Have you ever seen a piece of content and had a déjà-vu moment?
You say to yourself, “I’ve read this before, and I know I’ve seen the gray-haired man holding an iPad somewhere.”
B2B content has become pretty formulaic.
Insert "Top 10" list headline here.
Insert stock photo of a businessman jumping in the air there.
If you want to stand out in this explosion of digital content, you need to get smarter with your content and create content that differentiates your brand and supports your message. And you need to do it 10 times better than your competition.
Start by banning these 12 overused stock photos from your B2B marketing:
1. The futuristic woman touching a screen
Wearing "Star Trek" glasses while touching a transparent screen is totally representative of what working in B2B is like, right?
2. The headset hottie
The headset hottie is the quintessential overused stock photo. She’s everywhere—from working at online universities to working for startups, to selling sunglasses online—and everywhere in between.
She’s usually a great tip off that your first touchpoint with a company will be with a call center employee in Manila. If there’s one stock photo you should never use, it’s the headset hottie.
3. The culturally diverse team meeting
Not only is this a culturally diverse team meeting, but it’s a team meeting with all the different age ranges perfectly covered, too. And everyone is smiling at the man who is talking, of course.
4. The gray-haired businessman
No B2B website would be complete without a silver fox in a modern office space. I’m not sure exactly what he does at the company, or how he helps support marketing objectives, but at least he’s nice to look at.
A photo of a real executive or customer would be 10 times more effective, though.
5. The forced high five
Nothing says teamwork like the forced high five!
6. The executive wearing a hardhat
I’ve seen this stock photo on websites ranging from marketing content to high-tech to B2B agencies—all completely unrelated to construction.
7. The businessman in a field
Either he just quit his job, or he is on his way to a music festival after leaving work.
Wait, that doesn’t make sense. And neither does this image. Ban it from your marketing.
8. The woman in a black suit with folded arms
Almost as popular as the headset hottie, the woman in a black suit with folded arms can usually be found standing in front of a white backdrop, or standing in front of office windows and doors with the perfectly age-balanced team behind her.
Is she really the best representative of your company or your customers? I didn’t think so.
9. The man on his phone outside of his office building
Is he on his way to work, sneaking out of the office to text his girlfriend, or is he taking a selfie? I can’t figure it out, and I bet your target audience can’t either.
10. The computer circuit board
It’s 2016, and as of May 17, these stock photos are still all over Fortune 500 websites. Computer circuit board images are so AOL circa-1995. For the love of all things creative, stop using these images. Now.
11. The faceless man adjusting his tie
Admittedly, I’ve used the faceless man with a tie to promote webinars. You may have to. I bet it didn’t help your webinar numbers.
12. The token young and casual guys in plaid or denim
Nothing says “we’re young and our perks include ping pong tables” like the token young and casual guys. I’ve seen these guys on the website of a blue chip Fortune 500, and also on the website of a hip coworking space, so heed caution. It’s hard to get your brand and message across when you use the same stock photos as everyone else.
We can do better
While most of us are guilty of using these cliche stock photos in our B2B marketing, we can do better:
- Instead of slapping the forced high five team photo onto a landing page with a short form, create a product configurator with photos of your sales team members. This will humanize your brand, and I can guarantee you, your competition isn’t doing it.
- Instead of putting the silver fox on a white paper landing page, create a ROI calculator, and introduce your audience to your CEO or CTO
You get the idea.
Content production is only going to continue to increase, so there is no better time to focus on differentiating your brand. And that starts with banning headset hotties from your marketing content.
This article was written by Megan Leap from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.