How a poor use of graphics can undermine your marketing content

By Renae Gregoire | Graphics

Aug 15
Do your marketing visuals match the expectations of your audience?

Graphics are good ... but think about your readers when choosing them!

Two thoughts about graphics and marketing content:

  • I love graphics, all sorts of graphics: infographics, photographs, charts, you name it.
  • I'm a proponent of "less is more" when it comes to marketing content, especially when it comes to ebooks.​

I wrote my own treatise on the topic of using ebooks to market your products and services, outlining my thoughts on what's good, what's bad, what's hot, and what's not.

In that treatise, I beg ebook marketers to 1) be abnormally generous with white space, 2) use large, relevant images throughout, and 3) use less text on more pages because it's easier for readers to digest a 40-page ebook with 100 words per page than it is to digest a five-page ebook with 800 words per page. 

It's the difference between "oh my God look at this wall of text I have no time and I can't read this crap!" and "Hmm; this looks interesting...."

Now, let me add a third thought:

  • Because I like to keep tabs on current and former clients (and their competitors), I always join their mailing lists to keep the content coming. ​

Combine the three thoughts, and that brings me to the point of this email:

  • Graphics = good
  • Longer ebooks with less text and large images on each page = good​
  • Keeping tabs on past and current clients = lessons for my readers

A real-life example of an ebook fail

Now, before I get started here, I want you to understand my heart. Please know that I'm not sharing this example to gloat. I'm not trying to embarrass anyone, which is why I blurred out the company name.

In fact, seeing content like what I'm about to share makes me sad, especially when it comes from a former client! Didn't they learn anything working with me? Then again, they've had a lot of turnover; I'd be surprised if more than two or three people there would recognize my name.

The content in question (or the questionable content) is a new ebook from a former client. It knocked my socks off -- and not in a good way. It's almost as if they read my ebook treatise, and then asked a fifth grader to create an ebook based on it.

  • They used graphics, large graphics = good
  • They didn't cram a lot of text on each page = good
  • ​They chose graphics that seriously undermined their effort = bad, bad, bad, sad

Seriously. Take a look at this page, one of many just like it.

Don't use dumb graphics in your marketing materials

 Unfortunately, the ebook goes on like that for 45 long pages, most of which feature very little text and one huge graphic.

Chunky style. Or ... more like Fisher Price style?

Do your marketing visuals match the expectations of your audience?

Lest you think I'm kidding when I say that most of the ebook is laid out this way, here are images from a few more pages for your perusal.

Do the images in your ebook match audience expectations?

​And here's a serious question you might be asking yourself right now: Was the text any good?

But ... how were the words ... the actual content ... the text? 

Based on what I see here, I'd say no, the text is not good either. But honestly, I'm not sure because I was so ... disturbed ... appalled ... by the graphics and layout that I barely read more than a few words.​

Perhaps I'm a snob, but I don't think so. I genuinely feel the graphics here make this ebook appropriate ONLY for children in elementary school.

They are certainly not appropriate for a SaaS company selling a high-value service to businesses.

Oh how I want to reach out to this company to offer my assistance! This is what I live for -- to help companies create content experiences people enjoy and respect, experiences that make them want to do business with you!

But I don't think that's a great approach: "Hey there, I just downloaded your new ebook.... I think it sucks and would love to help you improve it...."

Although I can't do that, I can, however, share the sad tale here as a warning for you.

I can't believe I even have to say this, but the rule is to use "audience-appropriate" graphics in your ebooks, and all other marketing materials.

Note: Fisher Price image courtesy of m01229 on Flickr. Thanks!


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About the Author

Renae Gregoire is a marketing writer, editor, critical thinker, obsessive questioner, and excellent-results deliverer. Although writing is her talent, empathy is her Super Power; she combines both into a potent formula for creating content experiences that lead more people to YES!

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