Almost every type of marketing, whether it’s online or in print, requires visuals. But even on channels where graphics aren’t required, the messaging does much better when it’s accompanied by an image or video. For instance, brands that included imagery on their Facebook posts earn 87 percent of all engagements.

That leaves a lot of content for a business to plan for.

It doesn’t have to be complicated though. Follow these five steps to help you determine what your image and footage needs are.

Step 1: Evaluate your marketing strategy

Before you can start developing content and planning for images and footage, think about two things: the type of content you want to make, and who you’re creating that content for.

You’ll find the answers in your marketing strategy. Small business owners juggle several roles and responsibilities every day, from blogging to answering queries from customers. They’re all necessary but need to be tied to a larger marketing strategy.

A basic marketing strategy answers:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will you reach this audience?

Your target audience depends on the products or services that you sell and in turn, the channels you use to market your products or services depends on your target audience. You can figure out your target audience based on existing customers, industry trends and insights, and demographic data.

Once you have developed a target market, you can determine the channels where you will market. There are many options, including social media, display ads, blog posts, brochures, and direct mail – but all require images or footage.

Step 2: Figure out your distribution channels

marketing strategy

Now that you’ve evaluated your audience, you have to figure out how to reach them. This is part of your distribution plan.

Print and digital both have a place in your distribution plan, but the ratios depend on your particular industry and customer segments.

Digital marketing plays a role in any modern marketing strategy as it’s the new standard of communication, but print is still a major player in the small business world for its localization abilities. In fact, print is seeing something of a renaissance as the digital marketing space becomes more saturated and exposure harder to find.

Most small businesses opt for a digital/print hybrid content mix. In this mix there will be content types you produce regularly as well as one-off campaigns or promotions. Here are some examples:


Direct mail – The mailbox is still king in small business; consumers prefer direct mail for updates and promotions over any other method. A well-designed mailer is a tried-and-true method, but update your designs regularly to avoid customer fatigue.

Blog posts – Content marketing is a relatively new method, but 76 percent of B2C’s are using it as part of their strategy. Daily and weekly posts with engaging graphics can generate traffic through organic search, but they’re also a huge boon to customer retention.

Campaigns or one-off projects

Business brochure – As one of the roomier print options available, brochures give you plenty of space to inform consumers about your business and products. You might create just one of these a year, so make it eye-grabbing!

Website redesign – Your website doesn’t need to change frequently, but you should update its design to reflect current best practices. After all, 75 percent of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website.

Step 3: Develop a schedule


marketing strategy
Image by Stock Rocket

Once you have figured out the type of content you’ll create and where you’ll distribute it, you’ll determine when to create it and send it out into the world. Developing a schedule ensures regular content production and keeps you organized. This weekly, monthly, and yearly cadence helps you stay on-task to hit key targets at decisive times.

A marketing calendar is crucial to this step. It is the planning space for all your content activities, from blog posts and social updates to direct mail release periods. Aligning content across channels is the best way to get the most out of marketing, and a calendar will help you towards this goal.

There are numerous free tools out there to help you create a schedule and calendar. This round-up from Buffer gives you information on building a great calendar, plus examples from top content marketing players. To get started on your calendar immediately, try out this template from HubSpot.

Step 4: Review your image and footage needs

As you plan your content, you might realize just how many assets you will need. From the images required in a direct mail campaign to the footage and music necessary for single branded video, it could take more assets than you realize to implement a successful marketing strategy.

Searching and licensing assets takes time – time better spent focussing elsewhere on your business. This is why Shutterstock has a dedicated team of small business experts – so we can offer the support you need so that you can effectively implement your marketing strategy without the confusion of asset licensing.

Get started with a free phone consultation with one of our small business experts.

  • They’ll learn about your business, your distribution plan, and your image and/or footage needs.
  • They’ll customize a plan tailored to your licensing requirements. Whatever you’re planning to create, our bulk purchasing plans and customized pricing fit every need.
  • They’ll help you develop a cadence that works for you so that your assets are delivered on time and you can put your marketing strategy into play with confidence.

Even beyond the initial consultation, call your dedicated small business expert whenever you have questions or concerns.

Step 5: Track and tweak

marketing strategy
Image by

A marketing strategy tends to evolve as your business needs fluctuate. Changes in the industry, or new customer demands will require fine-tuning of your plan. Measurement is instrumental to your marketing strategy; it keeps you creating the content that works on the right channels, and ditching the content and channels that don’t work. Develop metrics or KPIs to measure the success of your content, and make sure you monitor it regularly. Conduct regular analysis of your content to see if it’s meeting your business objectives.

As your marketing strategy evolves and you see more opportunities for messaging, remember that Shutterstock offers flexibility. Your dedicated small business expert will adapt our licensing options to something that’s a better fit for your evolving objectives. If you need anything, they’re on-call to help.

Get in touch today to set up your customized Shutterstock plan.

Top image by Stock-Asso