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Monday, March 25, 2013

Marketing Best Practices: Images

When it comes to selecting images for a brochure or website, picking a picture you personally like should have nothing to do with your selection process. The key thing to have in mind when selecting images for marketing is to choose an image that adds to your marketing message. You want to use pictures that describe your message better than words can.

Below are some other guidelines for selecting images for marketing materials:

General Guidelines for Marketing Images

·    Tell a story with the pictures in your brochure. Make sure that pictures are placed in a logical order so as not to confuse the reader.[i]

·    Use high impact photos with lots of color.[ii]

·    Appeal to emotion and use as many senses as possible. [iii]

·    Images with motion, novelty, error or ambiguity all capture attention. [iv]

·    Trends for 2013: macro photography and minimalism (clean lines and simple shapes). [v]

Guidelines for Selecting Images of People

·    Age matters - select images that show people of the same age as your target audience. [vi]

·    Women are attracted to images of women in groups, especially when shown enjoying a shared activity. [vii]

·    Real, relatable body types are the ones that sell. The boundaries of beauty are broadening, and it seems like authenticity is here to stay. [viii]

·    Select photos that show action. [ix]  Because active pictures convey vitality, avoid still, lifeless images. [x]
Guidelines for Marketing to Baby Boomers

·    Authenticity is key. Some of the images in ads are not very authentic — like that affluent couple you always see walking hand in hand on the beach, perfectly coiffed. And if the people in the ad look too young, the audience won’t relate to them.[xi]

·       Actively design ads to portray baby boomers in a positive, uplifting light.[xii]

·    According to a recent study by AARP, images showing exercise that looks like too much work turns off older adults. Use images that are both realistic and fun. Baby boomers are more likely to engage if they feel accurately represented. [xiii]

Trends in Financial Services Advertising

·    Consumers feel very real anxiety about financial issues. As a result, there is a palpable desire for authenticity, realism and visual storytelling. Consumers are looking for imagery that feels less “produced.” [xiv]

·    Use more pictures of women who are now frequently the primary moneymakers and decision makers in their households. Contemporary females are shown looking empowered, relaxed and balancing many roles. [xv]

·    Depictions of aspiration and conspicuous wealth have disappeared and been replaced with a new idea of “wealth.”  Images now communicate themes such as “living life with meaning” and “stopping to really appreciate the basics.” [xvi]

·    Financial imagery has become a lot less “buttoned-up” lately. The use of bold, artful images to illustrate classic concepts is unexpected, and it helps campaigns stand out from the fray. Color-soaked images of natural wonders, quirky pet snaps, atmospheric shots that would look equally at home on a gallery wall as on a banking website might seem like unusual choices, yet they help change the perception that talk about money has to be dull. [xvii]

[ii] “Marketing Materials Best Practices.” Penn State.
[iii] “Increasing our Brainpower: Using Neuroscience Effectively” Webinar. May 2011.
[iv] “Increasing our Brainpower: Using Neuroscience Effectively” Webinar. May 2011.
[vi] “Marketing Materials Best Practices.” Penn State.
[vii] “Increasing our Brainpower: Using Neuroscience Effectively” Webinar. May 2011.
[ix] “Marketing Materials Best Practices.” Penn State.
[xvi] “Image Trends In Financial Services Advertising.” Selling Stock.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Celebrate National Women's History Month

Did you know that March is National Women’s History Month? I wasn’t aware of that until a video by Flickr caught my eye. In honor of Women’s History Month, Flickr asked its followers to submit photos of the women who inspire them. From those photos, they crafted a heart-warming video.

Being an old history buff, I decided I needed to learn more about National Women’s History Month and was surprised to discover that its origins were in nearby Sonoma County, arising out of an educational awareness project in 1978. With little attention being given to women’s history, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women launched a local celebration called “Women’s History Week.” From there the rest is history. The idea of recognizing the role of women in history caught on and communities around the country planned similar events. Coming out of the groundswell created by those efforts, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in 1987.

 Take a moment to watch the video. What special women in your life would you like to have seen included in it?


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Keeping brain power

"If I only had a brain..." Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz
We all have brains. We just have to keep using them. 

A recent report said that 70 percent of Americans over 65 will need long-term care, and we need to plan ahead. I totally agree with the planning ahead part, but it would be nice to stave off being one of the 70 percent in assisted living or skilled nursing as long as possible.

I want to be like David Perlman, the San Francisco Chronicle's veteran science writer, who is still finding interesting stories and producing compelling copy at age 94. Or like the father-in-law of one of my friend's who recently closed the door on his successful law career at age 97. Or my husband's friend who published her second book at the young age of 93.

What's the secret?

Good genes undoubtedly, but keeping an active brain has to play a big part.

Although I can't do much about my genetics, I definitely can do more to keep my brain in good shape. 

What are you doing to keep your brain in high function? I am open to all ideas.

In the meantime, I've adopted some strategies from the experts that make sense to me:

  • Workout. No one disputes the value of being physically active. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day is as good for the brain as the body. I bought an activity tracker from Weight Watchers to keep me motivated to meet or surpass my daily exercise goal. In the month I've had it, I only missed the baseline twice.
  • Brain games. There are more and more websites with entertaining memory, attention, speed, flexibilty and problem solving games that are more useful than simply playing another game of Spider Solitaire. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are beneficial, if you like doing them.
  • Learn something new every day. Have you heard about Wikipedia: Random? A simple keyboard shortcut (Alt-Shift+X in Firefox) loads random articles in Wikipedia. That's how I learned about Guitar Slim, Jr. and Al Filreis who founded PennSound, a large archive of poets reading their own poetry.
  • Do simple math every day. Really! A few minutes of simple adding and substracting a day will keep us less dependent on our calculators. 
  • Write longhand occasionally. The blogger lifehacker suggests ditching the laptop when you're acquiring new knowledge because "your brain's filtering system (the reticular activating system or RAS) processes what you're actively focusing on at the moment. Writing triggers the RAS and lets your brain know it's time to pay attention."
  • Eat well. Not more, just better. New research this past week promoted the  the virtues of the Mediterranean diet -- lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fruity olive oil, nuts, legumes and seeds. Nothing new here but it's a good reminder that the best food for the body is also the best nourishment for the mind. This is a no brainer. 
~ Paula


Monday, March 4, 2013

Malnourished and America?

I have seen the empty look when hunger has taken over. Being born in the Philippines made me face these harsh realities -- of sitting next to another child waiting for a bus who can't hide his hunger as he looks at the small piece of bread in my hand. In the Philippines poverty abounds. The line is clear. Either you have it or you don’t.
But in America, the land of plenty and opportunities, it’s shocking to hear how children go to school hungry because there wasn't enough food to eat. Where I was born, programs or public policies to help put food in the table didn't exist. You often walked past many families in tattered clothes, sunken faces and hungry bellies. There were so many that I felt helpless to do anything. That’s why I have such a soft spot for documentaries that try to fix a problem, and that’s what makes living in America a blessing: to be able to express your opinion and share it with others in hopes of making a difference.

Check out this trailer: A Place at the Table. One Nation. Underfed. to see the underbelly of America’s hunger problem that touches on poverty and how America’s children are sadly undernourished due to poor food choices -- consciously or unconsciously -- being made today.  While I was too young to remember, the film mentioned that at one point public policy did work and almost ended the nation’s hunger through sheer will and everyone working together. I wonder now if this generation of people can do the same.