Let’s face reality. Your prospects’ inboxes are overflowing, their social media feeds are filled with your competitors’ updates, and the first three pages of their Google searches contain articles that look just like yours. Content is blending together into a single lump.
In today’s content-filled world, a typical content piece is not just a tree surrounded by forest — it’s a pine tree surrounded by an evergreen forest. If you’re not doing content differently, your prospects will be lost in the evergreen mass.
So, how are you going to catch your prospects’ attention? How will you make them see your value? Cranking out ever-more content isn’t working. The answer lies in reconnecting with basic human psychology.
Communicate with sensory images
Our brains are wired to respond to sensory images. We notice them and we remember them.
In 2006, researchers in Spain reported in NeuroImage that when subjects’ brains were being scanned while reading words with strong odor associations, the fMRI showed their primary olfactory cortex lighting up. When they read neutral words, that region of the brain stayed dark.
Another study, published this year in The Journal of General Psychology, illustrates the influence of mental imagery on memory. In this study, researchers told one group of participants to use mental pictures to remember a list of words, while they told another group simply to remember the words. Those who were told to create mental pictures for the words were better able to remember them. Merrin Oliver, the study’s first author, said: “Creating images improved participants’ memories and helped them commit fewer errors, regardless of what kind of list we gave them.”
These are just two examples of myriad studies that demonstrate the power of sensory images.
Using words that involve the senses in marketing can catapult your success in content marketing because you’re enabling your prospects to truly “get a sense” of how you can help them, and they’re better able to remember what you’ve communicated.
Here are 3 literary tools you can use to infuse your marketing with sensory images.
A simile compares two different things, saying one is “like” the other or shares the same characteristic “as” the other. Using a simile, you can give your audience a concrete way to think about an abstract concept. They bring an image to the reader’s mind, locking it into memory.
While there are hundreds of familiar similes (“strong as an ox,” brave as a lion,” “bright as the sun”), the real power lies in original similes. Make up your own!
A metaphor compares two different things directly—it states that something is something else. The effect is the same as a simile, but it’s another important tool to have in your communication toolbox.
An example of a metaphor would be the image that opened this article: “is a pine tree surrounded by an evergreen forest.” I could have just said “doesn’t stand out” — but that’s boring and easily forgettable.
Imagery involves the senses of the reader—it engages the reader in a way that simple, straightforward statements can’t.
Using imagery is as easy as adding rich description to your writing. Consider words that will help readers see, feel, hear, what you are talking about. Imagery goes hand-in-hand with storytelling. Any time you can show through a story, rather than simply tell what you have to say, you’ll be a more effective communicator.
For example, you can share anecdotes and personal experience stories, painting a picture of the environment, and describing feelings and emotions associated with the event.
Imagery is especially useful in blog posts and articles. How many boring introductions have you read that left you uninspired and unsure if you should continue spending time reading the rest of the article? Using imagery can help you grab readers’ interest and pull them into the body of your post.
A few tips
Your sensory images will be most effective if you keep in mind a few tips.
- Stay away from cliches. Think beyond the obvious and what first comes to mind. However, if you think of a cliche that’s just too appropriate not to use, putting a twist on it can freshen it up.
- Customize sensory images to your audience. What hobbies, interests, and experiences of your audience could you draw from? Use word pictures that will resonate with them.
- Practice! At first, trying to come up with sensory images can be frustrating, because most of us don’t naturally think this way. (Which is why jargon and abstract terms are so common—and why it’s so easy to stand out with just a simple sensory image.) But practice will stretch your mental muscles, and you’ll get better (and faster) at it over time.
Using sensory images makes for stronger communication—you’ll capture attention, and readers will remember what you say. Most SaaS content is a sensory desert, so using sensory images is one of the best ways to make your content stand out from your competitors’.
By the way, here are three ways I can help you attract and convert your ideal customers:
1. For marketing teams at B2B SaaS companies, take the free Content Strategy Quiz to see how your strategy measures up and learn how you can improve.
2. For tech startups, grab my free workbook on how to craft a messaging platform that gets prospects excited about what you offer.
3. Schedule a call to share what’s holding you back from better marketing, and I’ll let you know if I can help and how. If I can’t help, I’ll recommend someone who can.