People think of Infographics as a viral Web tool, but they have a much wider application and a richer history. Recently, we have been creating Infographics for use in a variety of exciting offline applications, some of which I will be sharing today.
Even as a child, I recall Infographics in newspapers and magazines. Often they would be maps of unstable areas of the world, trying to explain to us North Americans what was going on visually (because so many of the place names meant nothing to us without the map). I recall Infographics that helped explain economic trends, because numbers would be confusing without a visual display.
Infographics really came into their own when USA Today was first published. That publication built a lot of its brand on quick and easy-to-digest news, which included visual representations of key take-aways.
To this day, Infographics are an integral part of newspapers and news magazines. In fact, there is even a blog dedicated to newspaper Infographics.
But for some reason, we talk about Infographics almost exclusively as a viral tool on the Internet.
INFOGRAPHICS AS A BUSINESS TOOL
Businesses have for some reason never truly exploited Infographics for what they are worth.
But some non-business organizations have recently commissioned us to create Infographics to better conduct their business. Here are some of the business uses for Infographics:
Trade shows are exciting. There is so much going on and so much excitement at the booths. What with scantly clad booth girls, contests with fabulous prizes and nifty give-aways, it’s pretty hard to get people to actually focus on what the trade show is ostensibly about; sharing information. Finding ways to cut to the essence of the information is one of the major challenges at many trade show booths. An Infographic poster can help. It is attractive enough to get people’s attention and quick enough to get the right people interested before their attention span is distracted by whatever is making people “ooh” and “ah” at the next booth over.
People collect their weight in paper at trade shows, much of which they have to discard just to comply with airline weight restrictions on the flight back home. So another big challenge is to convey the value of your information quickly enough that they decide to keep yours rather than discard it. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an Infographic flyer (just 8 1/2 by 11) will transmit your key message quickly, and hopefully the prospect will hang onto the details in the accompanying documents.
Politicians have to make constant choices, and they are bombarded by information from all sides. Everybody wants their support. Many organizations rely on government for funding or for favorable regulations and legislation. How does one convey that information in a way that will really capture the politicians’ attention? Infographics! A simple 8 1/2 x 11 sheet will do, or perhaps several sheets, one for each theme, if an organization does several different things.
In the case of the Infographics we did for Caledon \ Dufferin Victim Services, we created two Infographics, one for each of the territories they cover, each with local data. This gives the organization the ability to target each community, including local policy-makers and sponsors, with community-specific data.
If you have a business idea, and you want support from investors, sponsors, partners, politicians or the community at large, nothing quickly conveys the key benefits like an Infographic. The key points can be placed within a single image that is easy for potential investors or partners to grasp. Every start-up should have at least one Infographic to communicate with potential investors.
We have recently been helping a biotech network that is developing a number of technologies for better packaging. Each process is fairly complex, and it is important to be able to explain in the simplest terms possible what each technology does, what its benefits are and who should be interested. Not only does this help prospective partners and other interested parties see the value of taking a closer look, but it also helps non-scientific executives quickly understand the value of paying closer attention.
This is one of a series of Infographics for the biotech network. It doesn’t convey numbers or “data”, but rather key points that help audiences understand the value of reading further. This information can be displayed on a simple 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, or if you want to take your case to a trade show, you could blow it up booth sized.
Infographics and text as partners
What these business Infographics and the ones on the Internet have in common, is that they work best in partnership with much more complete text. Yes, Infographics are cool. Yes, they pack a lot of information. Yes, they are sharable and can attract customers, partners and all sorts of opportunities. No, they are not a substitute for detailed information. Infographics complement detailed text, and they draw interested parties to the details in the text. They do not replace those details.
Any time you have something complex to communicate, whether it is a new business idea, a scientific discovery, complex financial data or simply a record of achievement, why not lead with an Infographic?
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