Facebook Ads, Stock Photos and Branding. How to balance branding with the fast pace of digital ads.

by Toby

May 15, 2014

stock-photos-and-brandingGrowing a brand is of high concern of any growing business. Companies spend heaps of time and money perfecting their logos and color schemes. Many times, however, the focus on branding can take over common sense, especially when it comes to online advertising.

Remember when you took those pictures?

Creative work does take time and money so professional photographers and graphic designers are typically hired at the planning stages of a business. Once “enough” material is produced to place on websites, brochures, flyers, etc. the activity is concluded.

However, most business owners don’t understand that the real need for producing media begins when the business starts advertising.

You’re not doing only print ads anymore!

In traditional advertising, let’s say print, may consist of producing one postcard or mailer. All business owners would have to do is to update the offer, expiration dates, and things like that, and they would be good to go to send that mailer out every 3 months. Perhaps this mediocre approach used to work a few years ago, and yes, businesses still do it that way. I can assure you it’s not the most profitable advertising technique. We’ve done many tests with clients where we measure cost per acquisition of a customer via different advertising mediums, and mediocre print always loses… by far.

Facebook marketing is dynamic.

Now, when a business delves into digital marketing, the rules of the game change. Digital marketing is extremely dynamic. Where before you only needed one picture of your widget for your printed ad, now you can have dozens of pictures on your digital medium. And you can also have a video, plus more photos of people using your widget, plus pictures of other related widgets. The options are endless. We also know that consumers like to see your widget in all of its potential. As consumers, we no longer want to see just the white shirt, with a dropdown to select color variations of blue, red, and yellow. We want to see the blue shirt, the red shirt, and the yellow shirt. And it would be even better if you showed it to me on a model, to see how it looks. The front and back would be nice, plus a zoom version of the fabric. Yes, I almost want to touch it online before I buy it.

Digital marketing allows you to test and lower your marketing ROI.

Digital ads can be changed almost instantly. You can test one image against another in hours. No more sticking to print deadlines and waiting for 3 weeks after the drop and $10,000 dollars later. You can test which color widget performs better, or which picture – an older couple, or a younger couple? What headline works, “save 50%” or “save $10 dollars”. You can see what works best, the product by itself, or a customer using it at home? A smiling person, or a landscape? And when you test you improve, and when you improve you bring your costs down and your revenue up!

So, giving this scenario is your initial investment in a photographer, back when the business started, sufficient?

Time to invest in a professional photographer.

We have a large client that has a handful of professional photos that showcase their services. Yes, taken years ago for their brochures and first website (I think they’re on their 4th or 5th website revision).

Every time we want to do image ads, we get referred to their same old drive with the same old pictures. For some time we were able to manage, cropping them, flipping them over, you name it, we did it.

But then we launched Facebook ads. For those of you who have not tried Facebook ads yet, it is an extremely powerful advertising tool. However, it’s tremendously dynamic. Ads have to be changed every 2 or 3 days for this client. Also, to be effective, ads have to be very targeted. So if we’re advertising to a young woman, we need to show a young woman in an ad, if we advertise to a slightly older woman, we need to show her a bit older. Back in the day, one picture that portrayed your “target market” sufficed. Now, you have to develop “personas”. Personas show a deeper understanding of each type of person you want to target, which includes not only basic demographics but also interests and behaviors. Then, careful development of specific messages should be drafted for each together with the imagery for ads.

Online marketing, and in particular Facebook marketing is complex but when done right it can be exceptionally successful.

So what is one to do with the “branding” efforts?

1) Hire a professional photographer throughout the year to have plenty of “approved” pictures to use in advertising.

2) If the budget does not allow, then use stock photography to show aspirational images. This is better than your same old tired and dark picture that really does nothing to attract new customers.

3) Relax the “brand” police, limiting it to strict use of logo, not imagery. Remember while your logo is timeless, your images aren’t.

People are no longer buying just a brand. People buy experiences. One photo of your service is not enough, you need dozens. If your resources do not allow for it, then buy stock photos, but present your services in as many ways as you have target markets. This will bring down the ROI of your marketing efforts.

At the end of the day, a brand, even a large one, representing an unprofitable business, will eventually expire.

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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