Marketing Design Tip: Skip the Stock Photos

In a recent design team meeting, we were introducing a newer team member to our vendors, file system and all the usual “stuff” that we do in marketing on a daily basis. The topic of stock photos was raised and we discussed how we very rarely use them. Below are few reason why we avoid stock photos and some creative ideas what to use instead.

Why Not Use Stock Photos?

Cost: Stock photos can be expensive. Even in this age of royalty free and $1 photos, the numbers can add up and effect your budget in ways you don’t particularly like.

Custom: You want your marketing pieces to speak to who you are and adding in a photo that thousands of other people have purchased and used can hinder that.

What to do Instead?

Custom Photos: We all have cameras on our phones that are just as good as the ones professional photographers use. The photos that are taken on smart devices (phones/tablets) can even be used for even print media. Sure, we might not be able to get every last photo our mind can think of, but occasionally, our phones are all we need to snap a perfect picture for a piece. Whether it is a product shot, lifestyle image or landscape, you have the ability to get the image you need for free.

This product shot style image was taken using a piece of printer paper, my iPhone and sunlight from a window.

This product shot style image was taken using a piece of printer paper, my iPhone and sunlight from a window.

This landscape image was taken using my iPhone a couple years ago, and was very easily used in a seasonal campaign.

This landscape image was taken using my iPhone a couple years ago and was very easily used in a seasonal campaign.


Blurs and Backgrounds:
When you are using product shots, patterns or everyday objects, you can create nice graphic elements out of normal photos. Adding a blur to photo and making it a background image is one way you can create a custom feel. Another way you can do this is by getting into your photo editing software and create a simple shape and repeating it in the background.

Using the landscape image, I made it bigger and blurred it for a nice background effect.

Using the landscape image, I made it bigger and blurred it for a nice background effect.

White Space: Don’t be afraid to allow open space in your pieces. Open space (which doesn’t have to be white and can be solid colors, gradients or the backgrounds we mentioned above) creates a feeling of sophistication and openness that will direct the viewer’s eye.

A nice clean font and CTA is always a safe and effective choice.

A nice clean font and CTA is always a safe and effective choice.

Typography: Words and fonts are can be a beautiful thing, and as Kim discussed in a previous tip, pairing fonts can create a mood just as good as, if not better than a photo or image.

Mixing a few fonts, adding a background pattern and allowing the background to act as white space creates a free, attractive design.

Mixing a few fonts, adding a background pattern and allowing the background to act as white space creates a free, attractive design.


MattMatthew is a Web and Graphic Designer with over 15 years experience. He has been a fine artist and cartoonist his entire life, and this love of art lead him into the design field in art school. He currently works as Creative Account Manager for Core Elements.

 

5 Tips for Better Email Marketing

5EmailTips (2)Email marketing is an unavoidable task for even the smallest business these days. We have compiled a short list of 5 tips that can be the first step in helping you to create more effective email campaigns:

  1. First Impressions Count – The subject line of your email is most likely the first thing people will see. If it does not grab the attention of the reader, there is a chance they will scan over it without giving a second look. Also, you want your subject line to be descriptive, but not too long. It is recommended that subject lines are no more than 50 characters.
  2. Not Too Wordy – You always want to make sure your emails are not too long. Your readers can get dozens, if not hundreds of emails a day to read and if your email has the appearance of a book, it can give them reason to move on to the next one. Trends over the last 5 years show that due to the overabundance of email marketing, emails have been getting shorter and shorter to remain effective. Your emails should not exceed a word count of 250.
  3. Focused Campaign – Nobody knows your customers and clients better than you do. You know what they like and should use that to your advantage. Make sure your email campaign has a clear message. You don’t want your marketing emails to come off as being a newsletter. Choose a theme or message and make sure to stay on track when writing and creating your email.
  4. Images – If you have the capability to place images in your email, you’ll want to make sure they add value. You want to use images that apply to the theme of your email, or actual images of your product or offering. Also, if you are creating a banner or header image, these should not be any larger than 600 pixels wide.
  5. Give Them Somewhere To Go – Whether it is a link to shop your site, read your blog or a request to email you for more information, you always want to make sure to have at least one clear call-to-action. If you are using only text in your email, be sure to bold the call-to-action and, if possible, give it a color that stands out. If you have the capability to include images in your email, surrounding the call-to-action in a box, or giving it a background color is a great way to let your readers know where to click.

While this is just a vague short-list of ideas to help you in your email campaign creation, taking these steps should help to improve your emails. You are always encouraged to search the web for email marketing related articles that can go more in depth on the subject, or visit our Ask Us page for more specific questions on the topic.