Little But NOT Nothing


What do football helmets and hypodermic needles have in common?

Little but NOT nothing.

Steroid juicing? Painkiller addiction? Hmm... fascinating!

The image with this article of a football helmet spilling over with hypodermic needles is from a current issue of ESPN Magazine. The photo triggers both a wince and a double take, halting readers and provoking them to read the first sentence of the article.

Little but NOT nothing.

What a beautiful phrase for marketers to keep in mind.

When two images with the smallest hint of a connection are juxtaposed, readers are compelled to seek understanding. The brain begins firing questions and drilling for the relationship link. "Helmets? Needles? Should I understand this? The data seems vaguely familiar but does not compute. Need... more... info." And so the reader begins to read. Success!

Little but NOT nothing.

How can you employ this concept in your own small business or personal marketing efforts? First, isolate a single benefit message. It's a natural temptation to cram all the irresistible advantages of your product or service into your marketing pieces. If you can't decide on your top benefit, ask ten customers. Then, you'll know.

Perhaps you sell a new industrial-grade sump pump for home owners that can remove water 4 times faster than a standard residential unit. What images can you combine that aren't too closely related? Bad examples might include a water-filled room with floating furniture or a frowning home owner standing waist deep in a flooded room. To avoid cliches like these, throw out images or ideas that have been fused so often that their connection has become obvious.

Instead, think two powerful objects with a faint relationship that will evoke emotion. For the brain to be intrigued, it must be forced to make a cognitive leap.

Picture this. A door frame where a family has marked their child's growth is under water up to the line that reads, "Katie at 5 years." The brain goes wild! "Growth charts? Waist-high water? What about the marks for her first four years?" The lead in to the ad might read, "Preserving your memories in a flood depends on how fast you remove the water. Irreversible damage can begin in less than 12 hours. Can you keep up with your pump? With ours can, you can."

Little but NOT nothing may mean EVERYTHING when it comes to getting responses and results from your next marketing campaign. Try it and tell me how it turns out.