We take for granted that students learn in different ways. Some are visual learners. For them seeing is believing. Some are more inclined to reading. They get their information through words. Some require more hands-on activities, while for others that’s no so important.

Educators must therefore tailor the way they teach to address a variety of student learning preferences, otherwise they run the risk of a good portion of their class missing out. Try to get a point across to a visual person with a wall of words, and chances are that student will tune out. Try to dazzle a word person with pictures and images, and that student is likely to wonder, where’s the content, where’s the banana inside this peel?

Marketing works much the same way. You want to communicate a message to your target audience, but how? What is the best approach to get your message out and not only heard, but actually listened to, retained, and responded to?

We communicate most effectively when we use all five of our senses. When we can see, smell, taste, hear, and feel “something” we become more engaged and connected. Begin stripping those senses away, and our interest in something is likely to diminish.

Of course, as with our student learners, not everyone responds to marketing messages in the same way. While we all have five senses, those senses that are most dominant can vary person-to-person. Do you respond best to visuals, sounds, or the skin-to-skin contact of a good handshake?

(Marketing can be FUN! BOM video appeals to visual and audio senses—
plus to a sense of fun and creativity!)

There’s no right or wrong answer, of course. As marketers, we simply need to realize that everyone’s different in how they best collect, filter, and respond to marketing messages.

The hallmark of a well-planned marketing approach is to appeal to as many of these five senses as possible. Can you do it all at once? Probably not. It’s difficult to deliver “smell” through a Web site, though strong visual images can certainly be used as a proxy (think how an image of a gorgeous, dew-covered bouquet of roses might trigger a learned response, a memory of how the roses might smell).

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An integrated marketing plan, like those Barrel O’Monkeyz puts together for our clients, considers all the possibilities of “sense” appeal:

  • Do your Web site and other marketing collaterals offer compelling visuals? What visual first impression do you give?
  • Do your Web site and other marketing collaterals offer compelling content? Are there enough words to appeal to those who prefer to read to get their information?
  • Does your Web site offer an opportunity for prospective customers and clients to hear you, either in video (where they can also see you) or through audio clips?
  • Can prospective customers request samples of your product?
  • Do you give live presentations or seminars pitching your product or service to potential clients, customers, investors? What visual, tactile (touch), taste, or aromatic “weapons” can you deploy to set the tone for these engagements? If you offer a food product or fragrance, think of the impact having samples available in the room would create. Product samples, promotional items, even collateral materials are usually a big hit, something to remember your marketing message by long after the presentation is over. And don’t limit yourself only to presentations to appeal to the senses of touch/taste/smell, especially if you have retail or bricks and mortar space. To illustrate, consider how bath product and fragrance stores (or counters within department stores) have been using fragrance for years to appeal to customers and leave lasting impressions.
  • If you don’t offer a product that lends itself to touch/taste/smell, don’t overlook the power that certain scents and sounds have to set the energy level for a presentation. Consider adding a little “aromatherapy” to your marketing toolkit, or some background music to either lighten the mood or liven it up.

Clearly, the right marketing mix depends greatly on your company’s products and services, and your target clients. The most effective marketers try to appeal to more than just one or two of their prospective customers’ senses.

What has your experience been? Can you think of ways to grow your marketing “sense appeal” beyond just visuals and the written word?

Share your experiences and ideas here.


University of San Diego’s 4th Annual “Wine Classic” Fundraiser Benefitting Student Scholars, July 22—Barrel O’Monkeyz is proud to sponsor this event featuring wineries from throughout California and Mexico, with more than 50 wines available for sampling. Visit http://www.sandiego.edu/wineclassic/ for more information.

Southern California Venture Network (www.Scvn.Org) “General Mixer” May 29—This event is a great networking opportunity put on by the SCVN, a group of C-level executives and high-end service providers who share an interest in supporting emerging businesses.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 29, 5:45 to 8:30 pm.
WHERE: On the patio at Itriya Cafe, a trendy Italian/Korean fusion concept restaurant, located in the parking lot of the Diamond Jamboree center (2740 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA 92606).
ATTEND FOR FREE: Attendance is Free with online RSVP, otherwise it’s $15 cash at the door.
PARKING: Parking is free, but the lot can get crowded after 6:00 pm (more free parking is available in a nearby big structure for late arrivers).
RSVP: For more information and to RSVP online by May 28, visit http://scvnmay2012mixer.eventbrite.com.

This is a great way to get back into the networking groove post-Memorial Day weekend. See you there!