“Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once” – Chinese proverb.  

And here’s a case in point. What’s more powerful?  Someone telling you Lord Sugar paid £58,646,028.44 to HMRC, or seeing a copy of the actual cheque? The picture really brings the magnitude of what he actually did to life doesn’t it? How does it make you feel imagining him writing it out?

And that’s the very nature of good marketing imagery – it needs to be different enough to capture your target audience’s attention and invoke emotion – 80% of buying decisions are emotive and 20% are logical. If you are trying to grab attention with a thousand words, how an earth are you going to capture people’s interest. Especially when you consider we are exposed to over 2,000 advertisements a day on average.

So let’s talk about imagery and making your message stand out. You typically have 3 seconds to grab someone’s attention. If they give you 3, they’ll give you 15 more. And if you achieve that, you’ll likely get another 300 seconds.

Now you know this, what do you do with it? Well, may I offer up the following thoughts….

3 seconds – make sure you have a really great image and/or headline to stand out and capture attention. Do not waste this precious time and space by putting your logo at the top of your advertising because, frankly, no-one cares (apart from you and your Mum).

15 seconds – you now need to engage with your audience powerfully enough so that they’ll want to spend their precious time understanding your message in more detail. Talk about them, not you. Build up their interest. Help them to quickly pick out the messages that are relevant to them by using additional images, bullets and subheadings. Break up the text to make your points stand out.

300 seconds – use this time to explain what’s in it for them. Again, this is not about you. Help them understand how what you’re offering can help them in a real way. The main way of doing this is by appealing to their personal needs and wants.

Then finally have your call to action – phone, email, register, buy now, whatever it is.

So if we know this method works, why then is it that so many small businesses cram their web pages and brochures and adverts with so much text and poor imagery when, well, a picture grabs attention much quicker than 1,000 words does?

I’m sure we can all think of advertising messages and images that that are so similar we’ve no idea which brand they are intended to represent.  Take for example the estate agent favourite – a picture of house with “SOLD IN YOUR ROAD” all over it, followed by “Call us for your free, no-obligation valuation”. Remind me, which estate agency brand uses that tactic – oh yes, they all do.  So which one should I contact, because, well, they’re all the same aren’t they? Well that’s what their imagery and messages tell me. And it’s a shame, because it’s a really powerful, positive message with the inference being they know how to solve your house selling problems. But it lacks imagination, and punch, and distinctive imagery, and differentiation.

So how do you avoid the bear traps….?

Well, start by looking at all your advertising, design and website layout and apply the 3, 15, 300 model. And whilst you’re doing that you may as well review your competitors’ advertising too – what it looks like and what it says.  Then decide if you stand out? If you are visibly different? Memorable? And then change it up, take chances with your copy, with your headlines, with your layout, and with your offers.

But most importantly, take chances with your imagery. Make bold statements, keep the copy, headline and offers text-light and the design image heavy.  Make it emotional. Do something different and stand out (even if it is a tad scary)! Test & measure all your results. Repeat what works, discard what doesn’t.

And then book more orders.

If you would like to review your company’s advertising and brand presentation, get in touch and let’s apply the 3, 15, 300 lens. It might be scary. It might also change your business.