In an earlier post about social media, we touched briefly upon the importance of visual content marketing; it’s arguably the most effective way to make your content stand out, to grab your readers’ attention, and to influence conversions. As with anything else, though, visual content marketing needs to be executed properly in order to achieve the best results. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you sharpen your visual content game and get the most out of your marketing. Check out the below suggestions to get yourself started, and stay tuned for a later post, in which we’ll dive a little deeper into visual content marketing best practices.

The first (and most important) step in your visual content marketing strategy is to determine exactly what you’re trying to do. While it might seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many companies simply jump right in with a barrage of visual marketing efforts, without actually stopping to think about the best way to make those efforts work for them. As Jodi Harris from Content Marketing Institute notes, “Making an image and hoping for the best is not an effective strategy.” You need to have a clear vision of your brand, your goals, and your target audience before you begin presenting yourself via visual marketing to current and potential clients.

That being said, don’t allow yourself to get so bogged down in the details that you paralyze yourself. Do you feel obligated to compete against the stunningly designed infographics, professionally edited videos, and overly clever memes out there? Don’t be intimidated. While you certainly want your content marketing to be visually appealing, the crucial element here is what you’re trying to say, not how beautifully you say it. And remember that there are a multitude of tools out there that can help you with everything from resizing images to data visualization products – so that you can focus on getting your point across.

Another important tip as you’re getting started: keep it real. By that, we mean that you should maintain a level of authenticity to which your readers can relate. Your current consumer base is one of your strongest selling points: real people who are buying and appreciating your product, whatever that product might be. Encourage those consumers to participate within your social media outlets (via an Instagram photo contest, for example); in doing so, you’ll attract new customers who are encouraged by the sight of people trusting and vouching for your business.

A final word of advice as you kick start your visual content marketing strategy: stay current – and relevant. Users like to see content that is as “real-time” as possible; if your marketing efforts coincide with a big event (for example, the Oscars or a presidential debate) try to drop in a reference to that event in a clever fashion. Your readers will appreciate the freshness of your content – and you may even be able to market that content to a new audience, if you can make it relevant to them in some way.