Why Visuals Are the Most Powerful Way to Sell Anything

Symbols to get your message across to customers — and make it stick

Lee Carter
Marker
Published in
6 min readSep 9, 2019

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Illustration: Dan Woodger

InIn my old office, I had a wall of Post-it notes with my least-favorite words. The top two offenders were moist and dangle, words that make me, and most people, cringe. When I see an ad with those words in it, I honestly question if the company wants to sell their product. When my last headshot was taken, those two Post-its ended up in the frame. Prospective clients of my research and language strategy firm, would always ask me, “Why is your head framed by the words moist and dangle?!” and I would tell them about my office wall.

As our relationship progressed, I’d meet people higher in the chain of command, and they’d invariably say, “Lee! You’re the woman with the wall of words!” It was such a memorable image they had shared it internally. It was becoming part of my master narrative. The wall was the symbol in the story of my decades-long commitment to curating language based on its visceral quality. And it told that better than my saying “I’m committed to curating language” ever could.

When our partner Keith Yazmir joined the firm, he sensed from his first day that people were trying to make sense of what this new guy was all about. Instead of sitting everyone down and saying, “Hey, guys, relax — I’m not going to step on any toes, I’m here to have fun,” which would have had the exact opposite effect, he sent out an email inviting the entire company to Thirsty Thursday in his tiny office. When we congregated in the seven-by-10 space, there was food, cocktails, and music, even decorations. It was a concrete, visual demonstration of his humor and personality. Not only did it break the tension, it shaped his entire tenure here. We all look forward to Keith’s office parties and wry sense of humor.

Almost every day, I have to impress upon a client that telling their customers that they believe in something or are committed to something is almost useless without a clear visual to back it up. Because it’s visuals that stick in our minds. We think in pictures. If you can plant a positive picture in the mind of whomever you’re trying to persuade, you are that much closer to getting what you want.

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Lee Carter
Marker
Writer for

Word geek, messaging guru, public opinion expert and author of Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter.