This is Your Brain on Marketing

This is Your Brain on Marketing

Remember the 1980s public service announcement: “This is your brain on drugs. (Egg sizzles in a hot frying pan.) Any questions?”

As kids, we all made fun of the ad, and it became the meme of its time. But it made an impression. It had a short, simple message with a shocking image. No long explanations or backstory. No keywords. No stock photos of teenagers gone bad. 

It was a message that cut through the noise.

How could something so simple be so effective?

In my experience, marketers overthink things.

We have so many tools. So many trends. So many ways to measure things.

We like to see what others are doing. We like to experiment with whatever people are talking about.

Sometimes we forget about how well print works.

The fact is, print marketing has a long, proven track record of success. Print comes into the game as a high scorer. Print can tell a story. Make a point. Stimulate emotions. Create a memorable moment. It can even be shocking.

From the feel (and sound) of the paper to the smell of the ink to the look of color and images, print captivates the senses.

Print breaks through the noise. 

We’re all distracted and unfocused. If you’re interrupting someone with a marketing message, you’d better be more interesting and compelling than whatever else they’re looking at or doing at the moment. That’s hard to do if your prospect is online, checking emails, watching videos, or being entertained.

But……. it’s pretty easy to be the most interesting thing in a pile of mail. Picture this. You’re going through your daily stack, deciding what to keep, take a second look at, or recycle.

“Recycle??” you say, aghast. “We don’t want our mailpiece to be thrown away!”

Let’s be realistic. A print-mail item will travel from the mailbox to the household decisionmaker’s hand, to their eyeballs and brain, to a decision point to keep the piece or not. If you’re lucky, your target has Informed Delivery and has seen your mailpiece in their inbox as well.

That’s a good long time to be viewed, pondered, and maybe even remembered — even if the recipient tosses it in the end.  

A piece of mail puts your brand and message in front of a prospect for almost 10 seconds — which is three times longer than most digital consideration points such as an email subject line, social post, or video pre-roll.

Ten full seconds of undivided attention and an actual “moment of consideration” where the prospect calculates you as an option — that’s one of the most effective marketing moments in today’s distracting world. 

Plus, if your print message is better than most — maybe even as memorable as an egg sizzling in a hot pan — then you might even make it into the cultural lexicon.

Or at least into the “keep” pile. 

People everywhere are overwhelmed with being marketed to. Let’s do something different — something we know has a history of success — and choose print.

If you’re a printer, you know print and mail work great together.

If you’re a marketer, talk to your printer.

Any questions? 

Share your favorite public service announcements or commercials from your childhood, and be sure to read more posts from Sandy here.  


Sandy Hubbard is a relentless advocate for the power of print. As a Marketing Strategist and Consultant, she helps printers develop strong cross-channel marketing programs that catch the attention of new customers. You can find @sandyhubbard every Wednesday hosting #PrintChat.

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