What we see versus what we hear

Of the many truths my mother tried to impart upon me, this one was delivered most often, “Everything I tell you goes in one ear and out the other.”As with so many things, turns out she was right.

For instance, a 2003 entry for the California State Fair concluded that 21 out of 24 people retained visual cues more accurately than audio stimuli and the National Academy of Sciences published a paper as a result of studies conducted to measure the differences between our ability to recall what we see versus what we hear.

Using multiple approaches to test an assortment of stimuli it was determined, “In every situation, auditory memory proved to be systematically inferior to visual memory.”

Another article in National Geographic news supports this: Associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Amy Poremba states, “Our auditory memory isn’t as robust as we might like to think it is.”

What does that mean for small community businesses and their consumers? According to ‘Newspaper vs. Radio Advertising’ by Jenna Bruce of Media Space Solutions, “Many local business owners have recognized that digital media isn’t the holy grail of advertising. Newspapers have had their fair share of ups and downs since the emergence of digital media but despite this they’ve steadily maintained their local readership base and strength for local marketing.”

Additionally, “Unlike radio, which is often playing in the background and not really heard, newspapers can deliver true consumer engagement.

Plus, a newspaper ad can be cut out and saved for later. A business’ contact information or coupon can and usually will land on the household refrigerator or in the consumer’s wallet or purse.”

Conversely, — according to the same article — “People listen to the radio to be entertained or simply to have background noise while driving or doing household chores. For those who listen for entertainment, advertising is considered an interruption. Satellite radio has taken off because people are even willing to pay extra to avoid the dreaded commercials.”

Even the radio industry recognizes that listeners don’t want to have their music interrupted by advertising, which is why many stations promote themselves as the station that “plays more music, less commercials.”

Bruce continues, “Yet advertising in a newspaper is not seen as an interruption. In fact, numerous surveys have shown that a major reason people buy a newspaper is to view the ads of local stores and businesses.”

Plus, “Unlike radio,” added Bruce, “local newspapers consistently deliver to 50 percent or more of households — 365 days of the year.”

Interestingly, mom’s wisdom was actually echoing this Chinese proverb, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember.”

At least, that’s what I think she said.