Marketing to All the Senses — in Writing?

Why do you think food shows are so popular on TV? Well, apart from the fact that most of us like to eat, of course, and also to find different things to enjoy.

Perhaps it goes deeper than that, though. Traditionally, we have five senses*, and most entertainment only engages two of them at most: sight and sound. On a TV show, we can really only see the images and hear the sound, but a well-presented food show can make us feel we can also touch, smell and (of course) taste the dishes being prepared.

That’s what really hooks us. The textures of the vegetables, meat, fish or fruit, rough or smooth to the touch. The intoxication of spices filling your head or the subtle scent delicately infiltrating. The rich flavour exploding onto your tongue, or the sweetness that keeps returning long after the last mouthful is gone.

A really good food show can make you experience all of these.

Marketing is the same. What do we have to fascinate and tempt our market? Words and images on a page or screen, and perhaps the sound and vision of a video or two, but what chance is there to engage the other senses?

Just as food shows can create the illusion of smell, taste and touch, so can great marketing communication. It’s easiest if you’re marketing a physical product, of course. How great is it to give your prospective customers an idea of what your product feels like? And maybe even what it smells and tastes like — though perhaps not if you’re selling car parts.

But you don’t need to give up if you’re an accountant or a designer. Or a copywriter. Expert marketing can touch off synaesthesia in the audience — the scent of the words, the taste of the images, the feel of both.

Just as the food being cooked on TV can make your mouth water and your nostrils flare, even though what you’re watching is really miles away and months ago, great communication can convey the smell of quality, the taste of excitement and the touch of inspiration.

* Of course, there are actually more than five, but senses like balance, temperature and proprioception somehow don’t engage us with the same intensity.

Image: The Five Senses (1832) by Jean Bernard

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