Author and social psychologist, Robert Cialdini has conducted a very interesting experiment (Brandwashed, Martin Lindstrom, 2012). In this experiment, about 700 volunteers were brought into an auditorium, ostensibly to fill in a survey. The real purpose of the experiment though, was the glass jar of cookies on the researchers' front desk.
In stage one, the jar was filled to the brim with cookie deliciousness, and when the researcher asked if anyone would like a cookie, about a fifth of the people took him up on the offer.
In stage two, many of the cookies were removed from the jar so that it would look as if others had already taken one. Again, when offered, only about a fifth of the respondents opted to enjoy a cookie.
Stage three is where it gets interesting.
Before the researcher could offer a cookie to the group, a gent walked into the auditorium, opened the jar, and took a cookie for himself. This time, when respondents were offered a cookie, nearly all of them took one.
Monkey see, monkey do
This experiment is interesting for a bunch of reasons (yes some of them have to do with the deliciousness of cookies!).
Mostly though, it's fascinating because it clearly shows us that human beings are more inclined to want something that another person has already got. And this is marketing gold.
Any marketing you do has one clear message to get across to the potential customer: this is what's in it for you.
Luckily we have a myriad of means at our disposal to achieve this goal, and it all starts with the imagery you choose.
This could be you!
People imagery is used in all kinds of advertising, across all media.
When you think about it, it makes sense - the imagery enables people to see themselves in that role, with that product, achieving the goals they've set for themselves. A well-structured image therefore, empowers people to dream.
When you engage someone's hopes and aspirations, you create and generate positive feelings inside of the person, and those feelings are what get anchored to your brand. You can hear people who've bought into brands in this way through the language they use: my Estee Lauder, my BMW.
These people have identified personally with the brand and made it a part of who they are - a part of their very identity. And loyalty like that is something you'll never be able to buy!
In another interesting experiment conducted by the BBC, when young children were shown pictures of other kids and asked to identify who was popular and who they liked, all of them chose the photos of people smiling.
What was discovered subsequently is that people feel better when they are around people who smile - not just about the other person, but also within themselves.
First impressions last
So much more than just what pleases you, the imagery you choose has a strong positive or negative influence on the people who view your marketing - and in our fast-paced world of snap decisions and instant gratification, you very often won't get a second chance to make a first impression.
Unfortunately, first impressions do last - even when they aren't logical or quantifiable.
We live in a world where digital media has exposed people to a wide variety of ongoing imagery and content - to the point where digital consumers are fast becoming graphic connoisseurs.
In addition, the pervasiveness of the digital space means that your marketing no longer happens in isolation - all your competitors are a mere click away, and it's easy for people to view two competitive lots of marketing side by side.
So what is it that makes your marketing stand out from the crowd?
How have you differentiated yourself? How have you aimed to engage your client's heart and mind?
And most importantly, when you look at your marketing, are you left in absolutely no doubt as to what's in it for you?
Chemory Gunko is the MD and creative director of Dsignhaus, a B2B marketing services agency with in-depth and specialist knowledge in the field of digital marketing. For more, go to www.dsignhaus.co.za, email her on or follow @dsignhaus on Twitter.
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