Tamara caught up with Marc Herman, Co-Founder of Another Blank Page, Coast Comm's graphics and web partners, to talk trends and best practices. Read their conversation below.
Tamara: You and I both LOVE to do newsletters. What is so appealing to you about them?
Marc: Newsletters are an extremely powerful way to communicate with our consumers and clients. As part of a communication strategy and content plan they can provide an effective way to update clients on product news, company news and when tied into a campaign allow you to encourage the reader to take specific actions that can lead to greater engagement on your website and ultimately improve conversions.
Tamara: People are scanning more than reading now, especially with the exhaustion of the pandemic and zoom calls. That is why I love good newsletters because they force us to get to the real message and then give us a chance to tell it visually versus relying on text.
Marc: Absolutely, newsletters enable brands to tell an engaging visual story that provides highlights to the reader and a snapshot of your key messages that can be consumed in bite size content.
Tamara: Newsletters have to have a value add because you are taking up real estate in an inbox. We did one all 2 or 3 times a week during the first year of the pandemic, but then pulled back because although people still read and loved them, but we wanted to leave on a high note and not oversaturate. We didn’t want to waste people’s time with something they were now consuming increasingly on their own through media and their own research.
What are some of the things you are seeing clients do that undermines their own success?
Marc: Some clients are looking at individual pieces of collateral and fragmenting their marketing efforts rather than investing in a digital strategy that can provide a cohesive message across all channels.
Tamara: We see that too – it’s the ‘we need a brochure, we need a microsite” school of PR.
Marc: Exactly, of course there will always be a need for one-off marketing collateral but if we take the collaborative approach and work together on a yearly plan we can be more proactive rather than reactive.
Tamara: So, offering the most value means having your external team be part of the communications or marketing strategic planning at the beginning…. Then they can help create a truly integrated plan, with visual and collateral pieces. We often look at where we can help implement SOME of the items over the course of the year, with the client doing other things. Collateral pieces are a great example of where there needs to be a comms or marketing AND a graphics perspective at the front end. This is an evolution from seeing “graphics” as an afterthought.
Marc: Absolutely we want to be an extension to our client’s team and partners so we can provide those key insights at the start of the project and throughout.
Tamara: What are some trends you are seeing with visual story telling?
Marc: A main trend is, as expected during the pandemic, to drop print all together.
Tamara: Heresy! But I agree – do you think it will come back?
Marc: I really don’t. Digital is just too good. Who wants to read a 45-page annual report, or even flip through it, just to read the part you are interested in. Digital lets you integrate video, validation, links – and if you have a trade show post pandemic, put out some cheap tablets and let people explore your report themselves.
Marc: OK – switching it up with a question from me. What do you think is a trend with corporate clients and how can it effect visual storytelling?
Tamara: Our corporate comms clients are really seeing environmental, social and governance (ESG) become a driver of their business, not just a catch phrase. I think this means visual story telling is even more important because it is more accessible, and it allows a variety of perspectives versus the old-school “I’m going to tell you what I think you should know” approach to PR.
ESG means we need to have multiple points of view (also a great reason to bring in consultants, BTW), and we need to see things beyond ourselves when we are communicating. And the link between what we say/do and how our audiences are responding is closer now, which means more accountability from those audiences.
Marc: And paper – don’t forget ESG should mean less paper, more digital. And WFH means less space to store all those piles of reports too!
Marc: And user experience (UX) becomes a priority. A good example of this is a client we recently helped become more accessible. They knew their audiences were increasingly online, so they went to a digital annual report/microsite so their clients didn’t have to squint at a PDF on an iPhone.
Tamara: So last advice on making a true digital transformation and move to visual storytelling?
Marc: We need to educate our clients on the key benefits of a digital transformation. Showing them this path can generate a larger ROI than traditional outlets because it gives us the ability to segment audiences and curate engaging and storytelling content.
Tamara: I agree – digital and visual storytelling is baked into what we do at Coast Comms and always will be. Great chat. Let’s do it again soon to see what other things we can learn from one another.
If you want to discuss your visual communications needs including newsletters, websites and collateral with Tamara and Marc, email Tamara at firstname.lastname@example.org.