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The Power of Images to Help People Understand

When I say “red, orange, and green”, what do you think of?

You probably think about traffic lights, right? (Okay, maybe capsicums if you’re a veggie-lover).

And you know that green means go, red means stop, and orange means caution/start stopping.

But there aren’t any words on traffic lights.

It’s just three colours.

And those colours are used to communicate simply, quickly and effectively.

Now imagine you’re looking at a project task list, and see each task marked with green, orange or red. You can take a pretty educated guess about which tasks on track and which aren’t, just from those colours.

That’s the power of using visual elements in your business.

They help people to digest and understand complex information super fast!

Which do you think is easier (and quicker) to understand?

Did you choose the image on the left?

If so – you are not alone.

MIT neuroscientists found that the brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds.

The eyes take in the information and the brain processes it, literally in the blink of an eye.

Images and visual elements capture our attention and help us make meaning (good or bad).

A toddler that can’t read, knows that a big yellow “M” means a happy meal and playground time (or bad food stay away).

Images can also change our mood and influence our emotions.

Compare a photo of a cute kitten with an image of war. How does each make you feel?

So, where can all of this be used in your financial advice business?

Let’s look at a few examples.

1. Create a visual or an infographic to explain your advice process.

Source: 9Rok Consulting Skills Goodie Bag

Source: 5Elk Outsourcing Solutions

2. Help your clients decide what is right for them if you have different versions of your offer that clients choose from.



3. Communicate complex ideas, simply.



4. Show how a client is tracking according to their budget (notice the traffic light colours?)



5. Show a client’s bank account set-up, and the flow of money.


6. Use a tool as a discussion starter, to talk about things beyond money.



7. Support your text with images that help convey your message.



8. Explain a back-end process with screenshots from your software.

Source: 5Elk

How to create your own images

The awesome thing about technology, is that it’s often much quicker to create a quality image, than it is to try to convey that information in another form. That’s good for the creator, and good for the receiver.

Here are a few options for creating your own:

1. Screenshots

If you use the Chrome browser there are a few free extensions you can use to take screenshots. Many of the images in this post, were created using “Awesome Screenshot”. It simply takes a screenshot of a section or of a whole webpage and saves it as an image. You can also use it to annotate and crop images too.

2. PowerPoint

Or if you know PowerPoint, you could hack your way to something half decent.

This image we shared showing the flow of money was created using Powerpoint and some free icons from a Google search.

3. Graphics

You no longer need to have a graphic designer on call to create good quality images.

Tools like Canva and PicMonkey will help you create custom graphics.

And you can also purchase high quality, low cost graphical elements and layouts from places such as Graphic River and Creative Market.

4. Photos

Ideally your photographs are original, but there are times when that’s not practical. Sites such as Shutterstock and AustockPhoto offer high quality images (avoid the cheesy ones) at decent prices.

And you can also access free images on sites like Pexels and Photopin.

Just remember to read the Terms and Conditions to ensure you understand how these photos can be used and whether you need to credit the creator.


5. Infographics

Infographics can get pretty fancy, but keeping them simple is just as effective. The idea is that they use images to tell part of the story and can make learning fun and easy (even fro grown ups).

Canva has functionality to get you started, and has a good selection of attractive templates.

If you want to create something a bit more detailed, try a tool like Piktochart which has hundreds of starting templates which you can customise for your needs.


 6. DIY drawing

Get out a ‘sharpie’ (you know, those permanent markers you can even buy from a supermarket) and get creative.

If it’s good enough for Carl Richards, it’s good enough for you, right?…

Or if you want a tech solution, try using a stylus with an iPad and an app like Paper, and you can digitise your drawings in an instant.


And finally….

The power of adding a visual element to your communication can be a big win – for both you and your clients.

So put yourself in your client’s shoes and think creatively about how you can get your message across, so it’s simple and easy to absorb.

After all, would you rather see a picture of a cat wearing a shark costume, or read about it?  I’m just saying….



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