It’s snowing today. It’s been snowing all day, in fact. That fact won’t mean much to the folks up North, but in Central Texas a snow day this close to March merits a raised eyebrow or two. I’ve spotted a couple of people just standing out on the sidewalk, staring up into the sky, dumbfounded. Others have clearly opted not to leave their homes today because of the deadly white stuff on the ground. Mostly, though, people seem genuinely pleased to see the snow here.
Why? What’s so interesting about a simple, explainable meteorological phenomenon? Our reactions will vary, depending on our past experiences with it, but here are some reasons to like snow:
It’s festive. We associate snow with the holiday season, even if we live in a part of the world that rarely sees the stuff. Who doesn’t know the words to “White Christmas” or “Let it Snow?” We’ve associated certain happy feelings with the sight of snow in the air or on the ground. Never mind the fact that the car door is frozen shut and everyone in the house has pneumonia — it’s snowing!
It’s kid stuff. That first snowfall was an event, wasn’t it? Snowmen, snow angels, snowball fights — a good solid snow forms the basis of a child’s version of the Winter Olympics. Snow can return us to childhood, especially if we grew up with it on a yearly basis, by hardwiring itself into early, formative emotional memories.
It’s rare. I’m speaking as a native Texan, of course. Talk to somebody up in Minnesota about snow and see how excited they get. “Jingle Bells” or no “Jingle Bells,” if you see enough snow on the ground, month after monotonous month, not only will you end up half-blind but you’ll also come to hate snow. That guy will be the one who gets excited about a hundred-degree day — like we get down here all summer long. Whoopee.
The three properties that I just touched on have one thing in common — they’re all emotional triggers. They manage, often subconsciously, to evoke feelings and responses. Sights, sounds, smells can all cause us to react in a (mostly) predictable way.
Our marketing content must pull those exact same triggers. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should add snowdrifts and fresh-baked bread and raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens into everything you write, but it does mean that you have to consider what images will work most effectively on the particular audience you’re addressing. Just as a snowy landscape does nothing for the guy who has to shovel his way out of the garage every morning, any given word can fall on a deaf ear unless you know who you’re talking to and what words they want to hear.
Oh, it’s lightening up now. Sniff.