want to make a good impression.
Developing your brand
Businesses will always make a more lasting impression if they have eye catching logos that consumers can recognize easily and identify with a particular business. When you develop your branding, you should aim to make the logo prominent and relevant to your business, and use a strap-line that entices people to find out more. Visual retention of information is more instant and effective than learning by reading text, and the brand awareness of major global companies bears testament to that assertion. Pay attention to the details and get some independent feedback on any designs you create.
Testing the logo and branding on a target group with no knowledge of your business is the best way to get a picture of the impression your creation will make. It’s often been found that what looks like an obvious representation of a particular item to the business owner looks like something completely different to an independent observer. If you rush into implementing your branding campaign without getting it properly assessed, you run the risk of having your company associated with an entirely different kind of business, which will make your investment of time and money not only wasted, but possibly damaging.
Getting the visuals right on your promotional materials is just the first step to securing the customers you want. Having impressed them with the visual representation of your business, you then need to have the infrastructure to support the claims you are making, and the quality of service, expertise, and most importantly the right offer that will turn browsers into buyers.