It’s hard not to look at a cartoon. This is why cartoons solve one of content marketing’s biggest problems — getting people to pay attention. We live in a world of content overload, with billions of pieces of content being published every day. Distractions are everywhere. With so many social shares and search results to sort through, it’s no wonder Internet users gravitate toward visual content. Visual content is different. It’s quick to consume. It’s often entertaining.
Cartoons are underutilized as a visual content option. This spells opportunity for content marketers. Consider this – most audiences don’t read much text-based content now. So it’s only a matter of time before they tire of infographics, GIFs and videos. Even if interest for these visual forms remains high, using them will not give a company any creative edge, any above-average ability to attract viewers and garner conversions. Cartoons, being different, give you that all-important edge.
How to create cartoons
You’re in the perfect spot if you or someone on staff is a cartoonist and writer. Creating original, relevant and amusing material for your content marketing program will be much easier in such instances.
In my case, I can write cartoons but have zero drawing ability. So, in 2006, I partnered with a great cartoonist, Mark Hill, who would brilliantly bring my ideas to visual life.
Many talented artists specialize in business cartooning and work on a freelance or contract basis. Your challenge is to find a cartoonist with a style that fits your brand image. There are a multitude of online communities where cartoonists seeking employment showcase their work. If you’ve got a cartoonist but need a comic writer, you can also search online. Writing cartoons effectively can be tricky — notice the cartoon above has no caption, but it still had to be “written” – that is, described in detail to an illustrator.
A third creative option is to use existing cartoons purchased from online sources. This is probably the least expensive route, but it may be difficult to find the perfect image for your purpose. Nevertheless, many cartoon websites have a wide selection, and sort images by industry and theme.
How to use cartoons in your content marketing
Once you’ve nailed down the creative plan, you can start thinking about how to use cartoons to improve content. Here are approaches I have found to be particularly effective.
- Email campaigns. What a challenge it is getting subscribers to open, let alone read, your email! Adding a one-panel or four-panel image (see above) at the top of your email may produce more conversions. Over time, when subscribers come to expect a cartoon, and/or if you add the word “cartoon” to the subject line, you may see serious improvement in open rates.
- Featured images for blog posts. A common content type on social media channels is blog posts. With the extra firepower of a cartoon as the featured image picked up on the share, you’re likely to get more reads. This is why relevance is so important in business cartooning, by the way. If the cartoon is intriguing or amusing but has no connection to what you are selling, the additional blog traffic won’t help your lead pipeline, online sales or brand image.
- E-books. Cartoons are helpful in e-books not only for capturing interest but also for conveying high-level ideas that are complex and difficult to explain. For instance, when I was freelancing, a business consultant client wanted to convey the dynamics of generational resistance to change. In addition to his textual discussion of the issue, we added this cartoon to drive home the point —
- Sales presentations. Cartoons are a wonderful way to engage audiences for a slide or PowerPoint presentation. Without snappy content, your presentation ends up like this:
Crafting content marketing with cartoons – Cartoon creators collaborate
As these cartoon deployment ideas suggest, cartoon creators must be part of the content production process. Without a clear understanding of the purpose of the cartoon, or its purpose within a larger content context (e.g., an e-book), the cartoon will be thematically off the mark — and as a result, confuse rather than motivate, educate or inspire your audience. The most successful business cartoons achieve all three.
(Images © Brad Shorr)