NEW YORK, May 03, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In celebration of National Small Business Month, iStock, a leading e‑commerce platform offering images, videos and illustrations to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprises (SMEs), today unveiled new data-backed tips to help businesses of all sizes enhance their marketing strategies to create lasting connections with customers in today’s volatile economic environment.
According to iStock’s trends and research program, VisualGPS, 94% of people around the world believe that small businesses are necessary for the health of the economy and 91% say that supporting small businesses is critical for a diverse society. While COVID-19 impacts were particularly harsh to small businesses, it spurred many to build an online presence to reach current and prospective customers, turning to technology and social media to supplement their losses.
“Our VisualGPS research shows that 78% of people would rather buy from small, local businesses to support their communities, however search data from iStock reveals that customer searches for terms like ‘shop local’ (-39%), ‘support small business’ (-10%) and ‘small business owner’ (-16%) have decreased compared to 2021,” said iStock’s Chief Product Officer, Grant Farhall. “This disconnect indicates the need for businesses to better visualize how they have adapted to current realities and show how they can serve customers and communities both in-person and online.”
As we kick off National Small Business Month, iStock has pulled together actionable tips backed by real-world data and insights to help businesses of all sizes enhance their visual strategy, maximize their ROI and reach new customers in today’s digital age:
Technology as a benefit to business
As a result of the pandemic, more than half of small businesses bolstered their online presence to increase client interactions. VisualGPS indicates that more than half of small business owners have felt empowered by technology, and this shows in their success. As businesses adapt to changing consumer preferences and learn to reach customers outside of traditional storefronts, it is important that marketing visuals keep up.
The image of a proud small business owner with their arms crossed has been the hallmark of small business visuals. While that still works, it’s also important to visualize beyond that – think of images and videos showcasing customer interactions, a business as a gathering place, ordering products/services on an app, entrepreneurs working from home, a customer paying with a smartphone or a worker taking an order with a tablet. These nuances are critical to reflect and connect with today’s consumers and accurately portray how small businesses are continuously evolving.
Video has a strong influence over people shopping local, with almost a third of consumers saying video content is how they select where to shop or who to do business with. While custom video shoots can be costly, high-quality stock footage is way more affordable, worry-free and can just as easily bring visual storytelling to life — whether it’s for announcing a sale, promoting an event, or adding stories to social channels.
Leverage the power of social media
The rise of TikTok and similar platforms have bombarded consumers with quick bits of information. Engaging content, and particularly video, has become critical to capturing attention. VisualGPS research found that video posts on a brand’s social media pages were a deciding factor in whether or not consumers purchased from a small business. As they’ve evolved, social media platforms have enabled small business owners and entrepreneurs to interact with customers through new video formats like behind-the-scenes tours or product demonstrations.
Social media can be an effective tool for growing brand awareness, but it can also be critical to reaching customers beyond a local community. Through targeted ad spend and organic reach, SMBs have an opportunity to increase awareness while keeping costs low and giving video content a much longer lifespan.
It’s all about the data
Finding the perfect stock image or video isn’t always easy. It often feels simpler to resort to generic content relevant to the largest possible audience. However, data-driven marketing strategies have never been more important. Expanding that mindset to the creative part of your processes is extremely valuable to increase impact and reach. Digital tools including VisualGPS Insights, iStock’s free visual trends tool for SMBs, can be important to fuel the content creation process in an easy way, as well as help with informing and making content decisions based on timely and relevant conversations happening within and outside of your organization.