By Roy H. Williams
You are awakened by the smell of breakfast. Slipping on your clothes, you step out onto the deck of the ship just as the sun rises over the ocean. You never knew the sky could hold so many colors... or that breakfast could taste so good… or that you could feel so alive. Sailing with your friends to a place you’ve never been, everyone is having the time of their lives. You’re glad you called that number. What was it again? Oh yes... one eight hundred blue sky... You’ll never be able to look at a blue sky again without remembering this trip...and smiling.
A customer can do nothing that he has not “seen himself do” in his mind. The goal of advertising is to cause your customer to imagine doing the thing you want him to do. Your ads must cause the customer to see himself watching the sunrise, sailing with friends, calling that number. It all happens in the brain.
Mental imagery or “seeing things” in the mind, takes place on the brain’s Visuospatial Sketchpad, one of the three functions of working memory. Common sense would tell us that the Visuospatial Sketchpad would be contained in the Visual Association Area at the back of the skull.
But then common sense would be wrong.
All three functions of working memory, including the Visuospatial Sketchpad, are located in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Association Area (DLPFC), a bridge between the Auditory Association Area (near the ear) and the Prefrontal Cortex (behind the forehead, the seat of planning, emotion, and judgment). This DLPFC Bridge crosses the motor association area, the “action” part of the brain. It is on this DLPFC Bridge that your customer “sees” himself taking action.
When your customer sees things in his imagination, like the sun rising over the ocean, the part of the brain he’s using is not connected to his eyes, but is connected to his ear. (This is true even when the mental images have not been triggered by a verbal description.)
Words, when spoken well or artfully written, cause your customer to see things in his mind, things that you want him to actually experience. This is why your choice of words is singularly vital to the success of your ads. Other decisions, such as font, colors, illustrations and style are merely supportive of the words you’ve chosen. Yes it’s the words that count most, even when you advertise in print.
It’s always the words.