A picture is worth a thousand words


World-class customer service arts advice and training for restaurant and hotel owners and managers plus servers — for over 25 years.  

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Do you think a picture speaks more than a thousand words?


I don’t. I have seen few if any pictures that say anything without a caption.


In fact, if you walk around any art gallery and watch what people do it is quite salutary: they tend to look at the captions to the paintings before the paintings themselves. I am not sure if this applies to things like “installations” – dismembered animals, bits of debris, turds, and all the other stuff that passes for art nowadays – but here’s something I do know.


An extraordinarily large number of those paid to create or assess the likely effectiveness of commercial messages have no idea what constitutes a good picture.


The thumbnail to this post is a good example: an ad for Intel.


What makes anybody imagine – even for a fleeting, insane instant – that this will make anybody buy a single extra Intel gizmo?


If you can tell me, please do.


While you’re thinking up a plausible argument, let me tell you what a lot of expensive research conducted about 25 years ago discovered. It won’t surprise you – in fact, you’ll say, “Of course!”, but it will come as news to the multitude of bright young creatives who produce ads like that.


The research conducted in the U.S. showed people lots of ads with pictures in them. The thesis – so sensible and obvious one almost feels bound to apologize – was that the creative should give the reader some inkling of what was being advertised.


(Don’t laugh – many ads, and mailings for that matter – seem so bored with what is being sold that they try to avoid the issue. Personally, I think if you don’t believe – or can’t persuade yourself – that what you are selling is interesting, you’re in the wrong job.)


So the researchers asked people what they thought was being advertised in each case. One example was a picture of a sexy girl in what looked like a bubble bath, with one bare leg exposed. People thought of some sort of soap or beauty product. In fact, it was an ad for Hennessy – and there was a glass and bottle clearly shown in the ad.


The research revealed the obvious: people assume that whatever is in the picture is related to the subject of the ad. So don’t put irrelevant, silly – or even downright confusing – things in your ads. So, when your salespeople open their mouths, make sure the words they use conjure up the right word pictures in your prospects.


That’s my next hint for you: make sure your pictures are relevant.


Relevance is more important than ingenuity.


And, just one more point, a picture may not say more than a thousand words. But it does speak quicker. It can actually override logic, so to speak.


In the case of the ad I displayed, what were the reactions in my office?


“Don’t like the dress,” was one.

“Nice legs” was another.


None of us can tell you what the proposition was. And none of us cares, either. So be clear. >> If you would like me help you clarify things for you and your business get in touch with me.

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About Me

Eric Valdivieso has over 25 years of sales and showmanship experience, including 5 years of film and theatre training and 9 years of table service, in high-paced and competitive environments. 

He helps restaurant and hotel owners and managers cultivate experiences that people talk about, and seek out. 

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Jonathan Tisch

CEO Loews Hotels & Co-Owner of the New York Giants

“Over the last few years, my family and I have had the pleasure to watch and enjoy, as Eric Valdivieso, nightly deliver a dining experience that is truly enjoyable. From the moment that we are welcomed by Eric at the door, to sitting at the bar and enjoying the suggestions and company to an amazing dinner, it is always one of our favorite nights. And Eric graciously and seamlessly choreographs this entire experience, without breaking a sweat. Eric truly understands hospitality, and what makes a great restaurant so great.”