Comments and observations on business, marketing and life: by Martin Donohoe

Category: Marketing resources

Haven’t I seen you somewhere before … microstock photography

A commonly found microstock image

Something that has just grown and grown in popularity over the past few years has been the use of low-cost stock photography in both online marketing and lots of offline work as well. These so-called ‘microstock‘ sites have grown and multiplied and one of the best known ones is (although seemingly more expensive to use of late).

Whilst using images like these can be a quick and cost-effective route to developing good marketing materials, there is a side effect that any marketer or web designer should bear in mind. I think of it as the ‘haven’t I seen you somewhere before’ effect. The most popular photographers and the models they use seem to appear just about anywhere, take the image shown for example (screen grab of comp image from Istockphoto). I’ve recently seen this model used as the image on a web control panel, a web service site and advertising an opticians in Bradford!

However, the ubiquity of these images can cause unexpected problems. Competitors can use the same model as you (accidentally or deliberately), people might think they’ve already seen your ad (when in fact they’ve seen a similar image) and so on. Plus, it’s just plain annoying to see the same model or image in common use. Take a look at the classified ads in the back of most magazines and odds on, you’ll find the same or very similar stock images being used.

Microstock is cheap, convenient and used correctly, a powerful device. But, don’t fall foul of overexposure!

Don’t forget the basics of (internet) marketing

A 12 month subscription to one of the well-known web marketing resource sites (Marketing Sherpa) came to an end a few weeks ago. Like many similar services, I’d found it useful but not so useful that I felt like renewing my membership – certainly not at the ‘full’ price anyway.

Existing customer = less attention

As I reviewed the value I felt that I’d got from this subscription, I realised that anecdotally at least, the amount of communication from the company had dropped off. This might be coincidental, but maybe not. It is common that so many companies will work very hard to win your business and then virtually ignore you once you’re signed up. I suppose it’s similar to the mobile phone networks who continually entice new customers with great offers and never improve existing customer contracts (although they do seem to do this now).

So first marketing point, maintain strong communications with existing customers, send them the occasional targeted, timely and relevant offer. As it approaches the end of their contract, maybe up the tempo of offers and reminders to get them to resubscribe. Remember build a relationship with your customer.

Hey remember us? We’re about to debit your card…

So having had no communication for seemingly a long time, an email arrives saying that to keep the same great service, we’ll debit your card for $xxx in 7 days – it’s great value. Maybe it is great value, but this process certainly wasn’t making me the customer feel valued.

Second marketing point, don’t take existing customers for granted or feel that they don’t need an offer or some other value.

Customer retention

I emailed the customer service team to say “thanks but no thanks” fully expecting that I’d get perhaps an inducement to stay, at the very least a ‘hey we’re sorry you want to leave’ message and an invitation to complete some sort of survey. What actually got was a one liner email “your subscription will not be renewed”. Concise? Yes. Blunt? Yes. The cutting edge of internet marketing in 2009? No!

Third marketing point, when you’re about to lose a customer at least try to win them back and failing that learn something from them by asking them why they are leaving and what you could do better and or differently.

Fourth and most important marketing point. Your company is your brand and needs to behave like it. If you are an internet marketing information source – you probably want to have the sharpest marketing and customer service that you can possibly have!

Perhaps it’s now time to give Marketing Profs or Econsultancy a try!

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