Q: I read in one of your books that in a branding campaign, the targeted customer needs to be exposed to your ad at least three times per week, every week for a year, in order for your name to go into long-term memory. According to what I've been told by local radio sales reps, I could accomplish this on any one of their stations with about 21 ads each week. But I'm in the diamond business, and diamonds are a visual product. And since we also remember more of what we see than what we hear, I want to advertise in a visual medium. Dollar for dollar, would you recommend that I advertise in the newspaper or on TV, or should I send out direct-mail catalogs?
A: First, let me challenge your statement that "diamonds are a visual product." The reasons for purchasing a diamond aren't visual at all. They're emotional. When a man buys a diamond, he's paying for the reaction of the woman he loves. Don't show him a diamond in your ads. Instead, cause him to imagine her reaction. Likewise, women enjoy wearing diamonds only because of the real or imagined reactions of others. Would a woman wear diamonds if she were stranded alone on a desert island?
Secondly, one of the greatest myths in the world today is that "we remember more of what we see than what we hear." In fact, quite the opposite is true. That great scientist of the eye, Josef Albers, says it quite plainly in chapter one of his landmark book, Interaction of Color: "The visual memory is very poor in comparison with our auditory memory."
Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio? Ever stopped to think about it? You can close your eyes, but you cannot close your ears. Sound is invasive, intrusive and irresistible. You hear and retain information even when you're not listening. You hear even when you're fast asleep. How else would you know there's a burglar in the house?
The primary gift of the human creature is our ability to attach meanings to sounds. This is accomplished in three highly specialized parts of your brain--Broca's area, Wernicke's area and the Auditory Association area. In fact, your physical ability to coordinate the movements of your diaphragm, larynx, tongue and lips so that you can produce human speech is also owed to Broca's Area, a specialized extension of Auditory Association into the Motor Association cortex.
Ever been lying in bed reading a book and suddenly realize that you've been scanning the same paragraph over and over for a very long time and you have no idea what it says? Yes, your eyes were sending the written symbols to your brain, but those symbols were no longer being translated into the sounds they represent. The written word has no meaning until the brain has translated it into the spoken word it represents. According to neurologists, it takes the average reader approximately 28 percent longer to understand the written word than to understand the same word when spoken. This is because the written word must be translated into the spoken word before it can be understood.
If I were a jeweler, I would advertise aggressively 52 weeks a year on the radio and then use my Web site as a round-the-clock, instantly deliverable catalog to provide the customer with such details as finance options, product warranties, my company history and a map to the store. However, I don't think most customers are ready to buy your jewelry over the Internet just yet. So design a Web site that assists visitors logging on to research your products. It should offer some pretty pictures, communicate your message and entice potential customers to visit your physical store.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.