Marketers are constantly looking for ways to improve communication while defining the path to an action. A less commonly known fact about communication, is how much of it is comprised by non-verbal communication. According to Albert Mehrabian in his book, Silent Messages, the breakdown of communication attribution is as follows:
10% – words
35% – vocal tone and pace
55% – nonverbal communication
As marketers, how can we leverage the power of silence, or the absence of something, to build deeper, better communications that result in stronger connections, ad recall and ultimately conversions?
Cialdini describes 6 principles of persuasion, one of them being authority. Pausing, thoughtfully, before speaking gives you a chance to build more meaningful, deep responses. Consider how adding silence can give the viewer a chance to reflect on your message and make them more likely to accept what you’re saying.
Nike’s “What Girls are Made Of” features fleeting moments of silence. Though brief, the moments of silence bring impact to the message of empowerment and challenging societal norms. In this ad, silence builds authority by using music contrasted with silence to create a heightened level of engagement with what the ad says.
Gaps can be more than absence of sound. Take the Colsubsidio series of ads for their book exchange. The ads featured incomplete silhouettes of fairytale characters contrasted against negative space. The absence of features creates tension and intentional chaos to make an appeal to logos. These elements worked together to make an engaging memorable ad for the event.
Lastly, consider how communication should be a two-way exchange. In your marketing communication, silence allows the recipient to express themselves and engage in a more organic authentic way. In both Nike’s “What are Girls Made Of” and Colsubsidios Book Exchange ads, the viewer is left with a moment to immerse themselves in thought and develop a relationship with the brand built not just on receiving information, but engaging through thought.
Introducing silence may be a new concept for your brand and new things can be risky. If you’re concerned about this, consider A/B testing your content. Check out my quick introduction video to A/B testing here.
It’s often in the absence of things, true value is found. What value will your target audience find in your communication’s silence?