Is A Picture Really Worth 1000 Words?

This has become one of the firmly held Truths of the modern age.  And like many such seemingly wise sayings it is frequently attributed to Confucius.  However, admen developed the saying in the early 1920s when they were selling ad space on streetcars. They discovered that a picture (image) helped to increase the sales of whatever they were selling.

Techies would like us to believe that images will take over as the communication means in the future.  We will not need to use words or know how to write.  It will all be images.  The current semi-illiterate texting on smart phones may bear them out.

However, let’s get back to basics.  Is a picture (image) really worth 1000 words when it comes to selling or other types of communications?

I picked some ads from a magazine and removed the words (copy) to see how effectively the pictures would sell the product.

Below is a reasonably good image of a wine bottle with some words (even the picture needs words) to help sell whatever the ad is selling.  Not doing a great job?  What is the ad selling? Wine? Italian lessons?  You have no idea.

Now here’s the complete ad.  Ah –ha.  The ad is for a credit card and has nothing to do with wine.

Let’s look at another ad to see how well just the picture sells the product.  This is an intriguing picture (image).  Is it an ad for a safari? There you are with your iPad in hand leading your bearers carrying your stuff in suitcases deep into the trackless jungle.  Well dressed bearers too.

Maybe it’s not an ad for a safari.  That’s it.  It’s an ad for suitcases.  Ones you have to carry on your head so they don’t get messed up in the jungle as you follow your safari leader.

So, it’s selling suitcases you take on safari

Well, no.  It’s not that either.  Let’s see what happens when we add back the words (copy).

Now the ad makes sense.   It’s an ad for a bank.  Credit Suisse will lend you money to buy safari suitcases and go on safari.

One more.  This one puts some words (copy) in the image to help you understand what it is they are trying to sell you.  How effective is that?  You tell me.

You got it.  They are trying to get you into the stock market.  This guy and gal will take your hard-earned cash and put it in the market for you and make you rich.  Right?

Or is it an ad by the SEC cautioning you not to give your money to these two but to call so that they can arrest them.  See, he’s checking that nobody’s watching.

But when we add in the copy, the story changes.

Now you get it.  In the fine print CDW is telling you that they are in the Securities business.  And I thought they sold reasonably priced laptops in a warehouse environment.  But wait.   They’re not in the securities business.  They are selling hardware to the crooked guy and gal so that they can rip you off faster and more reliably.  Now it’s clear.

So, copy is still king.  Copy puts the picture in context. Without the copy the image is meaningless.  With the copy the picture helps you avoid having to write a Dickensian length description of the multi-screen set up the crooked guy and gal are using to get your money.

So next time some client tells you that he/she wants lots of pictures and minimum copy to sell the product or service show him these and ask him if he/she wants to subject his customers to this type of mental exercise.  Or would he/she like them to understand the benefits the product or service offers and send him/her money.

And remind the client that he/she hired you to help sell and not entertain.



How to Heat Up Your Business Using Warm Calling

So, why should you read another article on marketing? What I’m going to talk about complements the other methods you probably use and is a little different. And it’s based on the premise that it costs about 5 times as much to get a new client as it does to keep an existing client. That’s where warm calling comes in.
As a B2B copywriter you have a list of current and past clients. So you don’t have to develop a list as you would for cold calling. You can use many of the techniques used cold calling – smile on the phone, call early or late and use a script. To start, cull the list of people that you don’t like, did not have a good experience with or do not want to work with. Now you have your hot list.
I can just hear you saying, “I can’t call Pam to get work because I know she doesn’t have any and I don’t want to put her on the spot.” Of course, you don’t want to make your client uncomfortable and you won’t if you use warm calling techniques. In fact, they will probably be glad you called. So, you ask, how would that work?
You call your hot list of current or past clients (these are hot calls because you know and have worked with these people before). Here’s what you say:
“Hi Pam. This is Chris Brauchwerk.”
“Hi Chris!”
”Did I catch you at a bad time?” – (you don’t want to impose and you also want to be sure you have enough time to talk about what you want)
“No. What’s up?” – (If you did call at a bad time, find out what would be a better time or day to call.)
“Pam, I need your advice.” – (People like to give advice.)
“What about?”
“Pam, you know a lot about the widget industry and you are familiar with my skills. So, I was wondering if you could advise me on who in the widget industry may have a need for my skills now.”
(You are not asking Pam for work but it is clear that you are looking for work. If she does provide some names, ask for the e-mail addresses.)
Towards to end of the call casually throw out this line:
“By the way, Pam, I don’t know if you know about my policy of paying a $100.00 finder’s fee for any referrals that lead to paying work.” – (a little incentive for Pam to help you)
End of conversation.
If you get voice mail, do not get into the details. Leave a message such as.
“Hi Pam! Please call me. I need your advice. Thank you!” – (use curiosity to get her to call you back)
This script is not the only script that you can use and not necessarily the best script. But it is important that you develop a script for these calls. It will keep you focused.
Using your script, call all those on your hot list.
What will happen? One of three things may happen.
1. They don’t know of anyone who needs you right now but will keep you in mind if they hear of anything (you now have someone bird-dogging for you)
2. Your timing was great. They may have some work they need done and you get the work.
3. They give you the names of a number of people that may be able to use your skills (the main purpose of your call). These people are added to your warm list.
So now you either have more work, somebody bird-dogging for you or a list of people (your warm list) that may need your skills. Not a bad outcome for a number of pretty stress-free calls.
So what’s the next step?
You call the people on your warm list.
“Hi Jerome. This is Chris Brauchwerk.”
“Hi Chris!”
“Jerome, Pam Porteouvert over at Acme Widgets suggested I call you.” – (the “Pam suggested” line gives you an introduction and makes this a warm call not a cold call)
“How is Pam?”
“She’s great. She sends her regards. I’ve worked with Pam on a number of copywritng projects in the widget industry and she felt that you may be able to use my skills on some of your current projects.”
If Jerome does indeed have current projects find out what he needs. Go on to discuss your areas of expertise and how they may fit with the referral’s needs.
If there is no fit, ask for Jerome for advice on who to call.
If you get voice mail, do not get into the details. Leave a message such as.
“Hi Jerome! Pam Porteouvert at Acme suggested I call you.
Please call me when you get a chance. Thank you!” – (use curiosity to get him to call you back)
What will happen? Again, one of three things may happen
1. They don’t have any work for you right now but will keep you in mind if they hear of anything (you now have someone else bird-dogging for you)
2. They may have some work they need done and you get the work.
3. They give you the names of a number of people that may be able to use your skills (icing on the cake). These people are added to your warm list.
Now you may have some new work and a potential new client, somebody bird-dogging for you and a new list of people who may need you skills.
Clearly the only limit to this process is when you get no more referrals. And look what you have accomplished. The worst that can happen is you now have alerted you current and past clients that you are looking for work without asking them for work and they are bird-dogging for you. Beyond that you may have a vastly expanded hot to warm list of potential clients. You can use this list for other marketing methods you use, such as e-mail blasts, quarterly post cards or newsletters.
Be sure to thank those who helped you. Send each of your hot list current and past clients a little thank you card by snail mail. Yes, snail mail. It has more impact than e-mail.
Within reason this warm calling process can be used any time you are running low on work.
It’s almost painless; it’s free and it’s fast.