How manufacturers can make content marketing picture perfect

Rob Felber’s article in the Crain’s Cleveland Business Akron Edition

Photos are a critical element in content marketing for manufacturers. Whether your story is strictly online, being used for a media article or your own collateral, a picture does tell a thousand words.

But what if the words are wrong? The following are key factors to consider when staging, using or choosing just the right photo.

The first and often most important factor in photo use is resolution. Most print publications require at least a minimum of 300 dpi. Not sure how to get the highest resolution on your digital camera? Simply set your camera to capture the highest resolution, or put it on a “raw” setting. This will ensure you have the depth, pixels and, ultimately, the resolution publications require. Just because it looks good on a website or on Facebook does not mean the photo file is large enough to be used in print or even with your trade show booth display

buckeye man drilling

Client Buckeye Fasteners’ photo showcases process of making their parts.

When taking a photo, it is important to feature what you want to show, but also what you do not want to show. Often, we might see great photos of workers getting the job done. What is often overlooked is safety.

Are the workers on a roof tied off properly and wearing Occupational Safety and Health Administration and industry-standard safety equipment? Your photo runs the risk of being rejected if your facility and workers are not up to industry standards. Even worse, if the photo gets published and others notice your workers, with logo-emblazoned helmets, prominently displaying an obvious safety violation, you could greatly tarnish your brand and reputation.

During the photo-selection process, ask yourself, “Are we giving too much away?” Look carefully at not only the subject of your photo, but the background. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Is there proprietary equipment in the background?
  • Are secret processes able to be seen in photo?
  • Is the environment messy?
  • Are there people in the scene who are distracting?
  • Are customers featured, and do you have their permission? Be cautious about tipping off your competition.


    Buckeye Fasteners photo showcases American-made values and unique boot hanging ceremony for retiring employee-owners.

When pre-planning your photo shoot (please tell us you just didn’t charge your iPhone and wing it), make sure to review your company’s branding and messaging guidelines. Try to capture photos that support your brand.

Are you proud to be union and American-made? Look for opportunities to take photos that support that image. Do you profess to have associates who roll up their sleeves and get the job done? Choose a scene and personnel that show just that.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to capture and use the perfect photo.

Read the full article here.

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Business Owner Interruption and Staying Out of the Quicksand

One of my favorite movies is The Replacements with Keanu Reeves. The story line is about a bunch of football players brought in by the owners to fill in for the striking spoiled professional players. There’s a scene where coach (Gene Hackman) is trying to talk about player fears. After a digression about spiders and bees, Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), the team’s quarterback mentions his fear of quicksand. The whole team turns to listen to their leader. What he is referring to is that while you are playing football and think all is well, one mistake can have a spiraling effect where it becomes another mishap after another. Before you know it you are up to your neck in quicksand.

As a business owner, you are depended upon by many people. Clients and employees, as well as vendors, your family and maybe even your community. In a small or medium sized business, there may not be many layers in your organization. You might be the rain maker, accountant, deliverer of services and even the janitor. You have shed the shackles of large corporate life, with the layers of support staff for the thrill of building something of your own. One day (or for me an evening) your find yourself in quicksand.

rob leg

Rob home after first ER visit with newly bandaged leg.

My quicksand adventure and what I am calling business owner interruption came 20 minutes into my men’s league evening soccer game. It wasn’t a heroic play, or even a foul by me or the attacker. I simply made a stick tackle and caught turf and my opponent’s foot. A quick turn and I hear the unmistakable sound of celery being snapped. That was it. Broken and torn up ankle with fractures in my leg in two places. As I lay on the field, with my left foot headed south, I realized that I was immediately dependent. Dependent on my teammates, the paramedics (as a certified paramedic myself, I assisted with own splinting and refused an IV and pain meds) and my family and neighbor to retrieve my car. Once in the ER, I saw no less than 12 people in and out of my room. That’s when I knew it was bad.  I now lay on the ER bed helpless, accept for my smartphone. Who needed to know?  Company staff, my business partner at one of my companies, my fire department chief to cancel my shifts, my colleagues and administration at the school board, my assistant coaches in softball and the list goes on. QUICKSAND! The impact of what I had done started to fill the room with sand, buckets of the stuff.

Fortunately through the injury, two reductions in the ER and ultimately surgery, I remained pain free. What transpired next is pure business interruption. Most of my ability to prospect in person for new business, attending networking events and volunteer committees went out the window. My “fear” of keeping business flowing and the ability to pay bills was more coarse sand in the back of my throat. For nearly three weeks I was dependent on people to drive me. I had to plan each move, from handing out diplomas at high school graduation as school board president, with the administration’s fear I might trip students with my cast, to simply getting downstairs, out the door and into my office. The lessons learned were many.

First, I had to understand people truly wanted to help. Harder, for a type-A CEO is to actually ask for help. Learn to ask. Whether it is being picked up for work, carrying your computer or simply getting you food. Crutches were my equalizer as I could not carry anything not already on my back. One of my clients and a wise man told me that people want to help. It’s our privilege to allow them to help us. Let people help you.

Second, be ready for the down days. You thrive by being involved, being everyone’s go-to person. When that is gone, as I found out, you can easily get depressed. For me, the endorphins from running or being active were gone. I truly believe that chemical need impacts your mood. Add in feeling like you are letting everyone down and not being with any of the teams you love make it even darker. I saw the same thing with a child we had to remove from contact sports due to concussions, but did not understand how feeling left out really impacts the psyche. Get up and take back control of something, anything. Whether getting dressed without help or finding a way to go to an offsite meeting, it will boost your spirits.

Third, can I prepare for this better? Having computer and server access helps. What files and procedures can be in the cloud? Who can you train to maintain critical operations? While I was the only one to pay bills, I was able to let my assistant take a greater role in client communications. Make sure you know how to allow access via passwords, where important files are located both physically and on computers. Role play today what you would do it you could not get to the office for a week or more.

Lastly, know that clients will understand. You’ve spent years building trust and proving your dependability. They will understand that meetings might be delayed and accommodations for alternative communications might be needed. Do not be afraid to tell them your condition. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by their support. While I still have a long road of physical therapy ahead, I now have a better handle on some of the critical tasks in my organization.

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