Is Visual Selling the Next Big Thing in Marketing?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the marketing world sure has adopted this philosophy wholesale. As marketing shifts more and more into the digital sphere, reps can’t just rely on their presence and compelling speech to clinch a deal. Instead, much of marketing is turning to visual selling as an answer for the digital age, combining ideas, words and images to craft compelling messages on-screen.

visual selling ideas

Sales is an industry that is always in flux, but today’s environment feels like it’s constantly in a state of change. More and more transactions happen in the digital environment, and buyers themselves have changed over the last few years. They’re more informed, so they already know what they actually want; they’re also less likely to engage with sellers early in the buying process. It’s not just the product that matters to these consumers, either—they’re likely to research not just the offering, but also the company behind the brand.

Sellers are scrambling to catch up with these changes in the marketplace. The brand that can figure out what makes these buyers tick—positioning themselves as solution-providers and letting buyers do the driving—are poised to succeed. Techniques like visual selling can help these vendors corner the new, tech-savvy market.

Sometimes, Words Are Not Enough

Today’s shoppers are always in a hurry, so salespeople have a limited window to make their move. Prospective clients have also already done their homework before reaching out to a sales agent. What they want to know at this stage is if they can connect with a seller and create an authentic and meaningful partnership.

In this hyper-quick, hyper-personal way of doing business, words alone might not convey the complete message.  Visual selling helps sellers provide a more complete picture of the solutions being offered—in a short, snappy and authentic way.

Why is Visual Selling Popular?

Humans are by nature, visual creatures. Social media platforms get this: that’s why TikTok, Instagram and the like retain such popularity. Engaging images and videos are far more likely to go viral than long essays. Why? Because visuals break information into smaller, manageable pieces that the brain can follow more closely.

visual selling is popular

There’s Science Behind It

What makes images and video easier to process than text? Dr. Allan Paivio proposes that it hinges on a dual-coding theory. According to Paivio, while the brain has adapted to process words, it gives equal weight to how it codes both verbal and non-verbal symbols (words and images, respectively). Written words, which serve as associative links to those non-verbal images, fail to achieve this dual-coding. They’re tied more with the speech than with the object described. Images, on the other hand, deliver “the thing itself”—which, when paired with speech, can help people remember better.

The research bears out his theory. In studies that asked individuals to compare the “roundness” of an object, participants performed best when given picture-picture pairs of objects, and worst when given word-word pairs.

Picture Superiority

Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Corporate Visions, agrees that images serve as far better instructors than words. He refers to a “picture superiority” phenomenon, in which adding images seems to help people retain information better.  Riesterer explains that “people will only remember about 10% of what you say just two days after you say it, but if you attach what you say to a simple concrete visual that represents what you say, people will remember 65%.”

For everyday proof, consider the popularity of infographics. Instead of explaining a series of bullet points or wading through paragraphs, a single well-crafted infographic can convey the message faster. People seem to retain the information longer as well. Picture superiority is also one of the reasons why in the social media era, market trends seem to gravitate toward short videos over any other medium. This explains the popularity of TikTok posts, Instagram reels and Facebook stories.

How Visual Selling Works

Visual selling leverages Paivio’s dual-coding principle to help sales representatives’ pitches stand out and stick with viewers longer. The practice works on multiple levels. Of course, the key tool in any visual selling strategy remains the presentation. Sharing an idea or offering a solution entails building a visual-rich presentation, one that uses carefully-selected images to not only support ideas but also promote authenticity. In particular, the strategy prizes user-generated content that users process as original and relatable.

However, this is just part of the overall experience. From the images in the presentation to the venue to the presenter themselves, everything the viewer can see bears consideration. Every element adds—or takes away from—a carefully curated display for the potential buyer.

This starts with a more traditional presentation, but the concept extends across online web pages and marketing materials distributed to clients as well. Your entire presentation should deliver a consistently engaging message. Visuals must be selected carefully, so that they add to the conversation, not detract from or muddy it.

Visual selling requires an awareness of the entire package’s aesthetics, from the collateral to the delivery to the venue. It prizes authenticity, consistency and originality in order to dispel audience doubts and promote trust.

Using Visuals Makes Your Brand Stand Out

Visual selling hinges on clear, communicative imagery. Consistent application can help build brand recognition, captivate your target audience and present a clear, unified message. Whether for your website, social posts, an individual presentation or marketing collateral, the choice of images is one of the most critical considerations. A well- or poorly-placed image can make or break your campaign.

how visual selling works

The COVID-19 pandemic severely limited opportunities for salespeople to interact face-to-face with buyers. Accordingly, sales teams have leaned into online marketing materials, presentations and social media posts to reinforce their brand messages. But you need to do so with compelling content. Relying on stock photos or low-quality images can turn off clients who expect better.  Buyers might interpret these lackluster efforts as either a sign of overconfidence or outright laziness.

On the other hand, using high-quality images, video, animation and even virtual reality advertises an eagerness to connect. Additionally, selecting images that resonate with the audience gives them the confidence to engage in the brand’s community.

Visual Selling Leverages User-Generated Content

This practice of visual selling to build authenticity goes hand-in-hand with user-generated content (UGC). When deciding to trust a company or a brand, buyers prize peer recommendations and product reviews over overt sales-oriented content. In fact, 2021 marked a new high in customers checking user reviews before buying a product or using a service. According to BrightLocal’s 2022 Consumer Review Survey, 77% of survey respondents checked product reviews before making a purchase decision. In a separate Podium survey, 93% of users surveyed said that online reviews by fellow users influenced their decision to purchase a product.

Instead of using photos from model product shoots, companies generate better results by displaying content shared by users themselves. Pictures of actual users read as more authentic, compared to paid endorsements or floating product shots without context. A recent Stackla survey showed that users find UGC (User Generated Content) the most authentic means of gaining trust from potential buyers. Four in five survey respondents said that UGC highly impacts their buying decisions. In contrast, only 19% trusted branded content.

eCommerce Visuals Can Make or Break Your Shop

When looking for ways to enhance your eCommerce site, strategically-placed visual content can help sustain customer interest. Look for compelling, flattering imagery that can capture the attention of casual visitors. After all, as one Nielsen Norman Group survey found, while most site visitors will stop to view images, only 20% bother to read the accompanying text. Given the flighty nature of online buyers, choosing just the right image is critical.

Developing strategic visual content helps viewers align brand attributes with what customers are looking for, and can be the final push that gets hesitant visitors to click that “Buy” button. In fact, an effective image strategy can increase the average user’s time on the site, enhance overall customer experience, increase average order values and improve conversion rates.

If you need yet another reason to focus on visual selling, consider the fact that more and more users now use their mobile phones to shop online. The smaller screen discourages reading text, which means that many smartphone users will just rely on images to make their decision whether to stay or go. Eye-catching, brand-relevant images can influence visitors to linger for a few more minutes—maybe long enough to seal the deal.

visual selling and video

Video in Sales Is Here To Stay

Advances in network and broadband technology have increased the popularity of online videos. It also helps that most modern smartphones can shoot high-quality videos without the need for additional equipment-making for an untapped wealth of user-generated video content just waiting for an audience. eCommerce businesses can find embedded video useful in keeping site visitors engaged.

When it comes to plotting video content, remember the earlier data about UGC. User-generated video runs circles around other types of video content. YouTube remains the king of UGC as far as online videos are concerned, and younger generations have shown an overwhelming preference for short social media snippets compared to lengthy videos via streaming services or TV. These younger viewers also say that they were 1.6x more likely to watch a video shot with heart than something well-produced but lifeless.

If an amateur video fueled by passion can generate a huge number of views, imagine what a professionally-shot short video that is also brimming with emotion can do. For companies targeting younger generations—who will eventually age into being the whole market—video isn’t an option. It’s a must.

Visual Sales Presentation Software Is Key To Success

Despite all the obvious benefits, many companies still lag behind on adopting visual selling into their sales strategy. Well-crafted, interactive, custom presentations are a tried and true solution for engaging audiences—and visual selling is just one more iteration of this principle. Whether it’s web collateral, images for an email campaign or a dazzling digital presentation, having a high-powered, forward-thinking presentation software like Ingage can help your delivery shine.

So what should you look for in presentation software to up your visual selling game? First off, interactivity is key. Your platform should readily accept not just simple text and photos, but also embed video and pop-up screens to other sites as needed. Custom controls such as interactive buttons to display hidden sections, enlarge images, highlight text or play audio or video further stimulate audiences while keeping your overall presentation tight.

visual selling is key to success

Non-linearity is another advantageous offering to look for. Viewers may want to go back and forth between sections; perhaps a previous image caught their eye and they want to explore more or re-digest. Rather than clicking back 20 slides or having to off-road to do their own research, non-linear structures and pop-ups allow viewers to explore to their heart’s content. Detailed built-in analytics can help you track these movements as well, so you learn what to beef up for viewers and what to trim.

Finally, you want your presentation software to have access to the digital cloud, for easy access and sharing. This allows users to open and edit presentation files anytime, anywhere. Cloud access also means that team members can collaborate and assist in presentation building no matter their physical location, and send it to clients to peruse at their leisure.

Visual Selling Is Here, Are You?

In a fast-paced digital world where consumers don’t have time to sit through long presentations, are your sales representatives ready to adapt to a more visual mode of sales? It’s time to equip your team with tools that can actually take advantage of the benefits of visual selling. With the right presentation software, you can highlight your brand’s strengths and share solutions as you tell your story with engaging and interactive content.

Ingage is a cloud-based, interactive presentation software that helps you and your sales team make an impact. After all, a pitch is only as strong as the tools you use to deliver it. Ingage enhances your team’s natural storytelling abilities and lets your marketing content shine. Are you ready to level up your team for the age of visual selling? Reach out for a free demo today and see how Ingage can power your sales team into the future.

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