How SMEs can take advantage of tech in these unprecedented times

Jacqueline Bourke, senior manager of creative insights at iStock, suggests how small businesses can use technology to connect with their customers.

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The role of technology in both our daily lives and in business has significantly increased in the past two months. From enabling remote working from home to Friday social Zoom calls with friends and family, the ways in which technology has enabled all parts of our lives has intensified. And that’s represented in how we feel about technology and how it’s come to shape the visual world around us.

Earlier this year, iStock’s parent company, Getty Images, released its Visual GPS study, which revealed that 79% of people believe that technology makes them feel connected to those who matter most. Following the pandemic, technology has almost become synonymous with connection itself.

New ways to reach customers

With more people online than ever before and consuming increasing amounts of content, technology presents an opportunity for small businesses to create an even stronger relationship with their customers. According to a recent Nielsen study, consumers forced indoors during a crisis spend 60% more time on media. There’s never been a better time for small businesses to seize the moment and use digital media to get in front of their target audiences.

Businesses have the opportunity to revamp the more traditional forms of marketing, such as email marketing or digital advertising on social media, in ways that respond to consumers’ lockdown-related needs and concerns. For example, technologies such as WhatsApp Business allow brands to connect with audiences via chat, offering new ways to communicate their message. Ensuring that visual content is both resonant and optimised for mobile should be a key consideration for small businesses taking advantage of new channels.

Businesses can visually demonstrate their ability to adapt to a ‘new normal’ and continue to offer clients value from afar by delivering the right kinds of visual content that shows companies are in tune with what people need and want in their current circumstance. Identifying those consumer needs is crucial for businesses to create the right content to suit them.

Representing technology as a helpful tool in current times

In my work, I collaborate with photographers and art directors to provide the most up-to-date visual content for businesses. When it comes to technology, our Visual GPS research reveals 74% of people say that technology helps them keep track of goals and 82% say mobile devices help them stay connected to what’s happening in the world. It is key therefore that brands demonstrate the impact of technology in a relevant way.

Our findings show that 62% of brands are looking to depict technology benefiting or working alongside humans. In response to this, we’ve found that there are a number of effective approaches to take when visualising technology:

  1. Show technology as the centre of the action – Visualise how people are using technology to interact with your product or service and showcase the possibilities.
  2. Show how technology has brought people together – Technology has the power to bring people together during lockdown. You can champion this as it relates to your business offering.
  3. Use graphic illustrations that represent the connections which technology enables – Showcase how your product or service can be accessed using the latest in technology, bringing purchasing power to customers’ fingertips.

Taking these insights on board, companies can begin to deliver against what their customers need. Small businesses can create visual content for their marketing campaigns which directly addresses the matters important to customers – including technology as a tool for better connection and productivity in these unprecedented times.

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