Many parts of content marketing are slow. It takes a long time to build up an effective library of content. Establishing relationships with people is not a fast process. The sales cycle can be many months, or as much as a year or more.

But there is one part of content marketing that requires speed.

See, the average attention span when people are visiting websites or looking at e-mail is very short. You only have a few seconds to show them that the content you are providing is worthwhile.

If they have to read through several paragraphs before they get to something interesting, it won’t work. They will never get there.

This is where the importance of design comes in.

Words are wonderful, but people cannot take in very many words in a short period of time. We can, however, assess the entire feel of a piece based on the images and the design in just a few seconds. We make a lot of judgments just based on what we see immediately, including whether or not we want to spend more time fully taking in the content that is being offered.

There are two types of design to consider for your content pieces. I’ll call them general design and specific design.

General Design

General design only has to happen once, and it will last for a long time. This could be the design of your website, including your blog pages, your e-newsletter template, or other pieces that you will use over and over. Your overall branding, choice of colors, layout, etc. have a huge impact on the impression people get when they first see it.

If your pieces look professional and have a sense of high quality, people will assume that your business has a lot of value to offer. If, instead, your website or newsletter look crummy and cheap, people will make assumptions based on that as well, and you will likely have a difficult time keeping people around long enough to build relationships with them.

Marketing design is not my area of expertise, but I can tell you that it is worth while investing in good design for the platforms that you will use over and over again. I do design e-mail templates based on already existing brands, and I have seen the difference between those that are well-crafted and exude a level of quality and value, and those that do not.

Specific Design

By this, I mean design components that are specific to a particular piece of content. It could be a post on your blog, or an item in your newsletter. Even though these pieces of content are contained within your general design, you want to have something visual to distinguish them from one another.

If you use only words for a blog post, an offer, even a note, it will not have nearly as powerful an impact as if there is an image with it. The image can grab people’s attention and explain what you are offering or talking about in just a few seconds.

Here are some ideas of how you can use design to improve the impact of your content using specific design:

·      Create an image of your free opt-in offer. Even if you offer a digital item, design an image of a book or case with a cover that helps convey what it is that people will be getting.

·      Use graphics for your articles. Whether you are posting on your blog or including it in your e-newsletter, include a picture that is intriguing and makes people want to read on. It could be a stock image, a picture you took, or even a visual representation of a quote from the article. An added bonus is that you can post that image on your social media sites to promote the content!

·      Create a visual brand for your program or package. While it is obvious that there should be a picture of a physical product you are trying to sell, it is also important to have an image to represent a service-based program or product. Since there is no physical item, it is more like a logo that captures the essence of the program. It will help people understand what it is all about.

·      Take pictures of yourself regularly. This is one of my favorite visual tools because it is specifically about building relationships with people. By including pictures of yourself regularly, people will more quickly establish a connection to you. They don’t have to be professional pictures. In fact, candid photos of you in real-life context are even better for showing a part of yourself that people can relate to. And if they feel connected to you, they will want to read or listen to what you have to say.

Now, take a look at your use of both general and specific design, and pick one thing you can improve today!

 


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