Is there such a thing as love at first sight? No doubt, but it usually takes a lot of sweet talk to close the deal.
I'm talking about product marketing, of course. (I bet you thought this was a late Valentine's Day blog.) A lot of us do fall in love with products at an initial glance. Apple can make us crave an iWhatever before we know what it actually does. One glimpse of the Alfa Romeo 4C definitely got my Italian pulse racing. Of course, art and design-based products (fashion, furniture, even foods) can spark desire with just a picture.
It makes sense, since more of the human brain is wired for visual processing than for verbal processing. For us designers, it's likely much more. That's why social media is taking a visual turn: Donna Moritz at Socially Sorted created the following infographic (an image, of course) to illustrate this shift:
Those are some great stats with some great tips as well.
In the classic AIDA funnel, an attractive image can get the customer's Attention and Interest and even fill them with Desire, but getting customers to actually take Action usually requires much more, especially with complex, high-commitment products like cars. Sure, I love the new Alfa Romeo 4C, but even if I had the money to buy one right now, I'd want to read detailed comparisons between it and my other favorite Ferrari and Maserati models.
The same goes for products like real estate, vacation destinations, even designer outfits. The vast majority of us need to read more before we put down our money or sign on the bottom line. As a designer by training, I'm the first to hype the impact of visual media. You must have great photos and design in Web-based marketing — but don't throw out the words. You still need great writing to persuade commitment-phobes, justify premium pricing (particularly for startups and new products), and get customers to buy more. (Not to mention the fact that Google's search engine still favors basic text over images.)
In social media terms, I say yes, you should use great photography and designs on Pinterest or Facebook to entice customers. But when they click to the destination site, I encourage you to use all the words you need to sell the features, benefits, special offers, and your company brand and background.
That's because in marketing, as in romance, most people need a lot of words between love at first sight and saying "I do." Or as the Italians say... mi sono innamorato. I'm in love.