The Ear Is Quicker Than the Eye
Repeated studies show that the ear works much faster than the eye: in fact, the mind is able to understand a spoken word in 140 milliseconds, while it takes 180 milliseconds to understand the printed word. Psychologists believe the 40-second millisecond delay occurs when the brain translates visual data (in this case, the printed word) into aural sounds it can understand.
Similarly what you hear is retained longer in your memory than what you see. A visual image can fade in one second, while an auditory "image" can last four or five times as long. Because sound lasts much longer in the mind, the spoken word leads to greater clarity of thought than a picture does. Plus, the tone of the human voice gives words an emotional impact that printed works alone can't impart.
"There is much evidence that the mind works by the ear, that thinking is a process of manipulations sounds rather than images (even when pictures or photographs are involved). As a result, you see what you hear, not what the eye tells you it has seen."
Implications for Advertising
Are visuals worth all the money that is spent on them?
Not if you consider that, to consumers most categories of products – cars, computers, appliances, toothpastes, toilet tissues – pretty much look alike. What is different is the intangible ideas attached to them. BMW has "driving," Apple owns "ease of use." Maytag has "reliable." Crest means "cavity prevention." Charmin is "squeezable." But while they may look alike, they don't sound alike.
Written language must be processed by the mind into an internal form of ORAL languages. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that the ear drives the eye, and the ear works the mind. Thinking is a process of manipulating sounds, not images. As a result, you see what you hear – and what the sound has led you to expect to see – not what the eye tells you it has seen.
"Radio has brand-building power all by itself. Marketing plans aren't dependent on pictures, but they do need words or sounds. Radio's sound brings an ability to capture the emotional content of the human voice."
The implications of these findings are staggering. In many ways, they call for a complete reorientation from the visual to the verbal point of view. The visual still will play an important role in communications – but the verbal should be the primary driver, while the pictures reinforce the words.
Consumers spend 85% of their time with ear-oriented media such as Radio and TV, but spend on 15% of their time with such eye-oriented media as newspapers and magazines.
Yet advertisers spend 55% of their dollars on eye media (print) and only 45% of their dollars on ear media.
So What Does This Mean to You?
Since marketing (and branding) is a matter of successfully creating a positive association for your product or service in the mind of the consumer,
And since the mid works by manipulating sounds rather than images,
Then Radio, the premier sound medium, is one of the best ways to directly influence the minds of consumers.
Jack Trout is the author of Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, Marketing Warfare, bottom-Up Marketing, and The New Positioning.