[Mannes on Marketing] Visual Marketing

Columns - Mannes on Marketing

May 27, 2014
Cindy Mannes

Let’s face it: The old adages “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” “seeing is believing” and “people eat with their eyes” are true. Sometimes it’s easier to convince people of a fact, or in our case, a necessary service, if you show them rather than describe it to them.

Today’s consumer has become accustomed to instant gratification with the information they seek. In many cases people don’t take the time to read articles or sales literature anymore and they want detailed information explained quickly and simply. Albert Einstein said it best: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it.” In many instances, complex ideas can be effectively and simply communicated with an image or set of images.

One of the biggest issues we face is explaining the need for and value in our services to consumers. We “get it” because we are invested in the industry, but communicating this need to others outside our business in a concise and effective manner can be a real challenge — and opportunity if we get it right.

Try this on for size.

A potential customer calls because she has ants. You go to evaluate the situation at her home and, in fact, she does have ants. During the inspection you also uncover evidence of active termites. You are now in the position to sell her both ant and termite treatments. Do you give her your service protocols, which explain the treatments and expect her to wade through all of the information or do you provide her with “before” and “after” images and other visual examples of how the service works? Which do you think is more likely to result in a sale?


Whatever you do to present your image to your potential and existing customers is wrapped around “visual marketing.” Your logo, your trucks’ cleanliness and your customer-facing collateral all represent YOU, what your company stands for and why they should do business with you. They also are likely the only thing that potential customers will remember.

Select images that reflect your mission, vision and core values that differentiate you from your competition. One idea may be to use images from the communities you serve in your materials to connect with residents.

Visuals and Social Media.

If you’ve taken the dive into the world of social media, think about using visual marketing as part of your tactical plan. Every post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter should be supported with a visual image. And then there is Instagram and YouTube….100 percent totally visual. With millions of consumers going to those sites each day, use this to your advantage by demonstrating who you are and how you can solve pest problems.


In its simplest form an infographic is just that — a blend of information and graphics. A good infographic is worth a thousand words. Infographics have been around since the early ’60s but recent easy-to-use, free tools have made them available to a larger audience. In 2010 infographics became a truly popular medium and social media sites have allowed for individual infographics to be shared among many people.

In newspapers, infographics are commonly used to show the weather. They also are used as maps, site plans and graphs for statistical data. According to Wikipedia, some books are almost entirely made up of information graphics, such as David Macaulay’s “The Way Things Work.” The “Snapshots” in USA Today are also an example of simple infographics used to convey news and current events.

Our industry is a perfect fit for using infographics to convey what we do. Case in point: above are two examples of infographics with completely different objectives.

The above left infographic communicates company information and was used as a Christmas card by Sprague Pest Solutions in Tacoma, Wash. The above right infographic conveys “2014 Pest Trends” prepared by Atlanta-based Arrow Exterminators. Both are very visual with complex information presented clearly and simply. The objectives were quite different and convey completely different types of information but both do so effectively.

In this day and age of complex information and the bombardment of messages at the consumer, if we strive to present the facts about protecting the health and property of our customers (and potential customers) in the simplest way possible, taking up the least amount of their time — we will continue to grow this industry for generations to come.


The author is chief marketing and strategy officer for Arrow Exterminators, Atlanta, and can be contacted at cmannes@giemedia.com.