Does Your Marketing Venue Establish a First Mental Image?
Guest Post by Irene Watson
According to a Yankelovich study conducted in 1978 we typically saw around 2000 advertising images per day. Thirty years later, in 2008, the same type of study indicated we saw over 5000 advertising images per day. Like you, my first reaction was “no way!” But, think about it. When you are driving on a street, how many store signs, directory signs, and billboards do you see? When you stand at the gas tank pumping your gas, how many signs do you see on the tank? Look around your desk; how many things are on your desk that have a logo or name on it? Open your pantry door and look at all the items in there. Even clothes have logos on them. Or, what about on the internet? Advertising is everywhere!
So, why am I telling you this? Because, we, as an authors, are competing with all those images. It’s important to create our own brand and be sure our marketing techniques are memorable to the potential reader. It could seem like an overwhelming task if we aren’t cognizant of how the brain works. It’s easy when you know how it works, but unfortunately many “experts” in the publishing industry don’t and charge mega-bucks for marketing/publicity that doesn’t work.
The most important thing is to create the first mental image that is memorable. It could be in words or pictures. As soon as we see a specific check mark, we know it’s Nike without having to read the word. And we immediately know it has to do with a whole gamut of products. Those that follow the studies of the Yankelovich Research Company will recognize the word Yankelovich without having Research Company attached. Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code are synonymous. We can say either one and we immediately envision the book or movie. This is exactly what we want when we create our marketing campaigns, websites, and books. And, it’s all to do with the brain function. Knowing how the brain functions is an extremely important factor to know when creating our brand.
Recently we were creating a video for an author whose book has a theme of breast cancer. Our video producer put in several images of a bald woman which made the author upset. The author claims not all breast cancer patients have chemo or lose their hair. This is true, and there is no argument there. However, our brain doesn’t recognize that on the first mental image. When we see a bald woman we immediately think cancer and our brain switches into that mode. If the first mental image was of a woman with a full head of hair our mind could go into the mode of the last shampoo commercial we saw. In this case, our video producer reiterated the first mental image with a second and third image of a bald woman to really set the representation in the mind of the potential reader. Adding women with hair diminishes the thrust of the video and loses its important message. The jury is still out whether or not I can convince the author of this.
Another example is your book cover. What is the first mental image? Does it have anything to do with the content of the book? Not long ago a how-to book on public speaking arrived in this office. The cover was a lovely sunset in oranges and browns. What has that got to do with public speaking? The first mental image would be a reflection to the last time we saw a beautiful sunset and certainly not the last time we attempted to do public speaking. A better first mental image would be a person standing at a podium. (btw – this same cover appeared on two other books that we received for review – different author, different genre, same cookie-cutter cover.)
How about your website? What is the first mental image? Does your banner reflect you or the book? Or is it a cookie-cutter template that many others have and has nothing to do with the book or content?
Does that give you enough to start looking around and realizing why the first mental image is of so much importance? Don’t be one of the 5000+ images seen in one day; be one of the 3 or 4 that are remembered. And, remember, you have only one chance to set the first mental image in the mind of the potential reader. All your social networking, tweeting, press releases, or other venues aren’t going to move the dial on the who-gives-a-crap-meter unless you are able to establish a memorable first mental image.
Did I just give you something to think about? I want to hear your comments.