Humans Are Easy

The visual effect of a sales promotion offer creates an immediate emotional response from consumers.

By combining a bold offer with an impactful image our brain chemically reacts stimulating feelings of excitement and happiness

Because ninety percent of the information transmitted to our brain is visual, pleasure hormones are actually released when a consumer finds a great deal

Oxytocin levels in the brain are often increased creating a higher level of happiness when a consumer sees a sales promotional offer.

Visual content is a big reason for this reactive response.

The reality of our human genetics is that ninety percent of the information transmitted to our brain is visual.

In a sea of advertising copy, often the only thing that registers with the reader is the visually appealing deal. 

Eighty-five percent of human decision making is based on emotion and only 15% is based on logic. This is according to a famous early study in neuroscience.

Could it be as simple as combining a bold offer with an impactful image to create such a whirlwind of excitement and happiness?

By doing this can we get more consumers to use emotions in buying decisions? 

Of course we can. It’s been going on for years. 

1. Pictures Stay In Your Head

“Processing print isn’t something the human brain is built for…it (print) is an innovation of human beings.

By contrast, Mother Nature has built into our brain our ability to see the visual world and interpret it. “

The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text

No wonder social media with images are so effective, humans understand the meaning of an image in only 13 milliseconds -10 times faster than the blink of an eye

This statement was by Marcel Just, Director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University after observing MRI studies of how the brain functions.

The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

This fact about our physiology may also be interpreted as using the right image is worth 60,000 words.

Think about that the next time you are wordsmithing ad copy.

Our brains understand the meaning of a visual image in only 13 milliseconds –10 times faster than the blink of an eye, according to a recent MIT study. 

With all this data about how fast visual images make an impression on us, it’s no wonder that social media is so popular.

2. Taps Into Primal Emotions

The connection between emotional response and visual images is an inherent, primitive part of our being.

Our Primitive sight warned us of impending storms and calmed us in a field of flowers

Since the beginning of human existence, sight has been the sense that has been the most important to our survival.

The ability to see colors protected us from poisonous animals. Seeing the darkening of changing skies protected us from an impending storm.

Conversely, sight is also used to capture the splendor in the world.

Crystal clear blue water, a red sunset, or field of yellow wildflowers have had a calming effect on our minds for millennia.

Marketers in the modern world may pride themselves with being clever wordsmiths. In the end, however, it’s the basic primal visual effects that motivate people to action more than words do.

3. Places Your Customer In The Picture

Consider a sweepstakes ad. Similar to a big lottery prize, only one among many have a chance to actually win.

Yet, when an ad shows a person similar to your target customer already enjoying the sweepstakes prize, their emotional brain kicks in.  

The very thought of putting ourselves in the winner’s place has about the same effect of actually winning the prize, in the moment

The thought of being in a situation has the same effect of actually being in that place

I’ll admit it. Every time I see a sweepstakes for those exotic straw huts, with luxury accommodations, over the blue water in Tahiti I pause for a moment. In my mind,

I can almost feel myself diving into the crystal clear blue water. 

I click enter.

Then, I come back to reality and look around to see if anyone noticed me daydreaming. I haven’t won yet, but for a moment I was a winner.

 I sure get a lot of offers from participating sponsors, but for a mental moment of joy, it was worth it. 

4. Touches Emotions To Generate Response 

There is a reason for my reaction. The emotions that generate the most responses when used in a sales promotion ad are amusement, interest, surprise, happiness, delight, and joy according to a Fractl study.

Images that conjure up a blissful state improves reader retention and purchase action

Combining a visual element, that conjures up one of these emotions, are more likely to generate an action.

The highly charged emotional state, combined with a relevant image has been proven to increase how much the reader remembers by 650%. 

Your promotional offer, combined with the right imagery, will make your ad memorable and increase immediate response.

There is indeed a science behind choosing the right image.

5. Makes Us See It And Want It

It has been theorized that our desire to buy new stuff is also a primal emotion. As part of our evolution, we have a basic instinct to acquire new things to improve our chances of survival. 

Consider the impulse buying phenomenon. Impulse buyers experience great pleasure in the products they purchase, even if the purchase was unplanned or brings on guilt.

We all fall prey to impulse buying in some way, without even knowing it.

Impulse buying increases when in-store displays and signage attract the customer’s eye.

You come around the corner in a supermarket aisle.

You see a bright orange or red display with a variety of tasty treats you had no intention of buying.

Before you know it the product is in your cart. Mmm, can’t wait to dig in and taste it.

Marketers know that an end aisle display in a supermarket increases sales of the featured product by twenty percent, without even discounting the price 

This uptick in sales is derived purely from impulse buying.

Visual marketing is in full swing here. The positioning and color of the display are specifically designed to get you to buy.

The moment as you turn the corner with your shopping cart primal urges kick in. Suddenly, You absolutely need that product. 

6. Builds Trust Using Social Proof 

Using an image that goes beyond simply showing the product can accomplish many objectives.

For example, showing a mom preparing dinner for a family builds a sense of trust. 

Am image of a target consumer using your product creates trust and social proof for others to but

An image of your typical target customer using your product builds trust and creates social proof

Consumers can put themselves in that every-day situation. A loving family environment with a deep sense of delight in preparing a meal for loved ones. 

Using the image of a person similar to your target consumer inspires a type of social proof. Proof that your product is enjoyed by others like me.

Social proof is a concept that people will follow the actions of others in an effort to reflect correct behavior in a given situation.

The more people that can relate to the image you present, the better it is for product acceptance. The more people who aspire to be like your model person equates to more awareness and sales for you.

7. Social Media Enhances Social Proof

Social media is a great way to use the social proof concept. Sure recommendations and likes are excellent ways to convince others to try your product.

Showing faces along with a list of likes draws the viewer in.

Extending visual marketing within social media is a growing trend.

Social media likes converted into images applies the concept of social proof to increase your followers

While we can’t control who may post a picture of a visit to your business or the use of your product on social media, we can share the love customers give us.

Using a Facebook widget, FB likes can be shown on your site with the associated faces of those that liked your FB page.

Immediately the number of likes is converted into the smiling faces of actual people.

This form of social proof draws the visitor in and increases the likelihood that they may actually read what you have to offer.

8. Seeing Is Believing 

We’ve all seen those before and after pictures used by the sixty-six billion dollar weight loss industry.

What individual struggling with a weight issue wouldn’t believe that the advertised product wouldn’t deliver the same results for them? 

A WeightWatchers visual ad using before and after pictures is very effective in getting consumers to take action

Add a special introductory coupon offer, along with the desirable results show in the image, and sales surge.

It’s no accident that sales spike during New Year’s resolution and pre-bathing suit summer seasons. This is when emotions around weight loss are highest, and the offers and visual images promising a thinner, fitter you are everywhere. 

It’s important that the after picture has the person smiling. The concept of social smiling is an early part of our human development. From the age of three months on, we instinctively smile back at someone that smiles at us.

When we smile, we feel happy. Happiness makes us want to share our joy. Buying your product will bring us joy. it’s the circle of modern life of the consumer purchase model.

9. Colors Are Influencers 

Color has a big impact on branding and attracting consumers to your products and services.

Recently I used a black credit card for a purchase and the salesperson remarked that I must be a member of an exclusive credit card program.

When Black is used in branding it is associated with prestige and luxury

In reality, my credit card just happens to be black. Visa did tell me I was special, maybe that’s why I use their card over the others in my wallet.

Traditionally when black is used in branding it is associated with prestige and luxury.

There is an entire strategy for the use of colors. Earlier I referred to the crystal clear waters of Tahiti in a sweepestakes ad.

As it turns out, using blue is associated with water and peacefulness, calmness and serenity.

For marketing purposes, the color blue creates a sense of security and trust in a brand. It certainly had the desired effect on me in the sweepstakes ad I placed myself into.

Red subliminally creates urgency and increases impulse buying when used for a sales event

Red has the opposite effect on consumers. It increases appetite (good for restaurants), increases impulse shopping and creates a sense of urgency. It is the color most used to highlight a sales event or limited-time seasonal event.

Yellow increases cheerfulness and warmth. In marketing yellow is used to grab the attention of window shoppers and invite them in. It also stimulates communication and represents youthfulness and optimism in ads and displays.

Orange is an aggressive color. It signifies excitement and enthusiasm. It is used to create a call to action to buy now.

The color green is often associated with nature and money

Green denotes nature as well as money. Using this color in stores has a relaxing effect. It is associated with wealth, the environment and fertility depending on the context it is used.

Purple is a color often associated with royalty. It is used to soothe and calms the consumer. Often used in promoting beauty and anti-aging products, it has the effect of portraying wisdom and imagination.

10. Images And Infographics Inform 

Since a picture is worth 60,000 words it’s well worth the effort to use visuals in our marketing and sales promotion efforts.

Sixty-five percent of humans are visual learners and the rest have a short attention span.

Even images that are too complex are difficult to focus on for busy people that are skimming through copy. Simple images are more effective.

Basic infographics break down data that is too complex or boring for the average person to get through into a graphic form

Infographics are a great way to convert complex data into simple graphics. 

The basic type of infographic breaks down data into interesting pictures or graphs. It is often used to share information that is too complex or boring for the average person to get through.

As an added bonus for the reader, the graphic presentation could be both informative and entertaining.

More sophisticated infographics tell a story. Stories have a plot,  conflict and a resolution.

If you can chunk down the information is a way that it begins with an issue (plot), presents different sides of the data (conflict) and comes to a conclusion (resolution) the reader will both enjoy the ride and remember more information.

Every Picture Tells A Story

Using graphics throughout your copy or infographic tells a visual story which provides a better understanding of the information while increasing retention and recall.

Images with captions are remembered 300% more than article copy.

I am willing to bet that many readers that got to this point skimmed the copy yet read the image captions. If you did then I made my point! 












Kevin Danaher

Kevin’s career spans over 30 years where he worked for New York Sales Promotion and Advertising agencies such as Ventura Associates, and BBDO developing promotional campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands including VISA, General Electric, Kraft/General Foods, Fidelity Investments, and Chrysler. Read More