Picture It, The Right Photo When You Need It

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Photos are an important element for B2B marketing such as content, social media, websites, and presentations. Photos and images add visual interest, understanding and engagement whether it’s white papers and case studies or literature, blogs, and web pages. For example, according to Buffer Social, adding a photo to a tweet boosts retweets by 150%. We are visual creatures. In fact it’s been shown that three days after hearing a piece of information a person can only recall 10%, but add a picture and their recall is 65%.

However, B2B marketing teams struggle to ensure photo assets reflect their brand and messaging, are visually engaging, and easy to retrieve and use. Why is this such a challenge and what’s the solution?

Photos are hard to organize

Organizing photos for use by a marketing team is a challenge primarily because, well they’re visual images, not text. Searching for photos is a time consuming process unless you devise a storage system that someone faithfully and accurately associates the appropriate text (tags, categories, etc.) with each image. Trust me, in spite of best intentions, this never happens.

And then there’s always the problem of how to categorize or tag photos for future needs. Invariably you need a photo with say purple in it, but no one thought to create tags with the predominant colors in each photo. It’s hard to think of all the needs you may have for a photo, i.e. by vertical market, with or without people, geography, product/service application, etc. Maybe that saying about “a thousand words” is right!

Challenges beyond organizing photos

In addition to organizing photos, there are other significant issues for managing image assets effectively with such as:

  • Getting customer approval for use of photos they provide or photos your company took at a customer site.
  • Ensuring photos appear with the proper credits.
  • Ensuring the photo represents safe use or delivery of your product or service. For example, making sure people in the photo are using the proper personal protective equipment.
  • Confirming that the photo represents your product or service level properly. This can be especially challenging when your product or service is so technical that a highly knowledgeable eye is required to notice issues.
  • Overall quality, in terms of resolution (high enough for print or only social posts), size, and the composition itself.

Develop a process

Even photos from hired photographers and purchased stock images need internal vetting and proper categorizing. I’ve found it helpful to create internal processes for accepting and storing photos from customers, your own account managers, sales and other field personnel, and even your own photo shoots. Using a process that defines internal vetting and approval, appropriate categories and tags,  associated credits, quality, and any usage restrictions goes a long way to being able to efficiently find and use the photos later.

It’s never fun to put something out there and then hear from a sales person, safety manager, or worse yet, a customer, that there’s a problem with using the photo.

 Solutions most teams try

Most marketing teams try various ways to manage their photo assets from specialty photo libraries, Windows filing systems, intranets, and other systems that enable categorizing and tagging, searching, and easily sharing among dispersed teams. 46820131 - dam digital asset management organization conceptSince most B2B marketing assets are digital now, there are numerous digital asset management (DAM) systems available that can house images. But I’ve decided there’s a reason these are called “DAM” systems – you still have to properly vet and organize using tags and keywords that will be meaningful. Plus for smaller organizations, the costs can be prohibitive. And getting budget approved for these systems can be a challenge since the wasted time searching for images is hard to quantify.

Image recognition technology is advancing rapidly

Post a photo to Facebook and its facial recognition will suggest friends in the photo so you can tag them. Google Photos already enables searches by keywords of objects, places and things it recognizes. For example, I can search for cats and it will find all of my photos of cats. (In the interest of full disclosure I’m a huge fan of Google and use it for all of my business needs from email (Gmail) to cell service (Project Fi), calendar, and cloud file storage.) I just read an interesting article about Google’s recent I/O Developer’s conference where Google announced upcoming changes to many products including Google Photos and introduced its vision-based artificial intelligence tool Google Lens. Together these Google tools enable visual searching. For example, using your smartphone camera to add contacts from a photo of a business card, get reviews by aiming the camera at a restaurant sign, or identify a flower.

Will Google Photos be the answer?

DigitalEyeKeyboardsmUsing Google’s extensive search knowledge and machine learning, these tools learn what’s in your photos and can easily serve it up to you when needed. Maybe this will be the holy grail of photo storage and retrieval for marketing teams of the future! Yes, you’d still need internal vetting prior to storage, but this could be an efficient and cost effective solution. Am I crazy? What do you think? What tool is your team using successfully for photo asset management?

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