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Attracting the attention of your audience with your marketing collateral is difficult, to say nothing of how hard actually keeping it can be. It’s one of the reasons why visual communication has become so essential in the modern era: a picture (and by association, something like an Infographic) is much more likely to catch someone’s attention as they browse the Web or scroll through their news feed. So long as you’ve got a compelling narrative at the heart of it all, you’re in great shape moving forward.

However, it’s important not to underestimate just how important that “compelling narrative” really is. People don’t like Infographics and presentations simply because they’re visual – they like the way they take rich and complicated ideas and distill them down into a format that is easier to digest.

But if those ideas aren’t rich in the first place, even the prettiest picture in the world isn’t going to save you. Likewise, if your Infographic is hard to follow because it lacks essential context, you’re not going to get anywhere near the results you were after.

Striking That Balance:

Because of this, one of your primary goals whenever you create a new piece of collateral should involve finding the balance between visual communication and relying on words. Both are powerful tools that, when used properly and judiciously, can add up to something much more effective than either one could be on its own.

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Consider for a moment the fact that about 55% of people who read something like a blog post will do so for 15 seconds or less – barely enough time to make it past the headline, let alone the first few paragraphs.

To make matters worse, one company recently conducted a study of their own content and discovered that only about 10% to 20% of their readers were actually making it to the bottom of their posts.

But this doesn’t mean you should give up on words altogether. Far from it. It just means that you need to start building and thoughtfully designing content with these types of stats in mind.

Use the Tools That Your Story Demands:

As we’ve written numerous times in the past, at the heart of every quality piece of marketing collateral is a good story. That quality narrative is the thing that grabs people’s attention and keeps them motivated to finish your content. It’s also the thing you should let guide you as you find the perfect balance between visual communication and relying on words.

Whenever possible, try to use an introductory paragraph or two to set the stage for a piece of content like an Infographic. Don’t just create the text version of the post someone is about to view – otherwise, you’re really just quickly telling them “the rest of this isn’t worth your time and you’re free to stop reading whenever you’d like.”

Instead, think of the opening paragraph as the beginning of your story. This is the part where you offer up your thesis statement in enough context for someone to both understand it and understand why it is important.

Then, transition into the Infographic as you normally would – but remain mindful of that necessary context throughout. Keep in mind that nobody is as familiar with your business as you are, which means that not everyone will immediately feel compelled and energized by a visualized piece of data just because you told them to.

If a stat or a number in an Infographic absolutely stands on its own, don’t be afraid to allow it to do so. But if a particular point isn’t clear, or is important enough to demand further explanation, don’t be afraid to do that, either.

It can be helpful to “test” your content out on a small segment of your audience, or even on friends or family members, before it goes live. During this stage, focus less on design and more on emotional impact.

Were people able to understand what you were talking about? When they got to the end, did they agree with you that this was a topic worth covering in the first place? Why or why not? Did you have too many words? Too few words? Was your narrative lost in the shuffle?

Let the answers to all of these questions dictate the shape that your “second draft” takes.

In the End:

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. While that certainly may be true in terms of visual communication and the types of marketing collateral that you’re putting out into the world, you need to work hard to strike a balance between the two.

Everything requires context – something that you naturally have that your audience does not. You may think that the image heavy Infographic you just created with a tool like Visme (full disclosure: I’m a founder) works well on its own, but does the larger narrative actually track if you’re not intimately familiar with your business?

At the same time, people are natural skimmers – it’s part of what makes visual communication so effective in the first place. If you include too many words, you might be undoing all of the “good will” that you generated by creating that presentation or Infographic in the first place.

Consider what you’re creating carefully on a point-by-point basis. If you can get away with expressing a thought or idea as a picture, always do so. But if it really feels like you can’t – like you need explanation or something more – don’t be afraid to provide that paragraph of “narration” to really sell something in a much more effective way.

It’s a balance, to be sure – but it’s one worth making as it will lead you to creating stronger, more rewarding marketing collateral moving forward. Remember that your job isn’t just to convey information. It’s to make information beautiful in any way that you can.

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