Are Graphics Saying The Wrong Thing

By Justin Hitt, Professional Industrial Copywriter

Likely turning in his grave, Claude Hopkin's would be dismayed by today's haphazard use of graphics on websites, space advertising, and in sales copy.

“Use pictures only to attract those who may profit you; use them only when they form a better-selling argument than the same amount of space set in type.” — Claude Hopkin, Scientific Advertising.

A number of copywriters make this worse by using the images that are out of date or that distract the knowledgeable reader from good strong copy. Just look at the outdated head shots on most Copywriters websites (as just one example.)

On-line, I'm guilty of the same. My wife suggested I update the “youthful pictures” on my website with something “more recent.” I don't know if she is saying I look older today, or that I'm more refined now.

Don't know if she was implying that I'm getting older, I know I have a slightly different hair style. This got me thinking about how using the right graphic, if any, in selling copy can add to or distract from your selling message.

Without naming names … I came across a prominent data centers, they compete with larger companies but have a respectable place. However, their website showed pictures of ugly old 19″ racks without doors, wires strung everywhere.

Photographs of their network operations center were reminense of the movie “War Games.” Colors were hazy, and computers featured were far from modern (saw a few white boxes with big 21″ CRT's.)

Remember, your reader may see pictures different than your client, a creative person, or even what is available from image stocks. The meaning of a picture is even filtered by your readers experiences, all things you must be aware of when writing copy.

A buyer of data center space wants clean, organized racks, free of loose wire and great air flow. When researching your copy, find out what pictures your buyers expect (or already have in their mind.)

Buyers in your market recognize certain things that demonstrate your ability to serve them. The same items they may point out in an old picture are the same points you want to make in copy.

Writing for a data center I'd show up to date images of your neatest, best designed racks, and the best technically configured systems. You will need to get permission first if you are using real customer images, but often stock graphics are available if you know what you are seeking.

Use a caption that highlights the value of what the reader sees in the picture, “Neat clean racks help keep your equipment cool, so it lasts longer and runs faster.”

In your headshots, wear up to date clothing expected by those who may hire you. Give the reader what they expect (and will receive when serviced), rather than what you feel might look best.

Relevant graphics add credibility to your copy if used wisely to atract those who will buy. Photographs set expectations for the reader but must telegraph the benefits you'll outline in copy.

On your proven marketing campaigns you'll want to periodically test updated pictures. Refresh graphics only as they prove to increase response.

I was just plain lazy about updating the pictures on my website, I pretty much have the same picture on every site and profile. Don't be the same with your business?

© 2008 Hitt Publishing Direct, All rights reserved.

Justin Hitt helps turn common communications into relationship building and sales producing tools. Before your next advertising campaign visit

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About Staff Writer

Helping copywriters attract top earnings with words that sell without struggling for years. Transforming frustrating jobs into extraordinary freedom with sales persuasion insights. Inspired by world-renowned copywriter Patrick Quinn.