Marketing 101 – part 2: Pics & Pixels

Probably the most important element of any advertising one does is the quality of the visual images. So many people say, “What I’ve got is fine, people can get an idea what we offer.”

Now that’s nonsense. You are advertising, not a sloppy-sort-of-giving-an-idea. If that’s your attitude to marketing your business, it’s an attitude that’s bound to reflect your whole business… so think again!

Getting and using good images properly challenges most people. Here are a few tips:

Getting good images
You have two choices – either you take them or somebody else does.

If you are going to take them, don’t rush. Take into consideration lighting at different times of day and what you can do to take a better photograph. Time/Life photographers had an awesome reputation for getting the best pics – the famous Iwo Jima photo was actually a re-enactment of what had happened before any photographer arrived on the scene and another Life photographer asked the US Army to take one step back because it made a better pic!

If you don’t have an adequate camera or no eye for composing great photography, use others – guests, friends or a professional photographer. Maybe a local photographic club or friends will take a collection of pics you can use in exchange for product.

Images you can use
You need images that end with .jpg, gif or .png. A good rule to follow is that photographs should be JPG while graphics (like logos) are frequently better as GIF files.

You will probably need images for print and the internet, and these have completely different requirements – so always ask for and keep two copies of each pic – one high resolution for print and the other low resolution for internet.

The high resolution print copies should be as large as you can get. The low resolution internet copies should never be over 300Kb in size. Both can be 72 pixels/inch – that’s all the internet uses and your print version can always be resampled for specific uses which differ.

If someone supplies you with photos, ask for them on a CD. You can store that somewhere safely after you have loaded all your pics onto your computer in a marketing folder under “My Pictures”.

How do you tell the size? Hovering over a thumbnail will show the size in Kb as well as pixels (width and height). If you click once on the pic, it shows in the left hand column in MS Windows. You can also select the “Details” option in the way your window is presented.

Naming images
Image names should be simple with no blank spaces or characters like / or punctuation marks. You can use – and _.

Note this
If you try to load pictures that are too large onto the internet, or pictures that have spaces or incorrect characters in the name, your submission will probably fail and you may not get an error message telling you why.

If you load pictures that are too small, when they are going to be used at a certain size, your images will be pixelated – that means the dots show and the image quality is poor.

(CapeInfo’s image gallery in the Directory displays the larger pics at 520 pixels wide. If your image is smaller than that, it will appear pixelated.)

If you need to crop, resize or touch up
The free image editing application that comes with Microsoft bundles is really not up to the job and you’ll struggle to get anything done.

The best application is Photoshop Elements which costs about R900. It is something you’ll be able to use forever so it’s not a bad investment. You can buy it online in South Africa (Google it for suppliers). The full professional version of Photoshop costs many thousands of rands and most are unlikely to use all its features.

An alternative is to use Photoshop’s free online service ( – you can store up to 2Gigs of images there as well.

If you are creative and have a good cellphone camera, you can try using that. There are times when a softer-focus image does work, especially if you plan to improve the image in Photoshop.

Most important, don’t ever bluff yourself that what you have is “just good enough”. Always ask yourself, is it compelling and does it sell! Remember, great pics have long legs and will be used elsewhere, giving your business additional exposure.