The First Banks Lesson: People Hear What They See

A researcher once asked twenty business owners what several First Bank's commercials were communicating - and shocked the creators.

These commercials featured an attorney preparing to climb Everest. His preparation included studying previous climbs, weather patterns, and other pertinent information. The Bank's explicit message, intoned by the announcer, was that success in anything requires information, and that First Banks had "the information you need to make good financial decisions."

But the people watching the commercial didn't hear the words. They saw the pictures, most of which showed the attorney practicing rock climbing. From those pictures, those people decided that First Banks was saying it was strong and solid, like the man and mountain, apparently - a message totally unintended by the people who created the commercial.

People hear what they see. A memorable 1980 ad for an interior decorator in Portland, Oregon, suggested it:

"The longer your office says 'Struggling Young Attorney'," the headline read, "the longer the struggle."

People cannot see your service. So, as the ad reminds us, they judge your service by what they can see. If people see one thing while you are saying another, the First Banks example shows that seeing really is believing: People will trust their eyes far before they will ever trust your word s.

Look at your business card. Your lobby. Your shoes. What do your visibles say about the invisible thing you are trying to sell?

Watch what you show.