The Wrigley Field vendor had a booming voice and a tiny rubber hot dog--a powerful combination that worked wonders as he patrolled the aisles behind home plate earlier this week at the Chicago Cubs' Tuesday evening game against the Miami Marlins.
"I'm not buying a hot dog," I told him, "but can I take your picture?"
The vendor, first name of Andrew, graciously assented and confirmed what I suspected: the visual element of showing a hot dog--even a miniature, non-edible version of it--has a persuasive effect on fans who otherwise might not decide to purchase the longtime ballpark staple.
Andrew mentioned its positive impact, posed for the photograph and merrily moved along with his mini-hot dog prop securely in hand.
Do you think anyone thought he was carrying an actual hot dog? At first glance, maybe, but in short order it's pretty obvious that he is simply providing a view of a common sight to help stimulate our senses.
Nobody "needs" to see a scaled-down depiction of a hot dog to know what it looks like. But by displaying it, Andrew was going beyond the audial (hearing him proclaim the availability of hot dogs) and tapping into the visual.
It's a tactic that merits our consideration when creating a marketing or public relations campaign. What steps can we take to introduce, or expand, the visual component of that effort?
If you have to choose between showing and telling, showing is almost always the more effective route. That principle has equal application in arenas as divergent as journalistic story-telling and Amway household cleaning product sales.
Don't settle for stating a council member was "irritated at the speaker's remarks" but take the time to describe how the official shook his head and glared at the speaker as he was leaving the council chambers.
Likewise, as Amway Diamond leaders such as Shelly Kummer and Joya Baker have taught at World Wide DreamBuilders (WWDB) conferences, to make claims about a product doing wonders at removing stains from your carpet or shirt is just the start. The next step would be sharing a story (or even showing photographs) of how the product resurrected a favorite shirt that appeared doomed after getting drenched with grape juice.
Another fun, and fundamental, tact to show--and go beyond only telling--is to create a super-hero character that helps trumpet your message.
For two consecutive years, Inside Edge PR led the marketing effort for a “Shop the Village” campaign in Oak Park, Ill. The first year was dominated by red ticket stubs that merchants gave shoppers for a chance to win a weekly prize.
The next year, the theme was Super Shopper Spotter, whose red boots, red cape and red mask made for a much more entertaining, and media-friendly, way to promote the goings-on. In addition to being a lot more fun, the tongue-in-cheek “caped crusader of commerce” approach made for a much less time-consuming administrative process.
Trust me--you never want to endure the task of wading through thousands of red ticket stubs every week to pick a few winners. Besides, there's nothing visually compelling about it.