Throw some visual punches into your marketing strategy

Here’s How A Picture Really IS Worth a Thousand Words – And Can Buff Up Your Sales Copy

It is a long and well-known fact in advertising and marketing that visual appeals sell. 

Think of an ad with someone famous holding a product. It increases sales. The Product borrows some of the fame from the celebrity. If it is good enough for this well-known beautiful person, it is good enough for me. 

This is an example of the classic rhetorical ethos appeal from Aristotle. Nowadays we call this appeal credibility. The other classic rhetorical appeals are pathos and logos. Pathos appeals to emotion and logos to logic. 

In this article, I will give you one big idea about how you can “buff up” your online presence to make your message more persuasive to your customers. Both verbally and visually.

Throwing visual punches

I invite you to go on an imaginative adventure with me.

Think of a time when you made an impulse buy.

  • What was it that compelled you to buy?
  • What was it that caught your attention?
  • What kept you engaged?
  • What made you follow the push to buy?

Truth is that I don’t like to admit that I fall for these impulses. But I do. And I know that I am just as human as everybody else. 

When I think back. I think about a couple of impulse buys I have made. And what hooked me. And honestly, I got hooked by appeals that spoke to my dreams. My dreams of financial freedom. Independence. An amazing lifestyle. In other words, a picture was painted. Tapping into my dreams and emotions.

I was hooked

The next step I experienced in the sales funnel was a few statements of credibility. This product and service had helped this many people reach this promised amazing lifestyle. It happened for this and this notable person. Giving me some credibility to help me justify keeping moving further into the sales funnel. 

Then an assurance that this product had helped so many people, just like me. An argument of quantity. If it has helped this many people reach their dreams. If they succeeded, then I can too. Here the appeal starts sliding from credibility to logic. 

Then the ad continued to help me rationalize and justify the purchase. Several bonuses were visually lined up. It was pointing out that I got all these extra items for free. Making me think: “This is a decent offer. I get more value for my money.”

Towards the end of my journey in the sales funnel, I met an argument of scarcity. 

This offer is only available in this amount of time. It tickled in my fingers… “I guess, I better hurry and get it.” Appealing to my fear of not getting what I want. Not achieving my dreams…

The final visual gut punch

There I was at the end gate of the sales funnel. 

The promotion visually lined up all the benefits. Using text fonts and text style, text boxes, and small graphics to highlight the content of the deal. 

On top of that, I was promised to get my money back if I was not 100% satisfied. Made me think “What do I have to lose? This seems like a win-win.” Triggering satisfaction (emotion) and common-sense (logic).

💰So, I went on. I pushed the purchase button. I typed in the information on my credit card. Done deal.💰

This experience made me curious. 

I wanted to dive in and understand the mechanisms behind the rhetorical and visual appeals that drove me to buy. 

Proof of the power of emotional appeal

I started to look for solid proof for the power of emotional appeal that I had experienced for myself.

I came across a couple of interesting studies in my research. 

One of these studies presented this evidence regarding the persuasive power of emotional appeal: 

“People donate more than double when asked to give money for an individual about whom they have been given some personal information, compared to having been fed statistics” 

Helene Joffe

Joffe also explains why visual messages have a higher emotional impact: 

“Visuals are thought to send people along emotive pathways where textual/verbal material leaves them in a more rational, logical and linear pathway of thought”

In the same way, consumers are not trained to analyze images in the same way as text: 

“Visuals are readily absorbed in an unmediated manner because viewers are not generally provoked to reflect on or deconstruct them in the way that occurs in relation to verbal material.”

This also explains the power of photographs. News media uses photographs to confirm the ‘truth value’ of an event. That the event occurred.

You can use this knowledge to “buff up” your online presence!

Another study describes the psychological mechanisms underlying online impulse purchases. They prove how online store design affects consumers’ shopping experience. And ultimately urge an impulse purchase decision.

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Research model Young Liu et al.

Liu et al. found these key areas to increase online impulse shopping:

  • Visual appeal. Related to fonts and graphics. Enhancing the overall presentation. 
  • Website ease of use, fit-to-task, functional convenience, product availability.  
  • Interact with consumers’ personalities.

People buy with their emotions

The most important thing to know in your online marketing is the fact that people buy with their emotions. And visual material has an even higher emotional appeal than text. 

Whether your business is selling products or services. You can use this knowledge to “buff up” your persuasive power and increase your sales.

Look at your copy as a 3-course meal

Review the copy in your sales funnel in terms of a 3-course meal:

  1. Does your website offer an appetizer that provides emotional appeal? Is it getting people’s attention? Showing a captivating story? Creating images and identification? Using visual appeal?
  2. The main course is made of credibility. Does your website tell in a persuasive way why people should listen to you? Why you are the consistent expert chef in this restaurant
  3. The dessert is made of reason. It is the logical reasoning that makes it rational, even commonsense to go for the dessert. It rationalizes the buy as the logical ending of a delicious 3-course meal.

If you review your website through the lenses of a Michelin chef presenting a 5-star meal you can be sure to “buff up” your online presence. 

Use the classical rhetorical appeals pathos (emotion), ethos (credibility), and logos (logic) deliberately in your compelling persuasive content. Make sure to present a “menu” that is appealing. And like a true Michelin chef, it is all about the presentation. Throw in some visual punches to make your copy more persuasive.

If you are curious and want to know more about how I can help you “buff up” your online presence and throw some visual punches in your copy I invite you to connect with me.


About Sophie H Higgins, MA, MBA, MBC: I’m a freelance copywriter, professional speaker, philosophical business coach, and martial artist. I specialize in providing high-quality content and in helping people and businesses grow. Need a resourceful writer and professional content provider? I can help you achieve your goals.


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