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Talking Content Marketing – With Danny Ashton

DANNY_ASHTON

Talking Content Marketing looks at the importance of visual content with Danny Ashton.

Danny is the founder of NeoMam, an agency based in Manchester, that loves producing unique visual content for businesses who want to reach out to an active online audience.

The team builds everything from scratch; ideas, research, content and design. The NeoMam PR team shares their content across the web to the most influential publishers and bloggers across the globe.

Danny stands for representing an innovative, ever-changing business, who put real people at the heart of every piece of content they create.

Six questions, six answers on the role that visual content plays and to have meaning in what we create.

Why is it important for brands to understand that words aren’t necessarily enough to keep an audience engaged?

Words are a fantastic tool for communicating a message and can also in many ways engage an audience, but relying on only one tool when when there are so many available is unreasonably limiting.

Colour visuals for example are a fantastic addition to text as they have been shown to increase willingness to read by up to 80%, as well as aid comprehension, encourage retention, be more persuasive and also enhance the perceived quality and authority of content.

So, if you have the option, why not use as many tools as you can?

 

Where do you see the main strengths in visual content? Is it for positioning, is it to highlight creativity, is it to be more helpful to interpret?

Personally I believe the greatest strength of visual content is in it’s ability to aid comprehension, if done well of course. Often, poorly designed visual content can muddy a message and actually hinder an audience’s understanding of a piece of content.

Well thought-out and skillfully designed visual content can make a real impact because it offers greater clarity. For example studies have shown that people following directions with text and illustrations perform 323% better than people following directions without illustrations, as visuals can help make a message more accessible.

The accessibility of content is important as on average audiences decide whether to engage with a piece of content in the first 10 seconds. So, if you’re unable to communicate your content’s message simply and efficiently it will not be as successful.

 

Can visual content extend our meaning of a message ie. being repurposed in a variety of ways from Slideshare to an infographic from a blog article?

Most visual content is ideal for leveraging. When you create a piece of visual content, say an infographic, you are also creating an asset resource. These assets you have created are an infographic, but they can also be:

  • divided into a collection of data-visualisations used to support an article
  • re-designed into sections for a presentation or Slide-Share
  • cropped or resized to create social-media ready content
  • used as the template for a storyboard that can be made into an animation
  • the framework for an interactive piece of content

Also the content of the piece, be it the research or the copy can also be an asset that can be considered for repurposing.

However, experience (or really good intuition) is required to understand how to appropriately leverage the assets of visual content. It isn’t always as simple as cutting your content into pieces and re-using it. But if leveraged appropriately one infographic (for example) can be re-appropriated into several pieces of content.

As an example, 13 Reasons why your Brain Craves Infographics, an interactive self-promotional piece of visual content we created, is in the process of being leveraged into a static infographic, an animation, the basis for a visual article/blog post and will also be translated into four different languages.

 

What is the biggest mistake businesses make when using visual content?

One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is assuming that visualising content is a magic wand that can turn a poor-concept into a successful piece. The success of visual content, as with all content is largely due to the idea behind it.

As I’ve mentioned previously visuals can aid comprehension, encourage retention, be more persuasive, enhance the perceived quality of content and make people more willing to consume, but if what they are consuming is ultimately poor content no amount of design can save it.

I would advise any content-producer to focus on the idea and place it above all else, because it’s the ‘content of your content’ that counts.

 

Are there brands (not necessarily on the NeoMam roster) that you admire for the way they interpret their visual message?

Of course the clients we admire the most are the ones who’ve had the good sense to work with NeoMam! But aside from that I think Volkswagen, Denny’s, LinkedIn and the American insurance company, Farmers Insurance, are just a few of the many companies whose visual content campaigns I really admire.

Volkswagen because historically they are one of the greats when it comes to visual content but because they have also managed to stay relevant for over 60 years.

Denny’s because… have you seen their blog? It’s weird and wonderful and has managed to cultivate a huge audience by being daring.

LinkedIn because they have such a professional and well-considered approach to their content output.

And finally Farmers Insurance because they understand the value of creating quality content. The inner circle part of their site is a fantastic resource which demonstrates how creating visual content that has practical value can really engage an audience.

 

What inspires you, how you do learn?

Every day I am inspired by how digital content changes and improves on such a regular basis. When I first went on Reddit.com 8 years ago – I did it to get out of doing work. Now it’s my direct access to the minds of 1000’s of people and what issues they really care about – indispensable when it comes to coming up with content ideas.

In terms of learning I spend an absurd amount of time reading everything the content marketing and wider business world puts out. I’m almost Darwinian in my approach to educating as well, I’ll try anything see if it works and if it survives I keep it, if not, I let it die.


 

Many thanks to Danny for sharing his experiences and his look on the world. Why not have a look at what Danny and NeoMan are up to:

The NeoMam site: click here

Danny on Twitter: click here

Wow…just wow. Look at this trendmap from NeoMam (desktop only): click here

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