Our Blog

Check out our insights into the world of media and marketing, along with project spotlights, featured blogs from our client pages and other musings on how to optimize brand recognition in today’s technologically-driven environment.

6 Scary Stories of Marketing

Spooky season, meet spooky week. It’s officially the last full week of October, which means it’s time to embrace Halloween in all its spine-tingling glory. Since it’s the one time of year we can acceptably write about things that are scary without getting weird looks, here we are to tell you some scary stories of marketing. You may want to leave the lights on for this one!

“The Tale of the Low-Res Logo”

Low-resolution—avert your eyes! This unsightly offender will make your branding scare off even the bravest of consumers. And a screenshot of your logo? Don’t even go there!

Make it a point to keep a suite of high-resolution logo files in various formats on hand, whether you use an in-house designer or outsource to an agency like us!

“The Spectral Social Media Presence”

Knock-knock…is anyone home? Don’t let this be someone’s first thought when visiting your social media pages! If your brand’s last post was in 2018, consider yourself a ghost on social media. Spooky!

“The Cobweb-Covered Website”

A similar one among our scary stories of marketing is the cobweb-covered website. Think about entering a haunted house, decorated with dust, cobwebs and tarp-covered furniture. Not a place you want to hang out! Your website shouldn’t echo this ghastly scene. If your web structure is bare bones, or you just haven’t updated in a while, no one will want to come-a-knockin’.

“The Case of the Disappearing Passwords”

Locked out of your social media accounts or other digital assets? No bones about it, that’s pretty chilling! If your passwords have up and vanished (from your brain or elsewhere), it may be time to get on board with a password manager.

“The Chillingly-Inconsistent Branding”

You’re using your original logo on your mailers, but your new logo on your website. The red on your business cards does not match the red on your brochures. And your tagline has quotes around it on some marketing materials but not others. The horror!

Inconsistent branding makes people feel uneasy. Keep trust associated with your brand by keeping things cohesive!

“The Story of the Ghosted Marketing Agency”

We’ve saved perhaps the most terrifying of our scary stories of marketing for last. Your marketing agency is here to help—and that only works with active communication between both parties. In other words, don’t ghost your marketing agency!  Leaving your agency in the dark as to what’s going on with your business will put a devilish damper on your marketing efforts.

Summary

Yes, we know—these are some seriously-spooky tales. But marketing doesn’t have to be scary! In fact, seeing marketing efforts work the way they are intended should be positively thrilling. Let us help! Oh yeah, and Happy Halloween.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

A Guide to Categorizing Your Instagram Stories Highlights

Instagram stories are known for their fleeting nature. There is a function, however, that allows users to preserve and showcase their stories content. The stories highlights feature on Instagram gives stories content a place to live beyond its 24-hour posting window. Categorizing your Instagram stories highlights is a way to organize this content to make it more consumable for those interacting with your page.

A closer look at stories highlights

Instagram first introduced its stories highlights and stories archive features in December 2017. Private to the profile owner, the stories archive is a space that automatically saves stories content to be retrievable at any point in time.

Stories highlights does the same; however, the difference is, highlights are not meant to be private. In fact, they are on display as a public feature of an Instagram user’s profile.  They appear below the bio of an Instagram profile but above the feed. Each “circle” is a different highlights category, and a user can make as many highlights categories as they want (more on that in a minute).

 

On the example above from our profile, the stories highlights are the circles labeled “The Blogs,” “The Clients,” “The Services,” “The Office,” and so on.

Creating a highlights category

To create a highlights category, make sure you are logged into your Instagram account and are looking at your own profile, and click the circle with the plus sign labeled “New.” From there, you’ll open up your private stories archive, and you’ll be able to select the content you want to assign to the new category. You’ll be prompted to assign a name to the category and select a cover photo for the category, which is the image that will appear in the circle on your profile (until you remove it or assign another cover image). Note that a category name is limited to a maximum of 15 characters.

Once a highlights category is created, you’ll be able to add new stories content to it in real time as you actively post (rather than having to select from the archive).

Categorizing your Instagram stories highlights for marketing

So, about these categories. How many categories should you make? And what should they be titled? The answers will be different for every business; however, thinking about it from a marketing perspective can help.

Categorizing your Instagram stories highlights is a means for you to guide page followers to the information you want them to know about your brand. Think about each category as its own section of marketing content. For a brand, helpful stories highlights categories could be:

  • Products/services
  • Our staff/employee spotlights
  • Company culture/about us/mission statement
  • Around the office
  • Portfolio/our work
  • Testimonials
  • Blogs (if you have one)

Of course, these are very general categories to use as a starting point. Categories can and should vary depending on your business and industry. For example, if you’re a restaurant, your categories might include things like “Daily Specials,” “From the Bar,” etc.

A few quick tips

We’ve thrown a lot of information at you, so we’ll wrap it up with a few quick tips for managing your stories highlights.

  • Keep your categories broad and versatile. Though you can make as many highlights categories as you want, too many can be overwhelming for people interacting with your page.
  • Create an aesthetic with your highlight graphics. Treat your highlights cover graphics as a work of art! Create branded covers that coincide with the rest of your brand aesthetic.
  • Add to highlights consistently. Don’t forget—after you create your categories, add content to them on a regular basis! After all, sharing fresh, relevant content is the cornerstone of social media marketing. Note: You can only add up to 100 photos or videos to a stories highlights category.

Summary

Categorizing your Instagram stories highlights is a way to organize your brand’s content to make it more palatable for people engaging with your page. It also provides yet another avenue for potential customers to learn about your business in hopes of prompting them to establish a connection with you.

As always, it’s our pleasure to help if you’d rather let us handle your stories highlights!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Curating Local Content: Community News as a Marketing Strategy

When you think about marketing content for your brand, what comes to mind? Explaining the benefits of your product or service. Sharing useful information about your company. Advertising promotions and special offers. All of these are a given, but here’s a content category that may not be on your radar: community content. Did you know that being a resource for local happenings can benefit you from a marketing standpoint? Using community news as a marketing strategy not only generates appeal for your brand by presenting you as a resource in your area, but it can also drive traffic to your website and other digital assets.

Why it works

Put simply, people like to know what’s going on in the world around them. On social media especially, they are always looking for reliable, timely sources of information. Therefore, positioning your brand as a resource that people go to for local knowledge can be a smart move for small businesses. Again, the benefits are two-fold:

  • Generating a sense of trust and positive association with your brand
  • Creating more opportunity for engagement and traffic across your digital platforms

Examples of using community news as a marketing strategy

It may help for us to paint a better picture of what we’re talking about when describing “community news.” From posting about upcoming local events to sharing city updates, using community news as a marketing strategy gives you a wealth of content to draw from. Here are a few general categories:

  • Local events (fundraisers, festivals, parades, downtown events)
  • Municipal updates (upcoming meetings, change in trash/recycling schedule, road closures, new capital projects)
  • New businesses opening (restaurants, entertainment, industry)
  • And beyond!

How to implement

Sharing/creating community content from your brand’s marketing channels can be easy with the help of social media as your main focus. Your involvement can range from maintaining a regular blog and sharing it to your social channels, to simply resharing a post from your local chamber of commerce or tourism board.

For example, we maintain and create content for blogs for a client of ours comprised of several apartment complexes. Our blog entries for this client range from local events to local news to new businesses in each complex’s respective geographic area. We have seen these local-interest blogs consistently be successful at generating engagement and traffic.

Again—you don’t have to run a full-blown blog to use community news as a marketing strategy, however. Posting links to informative news articles on your branded social pages and re-sharing existing social posts from other organizations can be just as effective.

Summary

Community involvement is a small business’ bread and butter—and thus that should reflect in your marketing efforts if you are one! Consider using community news as a marketing strategy to establish yourself as a local resource in an effort to build a brand following.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Marketing Defined: Keyword Stuffing and Why You Shouldn’t Do It

When you say “stuffing” around this time of year you might think of a big juicy turkey sitting on a dining room table. The stuffing we’re talking about today is not the edible kind, however—though it may also be less-than-ideal for your (SEO) health. Keyword stuffing is a no-no when it comes to SEO, and we’re here to tell you why.

What is keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of packing a web page with keywords in an attempt to rank for them in search. You might be thinking, “But I thought we were supposed to include keywords in our digital content to try to help it rank highly in search?” Yes, that’s true; however, keyword stuffing takes that concept to an extreme level. It typically involves packing a page with keywords to the point that the copy reads as awkward or unnatural, which ultimately results in a bad user experience.

Examples of keyword stuffing

Here are a few examples:

  • Repeating words or phrases unnecessarily
  • Including words that are out of context or irrelevant to what is being stated
  • Adding random blocks of text that do not flow naturally with the rest of the copy
  • Physically hiding copy from viewers by repeating text in the page’s code or making it the same color as the page’s background

A quick note on keyword density

Another related term here is keyword density. Keyword density is the number of words on a page divided by the number of times a keyword appears on a page.

If the keyword density is too high, search engines can flag your page, resulting in hindered SEO efforts.

Why is it bad for SEO?

Now let’s explain the “Why You Shouldn’t Do It” part of this blog’s title. If you can’t tell by the examples above, keyword stuffing is just plain sneaky! Not to mention, it creates a negative experience for your page visitors. If your audience members don’t like what they see, they likely won’t return to your page or recommend it to others.

In addition, search engines can actually penalize your page for using tactics like these, which defeats the concept of SEO in the first place.

What should you do instead?

Instead of stuffing your webpage unnaturally with keywords, try a few of these best practices.

  • Keep keyword density below 2%.
  • Choose relevant keywords.
  • Include at least 300 words per page.
  • Use primary and secondary keywords.
  • Employ a plug-in like Yoast to check your SEO efforts.

Summary

If you think keyword stuffing will help you on your SEO journey, think again. Not only can it actually hurt your chances of having your content rank highly in search, but also it is unappealing for visitors to your web pages.

Need help employing those best practices instead? We’re here for you!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

6 Quick Tips for Writing Your Google My Business Description

Last week we talked about the importance of updating your Google My Business listing—and the signs that it’s time to do so. Now it’s time to focus on one of the often-neglected components of your listing: the business description. While many people come to a Google listing for items like address and hours of operation, the description also plays a role in guiding Google users as to whether or not your business is relevant to them. Writing your Google My Business description may seem daunting, but recognizing a few key guidelines can help point you in the right direction.

First, where does the description appear in the listing?

Before getting into the specifics of writing your Google My Business description, it can help to know exactly where people will see it when viewing your listing. The answer is, it depends on whether you are viewing a listing on desktop or mobile. On desktop, the description appears as “From (Company Name)” toward the bottom of what is known as the “Knowledge Pack.” On mobile, you must click the “About” tab to see a business description.

writing your Google My Business descriptionTips for writing your Google My Business description

A Google My Business description is limited to 750 characters. This gives you some wiggle room to make sure you include everything important without overwhelming the user with too much copy. In fact, you likely won’t need all 750 characters to craft an effective description.

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind.

Make it immediately clear what you offer.  

Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point in the first sentence as to what products/services your business offers. This can be in conjunction with other specifics like where you are located and how long you have been in business. For example:

“We are an independently-owned women’s health and fitness center that has been offering personalized workout and nutrition programs in East Alabama for more than 15 years.”

Share what makes you stand out.

When writing your Google My Business description, use this space as an opportunity to share what sets your brand apart from your competitors. Here’s this, straight from the mouth of Google: “Published content should highlight what makes your business unique. You can use this field to provide useful information on services and products offered, as well as the mission and history of your business.”

Avoid sounding salesy.

Your Google My Business description is not the place for sales pitches. In fact, promotions, prices and offers are included in Google’s own list of what NOT to include in your business description.

Don’t include links.

Another item that Google doesn’t allow in its business listing descriptions? URLs or HTML code. In other words—links of any kind. From sales pitches to links, if Google doesn’t like what it sees in your business description, your listing may be flagged.

Employ key phrases (without keyword stuffing.)

Here is where careful word selection comes into play. Be sure to include keywords that are relevant to your brand’s services, location, clientele and more. Keyword stuffing, however, is always a no-no.

Stay relevant.

Make sure the description you craft for your business on Google sticks to accurate, relevant information about your brand and what you are all about. The point here is to be helpful for people viewing your listing—and again, you can get flagged for promoting irrelevant content.

How to edit your Google My Business description

Here’s what to do:

  • Log in to your Google My Business account.
  • Select “Info” on the left-hand menu.
  • Scroll until you see “Add business description.” Click the pencil to edit.
  • You can write your copy directly here, or if you have composed your copy somewhere like Microsoft Word beforehand, copy and paste it here.
  • Click save.

Summary

Your Google My Business description exists to give Googlers a quick, clear view of what your brand is all about—and how it can benefit them. Use these strategies to make sure your description is effectively communicating the information people need to know, all while complying with Google’s guidelines.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

7 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Google My Business Listing

“Hold on, let me Google the address.” Thirty years ago, this may have sounded alien, but now it’s a phrase that largely dictates how we navigate our world. Your Google My Business listing is a consumer’s roadmap (both literally and figuratively) to your business. In other words, it’s today’s Yellow Pages. It’s also important for SEO. Regretfully, many brands neglect this super important connector in their digital marketing strategies. Take it as a sign: next time one of these things happens, it’s time to update your Google My Business listing.

Moved to a new location. 

Relocated your business recently? Great! Don’t forget to update your business address on your Google My Business listing so people can find you.

Business name has changed.

If you’ve rebranded and that included a new business name, update it on your Google business profile. Even if you have not rebranded, do a double check that your existing business name is accurate and/or reflects exactly what you want it to say. For example, do you want to be “McNutt & Partners” or “McNutt & Partners, LLC”?

Hours are not accurate.

A business’ hours of operation are, in addition to location, one of the most commonly-referenced pieces of information on a Google My Business listing. You need to update your Google My Business listing if the hours listed do not reflect the actual days and times you are open.

If this changes seasonally—don’t worry. Updating your hours on Google My Business is quick and easy. You can even add hours for specific services or specials like “senior hours,” “delivery,” “online service hours,” etc.

Web address and/or phone number has changed.

Here’s some more critical contact info on your Google My Business listing: your web address and phone number. If they’ve changed, log in and update them.

Business description needs editing.

Currently, Google My Business gives you 750 characters in which to describe your business on your Google listing. This space gives Googlers a quick idea of what you’re offering. For example, “Chic coffee shop with creative pastry offerings, breakfast sandwiches and outdoor seating.”

If you’ve currently got something on your listing that is inaccurate, or if yours is blank and you need to add a description, it’s time for an update.

Your business has closed.

If your business has closed (especially if it closed on unfavorable or beyond-your-control terms), updating your Google listing may be the last thing on your mind. However, it’s important to do so—especially if the close is only temporary.

You can set your listing to display “temporarily closed” to let people know that you have not closed down for good—and they should check back with you. If your business has permanently closed, using that setting will prevent people from coming to your place of business with expectations that you are open.

You don’t currently have a Google My Business listing.

If you don’t currently have a Google My Business listing, then you don’t have anything to update. But take this as a reminder to create one! It may also be possible that a listing exists for your business, but you do not have ownership of it. Consult Google’s guide for how to request ownership of a Google My Business listing.

There’s more to update—if you want to.

In addition to these signs that you need to update your Google My Business listing, keep in mind that there are many more fields you can fill out on a listing if you want to. These are the most critical for building an effective listing in our opinion, but the more information you can fill out on your profile, the better.

Summary

Putting yourself out there in the digital landscape as a business goes hand-in-hand with having an informative and accurate Google My Business listing. Neglecting this critical digital marketing tool could be the difference between customers interacting with your brand or not.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Keeping Color Consistent: Exploring Pantone Colors for Branding

We may sound like a broken record when it comes to brand consistency—but it truly is one of the most important parts of attracting and maintaining followers. In marketing, the colors you associate your brand with should also stay consistent. If you read last week’s blog about why colors look different on screen vs in print, you might be wondering how that is possible (when dealing with multiple designers or production teams, for example). One way that marketers maintain consistency is by using Pantone colors for branding.

What are Pantone colors?

There are thousands of languages spoken worldwide. However, we only have a handful of standard systems of measurement in use (think the U.S. System vs. the metric system, for example). Why? Because having universal systems of comparison helps everyone be on the same page regardless of other external factors.

Pantone color systems serve the same purpose when it comes to colors. Think about it as a “universal language of color,” a description that comes from Pantone’s own website. Using Pantone colors for branding ensures that all parties involved are employing the exact same color with no discrepancies or variations.

Pantone describes two proprietary color systems: The Pantone Matching System (PMS) and Pantone Fashion, Home + Interiors (FHI) System. For our purposes, we’ll be talking about the PMS.

How are Pantone colors used?

The PMS color library is used for graphics, which are implemented via print, packaging, digital and screen printing (aka marketing materials). This is opposed to the FHI System which applies to textiles, paint, cosmetics and more.

Let’s consider an example. Say you’re printing a brochure, and you want it to match the colors on your business card. You can take the exact Pantone colors that were used on your business card and implement them on the brochure design so you know they will appear the same when printed.

Or, maybe you’re working with a new design team. Instead of them trying to “match” the red used in your logo on a new design, you can tell the team that the red is “Pantone 186.” Pantone 186 is the same color everywhere in this universal matching system, so you know it will be the right one.

Pantone has developed an array of physical swatch guides that you can order to find the colors you need. There’s also Pantone Connect, which gives graphic designers access to digital Pantone colors.

Why are Pantone colors so important?

Using Pantone colors for branding helps maintain and achieve brand consistency. Having a consistent look for your brand instills trust and recognition between your brand and consumers and generates an overall sense of professionalism.

Pantone colors also just make things easier for your graphic designers—and who doesn’t want that?

Summary

Pantone colors exist to help designers speak a universal language when it comes to color choice in branding. Referencing Pantone’s universal library of colors in your marketing design process is a strategy that millions of designers and producers use in their daily work—and for good reason.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Showing Your True Colors: Why Colors Look Different on Screen vs. In Print

We’d like to believe that red is red and blue is blue. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case! Color, as true as we think it to be, is subject to both the environment in which it is being displayed—and to the person viewing it. For example, colors look different on screen vs. in print—but why?

Using color in marketing 

Before we answer that, it can help to visualize where exactly we use color in marketing. The answer: nearly everywhere! Print ads, branded items like T-shirts and bags, digital billboards, website graphics—the list is long.

The important thing to note here is the distinction between color as it appears to a person on a tangible, “real life” object (like a T-shirt or newspaper ad) vs. the way color appears on the screen of a computer monitor, smartphone/tablet, or digital board.

Introducing our friends: CMYK and RGB

You may have seen these combos of letters floating around here and there. But what do they mean? CMYK and RGB are integral to explaining why colors look different on screen vs. in print.

CMYK, which stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, refers to the composition of printer ink. RGB, which stands for red, green and blue, refers to the composition of colors on computer monitors, smartphones/tablets or any other type of digital screen.

CMYK and RGB are actual color settings you (or your ad agency) will apply to your marketing materials when designing them—depending on whether they are intended to be printed or whether they will exist in the digital world.

The science behind it

Say you go to print something that was designed for the screen using RGB. The colors will not appear as vibrant on the print-out version as they did on screen.

The way to combat this is to convert to CMYK before printing. However, even when converting RGB to CMYK first, there will always be a slight variation.

The reason has to do with light vs. ink. Computers use red, green and blue (RGB) light to display colors, while print uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) ink. Colors as emitted by light can never be perfectly reproduced in ink, and vice versa—but your marketing agency can get it as close as possible!

PMS can also help for printing

No, not that type of PMS. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. The printing industry uses this system of standardized colors to help creators and printers all over the world to be on the same page about the way colors will look once they are printed. Regularly using Pantone colors can be key when it comes to maintaining brand consistency.

Screen to screen discrepancies

We’ve established that colors look different on screen vs. in print, but there’s another layer to this. Colors can even look different from one digital device to another—like a computer monitor vs mobile device, for example. This largely has to do with the screen’s resolution—for example, on a mobile device, the screen is smaller than say a laptop, so pixels are limited in the amount of space they have available to occupy.

Keep this in mind if you are sharing an image with another party. If said party says they are seeing a darker blue than you are seeing, for example, the difference in digital device could be the reason.

Summary

When using color in marketing for mediums like print ads, branded items, digital displays and more—we can’t control the fact that color may be interpreted differently from human eye to human eye. However, we can be aware of the way that color varies depending upon where we’re “uploading” it on the front end. Understanding that colors look different on screen vs. in print—and the fact that using RGB and CMYK formats correctly can help this—is key to keeping the quality of your marketing materials top-notch!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Using the Power of Social Media Ads to Grow Your Page Following

At some point, “digital ads” will start being referred to as just “ads,” the same way that “cell phones” are now just “phones.” We’re not there yet, but social media ads that fall into this digital category are something we strongly suggest (or dare we say, deem a requirement) in order to get your brand’s content seen on social media. Using social media ads to grow your page following is one way they can effectively help you get the results you want.

A quick refresher

Social media ads are the ones that appear as “sponsored” across various social media placements. This is in contrast to “organic” content, which users post without any monetary backing.

Sometimes you might hear it referred to as a “boosted” post. This is the same thing as a social media ad—one that you pay to sponsor for a certain time period and to a pre-selected audience that you choose based on factors like location, age, interests and more.

Social media ad objectives

One thing to mention about social media ads, specifically on Facebook, is that they prompt you to identify a campaign objective. In other words, what do you want to accomplish from running this ad?

On Facebook, this ranges from items like brand awareness, traffic, reach, video views, lead generation, conversions and more. With the stats we’re about to share, we’re focusing on an objective that Facebook calls “engagement,” with a specific subcategory of “page likes.”

Let’s look at some numbers

Using social media ads to grow your page following is often the quickest way to build support for your page beyond organic strategies.

The numbers don’t lie. Recently, we ran a campaign for our client, Rhino Wearables. This campaign was comprised of six ads between July 17th, 2021 and August 17th, 2021.

On July 17th, 2021, when the campaign started, the Rhino Wearables Facebook page had 148 page likes.

On August 17th, 2021, when the campaign ended, the page had 857 page likes.

Then, when we checked on August 25th, 2021 (after the campaign had ended), the page had 1,238 page likes.

That folks, is evidence that using social media ads to grow your page following actually works!

Ads can work for any budget

So, paid social ads work, but how much do you have to spend on them to get results? As with many things in this world, the more you invest into social ads, the farther your reach is going to extend across the social media landscape. However, we work with clients with all kinds of monthly budgets for social ads—from as low as $25 for one ad per month, up into the thousands per month spent across multiple ads in a campaign.

Our philosophy is, spending at least something on paid social ads even once per month is better than relying solely on organic means to grow your page (which we know is subject to Facebook’s ever-elusive algorithm limitations).

Summary

If you’ve dabbled with the idea of paid social media ads but haven’t pulled the trigger, take this as a sign! Using social media ads to grow your page following works—and we’re here to help you every step of the way!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

10 Tips for Taking Marketing Photos on Your Smartphone

We all want great photos for our brand websites and social media feeds. A common misconception in our industry is that striking marketing photos can only come from full-blown photoshoots complete with fancy equipment and an expensive photographer. Not true! While a professional photoshoot will produce great results, it’s not always feasible due to time and budget constraints. Enter the smartphone. Taking marketing photos on your smartphone is an easy way to get into a consistent content-creating routine.

The smartphone as a photography tool

You text on it. You make lists on it and you even set alarms on it. And sure, you take pictures of your pets and kids on it. But you might not immediately think “marketing tool” in reference to your smartphone. Think again!

At the risk of dating this material, our smartphones are more photography-capable than they have ever been before—and that trend is poised to keep getting better. In other words, the quality of photos your trusty tech sidekick can capture is more-than-sufficient for marketing platforms like social media, your website, and even some print materials.

Tips for taking marketing photos on your smartphone

Focus, focus, focus.

First, select your subject! A product, your staff at an event, a beautiful day outside your office—your subject can be any number of things. Just remember what/who you’re focusing on before you to go compose a shot.

Focus also applies to your subject/photo being in-focus. A simple tap on your subject on the lens of your smartphone should bring it into focus for the shot.

Know your background. 

We’ve talked subject. Now let’s talk backgrounds. Depending on the type of photo you are taking, you may be capturing an already-existing background (think candid shots) or you might be staging a background (product shots or headshots).

Your smartphone is obviously great for capturing candid action on the fly—so look for creative—yet simple—backgrounds in that instance. If you’re creating your own backdrops, we suggest shooting on solid white, as it reflects natural light onto the product creating more even lighting. You can use white poster board and tape, or even a white sheet (just beware of wrinkles).

Find your lighting.

Speaking of lighting, photography and lighting go hand-in-hand. Lighting can make or break your shot! Luckily, smartphones are programmed to automatically find that light in most cases. You can help it along by taking advantage of natural light when it’s available.

Some may opt to use artificial light sources, like ring lights, to give their photos that extra boost. Whichever way you find your light, just remember—flash is not your friend! The flash of a smartphone camera can create jarring shadows and make your subject appear unnatural.

Shoot horizontally.

When taking marketing photos on your smartphone, it is best as a rule of thumb to shoot horizontally (especially if you’re an amateur). Most social media platforms (with the exception of ones like Snapchat) favor horizontal image formats. Horizontal photos also generally capture more of a setting and give you a larger canvas to better-utilize the rule of thirds (more on that in a minute).

Either way, if you need to switch the format of your photo for whatever reason, it’s much easier to crop a horizontal photo into a vertical one than a vertical photo into a horizontal one.

Never zoom!

If you’re far away from your subject, or you’re just trying to get a detail shot, you might be tempted to use the zoom feature on your smartphone for a photo. Resist the urge! Zooming diminishes the quality of your photo. Instead, move physically closer to your subject. If that’s not possible, take the shot of the subject from afar, and then zoom and crop when editing.

Remember the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is a basic photography principle that suggests visually dividing up your photos into thirds (on either a literal or mental grid, both horizontally and vertically) to create a more balanced composition. Points of interest should fall at the points where the grid intersects.

Use a mini tripod. 

Accessories are our friends! While your smartphone alone is sufficient enough to take great marketing photos, an added tool, like a mini tripod, only serves to help. This one in particular can be useful (and is recommended) if you’re taking still product photos, as it will stabilize the camera and let you better control the consistency of your camera placement and angles.

Get to know your smartphone’s tools.

It’s called a smartphone for a reason. These trusty friends have a plethora of tools to help our photos look even better—from the actual shooting to the editing. Play around with the tools in your phone’s camera app to see what might be useful for taking marketing photos. From offering various modes to specific camera settings—you’ll be surprised at what your smartphone is capable of.

Always upload the original file.

 We cannot stress this enough. Always, always, always upload the original image file (directly from your phone) when collecting the images you want to use. Whether you upload a photo directly to social media or to put in a folder for later use, maintaining the original file ensures that its quality is kept intact. A screenshot sent through a text and then attached to an email, for example, is going to compromise the original quality of your photos.

Choose a consistent edit style.

You took the photos. Now what? If you follow our blog, you know that we always stress the importance of brand consistency. This comes into play when considering the way you will edit your smartphone photos. We suggest choosing a consistent edit style—and sticking with it. For example, maybe there’s a certain filter that you like to use on all of your photos. Don’t have time to edit? Send them to your agency—like us—to do the finishing touches!

Summary

Alright, we’ve thrown a lot at you. But taking marketing photos on your smartphone shouldn’t be overwhelming! It’s the quicker, easier solution to capturing the real time content that you need to adequately showcase your brand and its products/services. And as always, if you don’t have time—we’re happy to help!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.