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How to get your marketing message across – profitably

April 27, 2010
A brochure from the Marketing Guild showing visual and verbal stimuli in marketing

Impact is all - visual stimuli are crucial to marketing success. This can be achieved by design, copy or images


Research by the American Optemetric Association in 1991 revealed that 80% of learning is visually based. Further research by G Zaltmann published in Marketing Research in 1996 showed that 2/3 of the stimuli reaching the brain are visual. This means that marketers need to ensure effective visual exchange to deliver a positive emotional response. 

Yet we also know from Siegfried Vogele that customer dialogue, through a three-stage message interface, leverages a higher response rate from committed individuals. This means that effective marketing must combine detailed messages with easy-to-negotiate visual stimuli. 

Prior to the development of any message, however, is the requirement to understand the emotional relationship between the recipient and the product. With an effective understanding of this core component, visual and verbal stimuli will be more effective in achieving a sale. 

Hill (Emotionomics, 2008) talks about six basic emotions: 

  1. Happiness
  2. Surprise
  3. Anger
  4. Disgust/Contempt
  5. Sadness
  6. Fear

He argues that a combination of two of these emotions creates a secondary emotion; as marketers we can maximise these secondary emotions to create our core marketing emotional message. For example, Surprise  mixed with Anger creates Outrage. Or Happiness mixed with Fear creates Hope/Guilt. 

There is more. If we accept that four key motivators are: defence; acquisition; mutual association and learning, then we as marketers can create an effective motivational message to reinforce the buyer’s decision. They need to be able to justify their purchase to friends and colleagues. They need to be able to purchase the product at a price relevant to value (not cost-plus). They need to be able to be confident about their choice with their peers. Marketing needs to provide them with learning stimuli to permit justification. 

While this approach appears complex, in truth the framework provides a strong structure for building a simple emotional message which can then be leveraged by visual stimuli: 

  • images of your target market in certain situations
  • hierarchical layout of headlines using the dialogue method
  • call-out panels providing “small print” detail for purchase justification
  • Testimonials from peers in your target market industry to create credibility
  • images showing a positive outcome as a result of purchase
  • Captions supporting visual stimuli
  • Value-laden copy, supported by visuals/graphs etc
  • Clear, uncluttered design to enable swift message communication

In a face-to-face situation, sales people have to operate on visual stimuli to achieve success. Chemistry is all (as indeed it is in an interview situation). So it is for marketing material – visual messages, easy readability and substantiated credibility will transform the success of your marketing. 

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