Sticky Stuff of Selling“Make America Great Again.” “Just do it!” “Ideas worth spreading.”  We all know these as sound bites that capture a strategy (Trump’s election slogan), a brand (Nike), a movement (the TED talks). If, in an age of information overload, sound bites are the “sticky stuff of marketing” because they are short, catchy, and memorable, what is the “sticky stuff of selling?”

I am coining a new word to answer that question:  “Picture-Bites”

Picture-Bites are particular kinds of sound bites. They carry within them an image and, since we humans are wired to respond instantly to images more than we are to facts and logical arguments, they are the best way to drive home your points and make them both meaningful and memorable.  Think of a pile of facts and data explaining the budget deficit problem and then compare that to “fiscal cliff” as a description of those problems. Which has greater impact, greater grabbing power, and greater emotional resonance?

Picture-Bites are any communication tool that creates an image in the mind of your listener: metaphors, analogies, stories used as metaphors, cartoon, or props.

Picture-Bite Power

Picture Bites are powerful because they create common ground for understanding between you and your listener for what you are proposing, describing, or urging.   People only understand something new when it is compared to something they already know.  Then, when that comparison is made, they instantly “get” what you are saying and can move forward with you in your argument. But when they don’t “get it,” you lose them and the potential for any action.

A Confused Mind Does Not Say Yes  

I was reminded of this at a media exposition. I stopped by the booth of one of the many, many advertising network companies that seek advertisers’ media budgets for online advertising. I asked the fellow manning the booth how his firm was different from others in his space. I was immediately hosed with a flood of features and benefits, which basically came down to the fact that his company has “quality” data to help advertisers best target customers online.

I countered with the observation that everyone says they have good data (who would say they had bad data???). He replied, “Oh, but our data is really quality data. We verify each user. The others don’t.”

Still trying to understand his network’s unique value, I said, “Oh, so you’re like American Express in the sense that American Express has real buying history data of all its cardholders. Is that what you mean by having quality data?”

“Absolutely,” he said, delighted that I finally understood (no thanks to him).

Lesson Learned

It is not the prospect’s job to figure out what we do or how we are unique. That is our job as communication professionals.  This sales person was lucky that I stuck around to work out what he was selling. In our busy, A.D.D. world, most buyers don’t have the time or inclination to do that.

We live in a visual world. Just look at how people love their online videos, Facebook pictures, and Pinterest. If we want to engage, persuade, and create change, we need to recognize and respect this neurological craving for images and master the art of speaking in Picture-Bites.

7 Signs You Need a Picture-Bite. To:
1. Clear up confusion for a client.
2. Gain support for your ideas.
3. Neutralize a tough objection.
4. Simplify technically complex services.
5. Move a wavering client to a decision.
6. Distinguish your firm from the competition.
7. Wow a crowd

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is trite, but true. For sales people picture-bite are worth even more and are the key to “stickier selling.”


Anne Miller is a leading presentation and demo specialist, speaker, and coach who helps people in high stakes situations win business, sell ideas, and rally others to a cause. For more information and free ebook, visit www.annemiller.com