I looked across the dance floor of the typical large Youngstown-style wedding reception. Past the cookie table that is so unique to our area.
Among the men and women in suits and gowns is a young male Marine, maybe 27 or 28 years old. About the same age as one of my sons. He’s a pleasant sort, with an easy smile and a ready laugh, and he’s in lively conversation with friends.
He looks sharp — standing there in his dress blue uniform with the white belt. And I see a glint of light bounce off the medals he proudly displays on his chest.
Even though I don’t even know the young man, I feel a sense of pride. “How nice,” I think.
Just then, the friend he was talking with turns to walk away and I notice something odd about the Marine’s uniform.
The right sleeve of his uniform jacket is pinned up — where his arm used to be. It catches me off-guard, and I inhale sharply.
“What’s wrong?” asks my wife, who was talking with friends at our table. “Nothing,” I say, and hope she doesn’t notice me wiping away the tear that has suddenly slipped down my cheek. “It’s just my sinuses.”
An image. A story. A connection. Think about how certain images can not only catch your attention, but change your thoughts, feelings and emotions — often rapidly, and beyond your control.
The use of powerful words (especially the right words and the right amount of words) can affect thoughts and feelings.
But the right images (videos, photos or illustrations) in any medium — on TV, on the web or printed in a magazine, newspaper or brochure — seem to do it faster and better, and are remembered longer than most words.
Effective marketing often uses a story to illustrate a point, and that story is best told with images that connect to our most important values and emotions.
An image. A story. A connection — that’s how it works.
The most powerful images connect with things that matter most to us. Positive things like love, friendship, pride, unity, joy, happiness, kindness and hope. Or negative things like fear, sadness and hopelessness.
The stories we use to get our point across don’t have to be dramatic. Just something we can recall or connect with.
Think about the carousel at the Canfield Fair. A few moms and grandparents hold their toddlers on big painted plastic horses. The kids grip the pole with a mixture of fear and excitement on their faces. Spouses and siblings take pictures with their cell phones. An image, a story, a connection.
Or how about a Sears repairman describing, in too much detail, how he fixed your washer. You nod your head as if you understand, but the only words that register are “hose,” “belt” and “covered by warranty.” But then he admires your Browns souvenirs…and says his wife likes the Steelers. An image, a story, a connection.
How about when you see the retired couple having an early-bird dinner at Perkins? She’s still his best girl after 60 years. An image, a story, a connection.
When you’re marketing your organization or yourself, advertising, speaking in public or communicating on any level — keep your words and images tied to the things that matter most: love, friendship, pride, unity, joy, happiness, kindness and hope. Or even fear and sadness if it’s honest.
It’s the most powerful way to connect to your audience and get your message across.