Un-Stock This: Just Say No to Canned Content

canned content fixesApplause for GraphicStock who recently shared its “20 Photos That Will “Un-Stock” Your Advertising.” The point of the post was to show how valuable it is for marketers to be authentic when fighting for audience attention with the use of interesting and well thought out photography. But it got me thinking: If we’re willing to step outside the limiting confines of over-saturated, awkwardly posed stock images, why wouldn’t we require the same for our content?

You’d think GraphicStock would feel the same way, but based on the imagery which it so generously shared, GS doesn’t care about captions.

Case in point: “Download this quirky photograph of a thinking student in a cap.”

Sure, the goal of this caption holds little weight, because the imagery is the main focus. The words are meant to be merely a description for what the image portrays. But could they not think of anything else? This caption sucks.

canned content fixes

To be fair, most stock imagery doesn’t go to great lengths to think up witty captions.* Because so what? Who cares? In this case, probably no one. But you’d be surprised how many brands forget (or altogether dismiss) aligning all components of their ad campaigns. Meaning, they too may have imagery that might knock your socks off, but it’s paired with ho-hum content or vice-versa.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in digital marketing, a few, thoughtful words could mean thousands of clicks/shares/dollars.

Generic messaging is the antithesis of what you need to succeed. You want your audience to have a reaction to what you’re saying. When you use language like “thinking student in a cap” it appeals to exactly no one. Is that what you want for your campaign?

Changing the content means changing the story to fit your brand. For example, this one image can be used to translate messaging across several industries. Let’s look at four top categories to see how a few words can make all the difference.

Industry: Entertainment

Caption: Student by day. Rock star by night.

Both the original caption and this one use fairly basic language, while still providing a description of the picture, but now there’s a story. Who is this girl in the cap? Someone with a super cool alter ego who’s thinking about how to rock your world, that’s who.

Industry: Hospitality

Caption: Join Giselle for children’s story hour from 5-6 p.m. in the lobby!

Not only does thinking student in a cap now have a name, but she’s reading books in the lobby as one of the perks to staying at her hotel. Sign us up!

Industry: Fitness/Health

Caption: If I ate pizza for lunch, how much time would I have to spend on the treadmill to work it off?

We’ve made thinking student relatable by giving her a fitness conundrum we can all relate to.

Industry: Education

Caption: Get a free thinking cap when you enroll in classes.

Who doesn’t like a free gift for signing up? By adding an adjective here and a situation there, you’ve got a bonafide call-to-action.

No one is saying these changed captions make for compelling ad copy, but it shows how the power of a few words can spin the narrative across four completely different industries using only one “un-stock” photo.

Pretty cool, huh?

Think about if you had entire creative and content marketing teams at your disposal who put actual expertise, research, and refinement behind these ideas and spun your imagery and bland copy into marketing gold. Find out how the magic happens by contacting us today.

*Disclaimer: Stock imagery captions are created to make it easier for creative types to find awful stock photos. Hence searching, “old man on single speed bicycle in the city wearing clown makeup” means you know exactly what to expect with your search results.

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