The integration of User Generated Content into visual marketing trends allows brands and businesses to address their customers in diverse, authentic ways. Contrary to popular belief, UGC can be integrated into all marketing channels, not just online. We have summarized the most common ways to integrate visual content into your offline marketing, and most importantly why you should do it.

User Generated Content, earned content or consumer-generated content: whatever you may call it, its importance and influence are indisputable. The days of fairly easy sales procedures where a marketer could make consumers buy their product simply by showing them how great the product is, are over. It’s not about the characteristics of the product itself anymore. Consumers care about stories, authenticity and brand image. They need a reason to buy your brand’s new watch instead of your rival’s watch which, to be honest, looks almost the same. An authentic, relatable brand image and associated lifestyle can make the big difference between a strong sales force and a failure.

The power of UGC

Your own customers are the best sales force for your product. They are real people, who have bought your product and trust your brand and enjoy your product enough to share their experiences on social media or other channels. This is based on the principle of “social proof”. Humans trust other people’s opinions and experiences enough to use them as a basis for their own decisions. If someone has bought your product and has had a wonderful experience with it, that is more worth to us than your head of marketing telling us how great of a product it is. 63% of consumers state that they trust consumer content more than brand content. Use this for your visual marketing trend: allow customers to interact with each other, let them advocate your product or services for you. This way you put your customers front and center, allowing your brand’s image to come off more human and approachable.

Many marketers are unsure how to make the best use of UGC. Often they are mistaken and believe that they should stick to those platforms where they have received their visual content. This is a large misunderstanding. Provided that you have the media usage rights, you can integrate UGC into any of your marketing channels to make maximum use of the great content. We have talked about possible online integrations of visual marketing trends before, such as in e-mail marketing. Now we want to address different options of integrating UGC in offline channels.

Use UGC for in-store displays or pamphlets

Whether you want to sell shoes, watches or a new car seat for babies: the experience others have had with your product is worth a lot. Most stores will have visual content of the brand and the products, either in large displays or small pamphlets you hand out at the cash register. Customers will appreciate visual formats in your stores. Instead of offering the same images of expensive photo shoots, try displaying UGC. It can include different products or offer a variety of combinations of one specific product. Right in the act of purchasing or at least shopping for new goods, customers will appreciate the authentic and diverse material. You will convey that others have liked this product enough to buy it already – the social proof will have a positive effect on your customers. The displays and pamphlets won’t come off as “trying to convince you to buy this” but simply show that “others have used it before”.

Use visual content for billboards and posters

Whether your advertising a whole new product line or starting of a new season, you will most likely have some visual advertisement. This can include billboards across the cities but also posters in train stations, malls or wherever you feel you can best reach your target group. Especially when you advertise products across multiple locations, most people will feel like they are being followed by the same five images you are displaying. If you construct your visual advertisements with UGC, each billboard, poster or other ad will be an individual, new experience. Customers and consumers appreciate the authenticity and diversity of advertisement. You will show that there are numerous ways to use or combine your product, making it more applicable to variable age and social groups. Additionally, you save money by using the free visual content as opposed to constructing expensive photoshoots.

During the grand opening of a (new) store, at your booth during an exhibition or simply whenever your brand as a whole is in contact with (potential) customers, you need material to show off or hand out. Little brochures highlighting new info, your best-selling products or a new collection you are releasing soon can be optimized through the integration of UGC. Consumers and customers can relate to the real people that you are displaying. The message you are conveying tells them that you value your customers’ opinions enough to display them. The same can be applied to your shipments. After someone has ordered online, include a little card with the top three UGC images featuring the bought products or just generally images of real people wearing your clothing. Social proof will influence customers and consumers at every point of contact. Additionally, it will animate them to share their own content with you, guaranteeing you have a continuous flow of new, high quality UGC.

The right approach is the key to success

The way you integrate UGC into your offline marketing channels should always be in accordance with the goals you have set for each of the channels as well as your target group and the nature of your product. Selling watches and selling dietary supplements will require two different approaches. Be aware of the lifestyle your target group aspires and use this as a basis for your campaigns. Generally speaking, the kind of UGC you get will be a good basis to find out how consumers use/combine/relate to your product. Let this speak for itself, make your consumers your messenger and let them show the visual content they already shared with you share with many other people.

About Anthea Bruger

Anthea was part of the squarelovin team from 2018 to 2019. In addition to her marketing management studies at the Northern Business School, she supported the marketing team, in content creation as an expert for all things Instagram.

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