How to paint a picture with your ad copy that your customers will remember long after seeing your message.
Think back about some of the most memorable experiences in your life. What comes to mind — a bunch of WORDS, or a complete mental picture? Well, unless you are a robot who thinks in binary code, your favorite memories are probably rooted in rich images, tastes, smells and sounds. It’s the richness of this “visualization” which makes our most cherished experiences truly memorable.
You should take this same principle to heart when you are trying to reach an audience with a persuasive message. Your customers will react much more strongly to a message that “conjures” up strong images and emotions. Customers don’t really buy benefits or features — they buy an IMAGE of themselves using the product and getting those benefits and advantages. If you can help make that image into a positive one, one that creates feelings of happiness and satisfaction, they will probably buy your product.
To capture these kinds of feelings, you want your words to paint a picture in the minds of your audience — a picture that they can keep with them long after the exact words of your message have faded from memory.
But how can you do this? The key here is creating the image in your mind FIRST, and then using your language to evoke that same image in the minds of your customer. Here are some tips for how you can make your words create that kind of mental picture:
- Use expressive language. Don’t be afraid to use adjectives or phrases that describe the EMOTIONAL aspects of your product or service. Try to describe to your customers how using your product or service will make them feel.
The best way I have found to evoke feeling is to think about how I felt when I used the product and then turn my experience into customer-directed “imagine feeling like this” statements. For instance, if you were promoting a reading comprehension course for children, you could look back at your own experiences as a parent and say something like, “Imagine the feeling of quiet pride you will have as you watch your child read their first book by themselves.”
- Be specific. Brevity might be the soul of wit, but details are the spice of life. Details provide nice reference points for visualization. They are like little clues that help the customer create the desired image in their mind. “Imagine yourself on a boat” does not have the same evocative feel as “Imagine yourself on the deck of your sailboat, gazing at the sunset as the breeze blows through your hair.” The latter sentence might be hokey, but it creates a much fuller picture, doesn’t it?
Be clear. Nothing will ruin a mental image faster than a confusing or unclear idea. I don’t know how many times I’ve been reading about a “business opportunity” and found myself wondering, “what in the world are they talking about?” When you try to figure out a question like that, you are using most of your mental capacity to analyze, NOT to visualize.
- Use the audience’s experience to help you. Remember that your audience has a wealth of experiences that you can draw upon. This works well because you can create a lot of detail with just a few words. The “trick” is knowing what your audience has experienced and using that knowledge appropriately.
For example, if you were trying to evoke the great, yet scary, feeling of starting your own business, you could call upon your audience’s experiences by saying, “Think back on the day on the day you first rode your bike without the training wheels” — since most of us have had this experience, we would just fill in the mental picture with our own details — Presto! A complete visualization created in only 17 words!
Being able to help your customers visualize is the difference between writing text that is simply informative, and writing text that is truly provocative. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but remember that a few words can often cause your audience to paint a picture in their minds — a picture that you can use to show the qualities of your product or service.
Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley’s . Ron works with business speakers and writers, helping them with their copy-writing, marketing, and Internet promotion. Reach him at or 801-328-9006.