Recession Tip: Use Keywording to Open New Market Segments, Win Sales

Look at any business commentator's guide to surviving the recession and you'll find three common themes: reduce production costs, collect your debts, and don't skimp on marketing.

In obeying that holy trinity, it is easy to forget that keywording is a marketing tool, not an operational expense, and in the rush to reduce costs throw the baby out with the bath water. Harnessed properly, keywords can give you an advantage over your competitors, help you find new clients and open whole new market segments.

Perhaps because keywording is part of image workflow and doesn't involve booking advertisements or making cold calls it appears to belong to be part of production not selling.

But stand back for a few moments and think about that. Marketing is the art/science of improving sales by finding out what customers want and making it easy for them to buy it. Just as an advertisement enables people to find out about the existence of products they want, so keywording enables customers find out about the existence of images they want. Looking at it from the other end, if you stop advertising or promoting your images, people won't find them and sales will fall. The same is true with keywording.

Similarly, the quality of keywording is important in exactly the same way as the quality of a company's advertising and promotions is important. Few people think it makes sense to lower sales by producing ineffective, poorly-targeted advertisements. Keywording needs just as much attention.

For that reason, keywording should be done by people or companies who know how. To leave keywording to the untrained is like getting the receptionist to write your advertising copy, or the janitor to tell you what web sites should carry your banner ads.

It is also important to think about what end users want from their keywords. There are the obvious criteria of keywords being organised, consistent, and spelled correctly.

Relevance is also vital. In that regard try to think about what your customers want, and orientate your keywords that way.

Done intelligently you can use keywords to open up new market segments. Pictures of people hiking, keyworded in a general fashion, would be useful for many customers But if you added specialist keywords aimed at say the business market (investors reaching their goal, finances getting on top of you, for instance) you could reach new customers who wouldn't have thought about using those images in that way before.

Obviously you have to be careful not to over-stretch and start adding keywords which are irrelevant - keyword spam - but provided you have orientated your keywords intelligently you can uncover new opportunities and revitalise images which aren't selling.