Marketing Without Words

This is a true story. Each Saturday a farmers’ market is held in downtown Riverhead, N.Y. In the spring, summer and fall it is lovely. The vendors all have pop-up tents along the Peconic Riverwalk and, having been to farmers’ markets from Florida to Hawaii, I can honestly say that this is the prettiest farmers’ market I have ever been to. When it is nice outside I go just because it is a nice Saturday morning outing.


Elizabeth Mansfield

In the winter, not so much. The winter location for the Farmers’ Market is essentially an old, abandoned looking storefront on Main Street. Side note: The town of Riverhead has one of those adorable “movie set”-type Main Streets but the majority of it is empty and forlorn since the big box stores came to town and opened up on a four-lane road outside of town. The winter location and vibe is the exact opposite of the summer location and vibe. You could not entice me to go down there on Saturday morning. No way, no how. So, why then was I down there on Saturday morning? Carrot cake.

A compelling image

I do not really like carrot cake. I rarely – if ever – will order carrot cake and I do not think I have ever made it but Saturday morning I was “Facebooking” on my iPad and the Riverhead Farmers’ Market was doing their usual updating from the market. They posted a couple of pictures of Rosie’s Country Baking’s carrot cake with the caption “Mmmm carrot cake at the market today. It counts as a vegetable, right?” They showed the ingredients in a bowl, the cakes right out of the oven, the cakes all frosted and boxed up in clear plastic containers, and one on a plate just about to be eaten. I drove down there immediately.

According to Apu Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Curalate, a marketing platform for visual web content, text is out and pictures are in. Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and SnapChat are all about the images. Facebook is important too, of course but it still has more words than the rest which are truly visually based.

I can say without hesitation that I would never have left my couch on Saturday morning if I had read all about Rosie’s carrot cake. There are no words that would have motivated me to drive down there – I do not care how hungry I might have been. Gupta is correct when he says, “Images cause people to react, and those reactions can humanize your brand and turn transactional relationships into emotional ones.”


Image: ©Shutterstock

A social media hook

Longtime readers may remember my previous column about The Glastonbury Citizen and Stew Leonard’s. Both businesses have encouraged customers to take pictures of themselves with, in the case of The Citizen, the newspaper, and in Stew Leonard’s case, a Stew Leonard’s grocery bag, while they are traveling. They started this practice way before Facebook or Pinterest, too. The Citizen printed the pictures in their weekly paper. Stew Leonard’s had the photos posted on the walls in the checkout areas of their stores. Images do cause people to react and they motivate them to interact with the brand.

Do you have “carrot cake” pictures of your business?

Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions. She can be reached at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.