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This month we'll look at how color and sound affect the success of your marketing. We hope you find it interesting and useful.

We'll also tell you what's new on our web site, in case you haven't been there lately.

Increase Sales with Color, Sound, Taste, Smell and Touch

Ever wonder why your favorite restaurant chain has the same interior color, design and background music? Have you ever considered why elevator music exists? Why is it that every Body Shop store smells the same?

Marketing has an answer - and as a professional, you can use it to strengthen your company.

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Marketing is largely a game of getting the customer to perceive your product or service in a certain way. We usually think about words, but perception occurs when any one of the five senses - vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch - is affected. In this way, marketers use color, sound, flavors, scents and surface to shape your perceptions. Customers (and site visitors) will react to these things; even if they are unaware they are doing so.

But with these perceptions in mind, marketers can better execute their strategy.

You can learn how to leverage the five senses to improve your marketing efforts. Here's how:

Use Color to Shape Perception

Color influences our moods and physical responses. But when thinking about color, you have to think in terms of two color hues (warm and cool), degrees of color saturation (what we call richness), and levels of depth (light or dark) as ways to influence customer perceptions.

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Color psychologists have found that warm colors (red, orange, and yellow) generally encourage activity and excitement, whereas cool colors (green, blue, violet) are more soothing and relaxing. That's why so many soaps, lotions and body washes come in packages with cool colors; they're trying paint a calming picture of their product. That's also why kids toys and candies are often in the warm colors; they're trying to encourage perceptions of fun and energy.

Color can have great effect on whether or not your customer likes your product. In fact, some marketers use experts to help forecast which colors consumers will like two or three years down the road. Researchers have also found differences among social classes in color preference. Hot, bright colors usually appeal to lower-end markets, which deep, rich colors have historically appealed to higher-end markets.

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Which color should you use?

Assume, for a moment, that you are a fast-food restaurant. Then you'd probably choose reds, oranges and yellows so that customers perceive an on-the-go product. This will get them in and out of the restaurant faster (even if they don't realize it), increasing table turnover. If, however, your fast-food restaurant brand conveys comfort, then a hot color scheme may in fact undermine your brand equity. Clearly, an effective color scheme is consistent with your brand and target segment while also producing the desired customer perceptions.

Use Sound to Shape Perception

Sound represents an important form of sensory input. In particular, music can influence physical behavior. Fast music, like the kind you'd hear at a health club, tends to energize consumers. Slow music can be soothing. The type of music you play can have dramatic and direct effects on your business. For example, researchers found that a slow temp can increase sales as much as 38 percent in retail stores because it encourages leisurely shopping. Alternatively, a fast tempo is more desirable in restaurants because customers will eat faster, thus allowing greater table turnover and higher sales.

Sound can also impact moods. Likeable and familiar music can induce good moods, whereas discordant sounds can create bad moods. This is important because moods may affect how we feel about products.

Because both sound and color can affect moods, you can use the two together to strongly shape customer perceptions. A massage studio, for example, may want to use cool-color décor with melodic harp music playing in the background. A nightclub, on the other hand, may want to use hot colors and loud, fast music to produce perceptions of energy and excitement. Using the wrong colors and music together may undermine your marketing efforts.

Ok, now that you know about color and sound, think about your website (assuming you have some sound associated with your website). Are you using colors and sound to your advantage, or are you turning off customers? Customers might not even know they're leaving due to the color and sound, but they might leave anyway - just like in a restaurant.

Want to learn more about what color, sound, smell, touch, and taste has to do with marketing? Click here.

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