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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

The invisible hand: a breakdown of the inner-workings of marketing

By Hillary-Reese Simmons
Truck Editor

In addition to color, hue, tint, tone, and shade are powerful storytellers. (Photo courtesy of We Are 2nd Floor)

Have you ever gone to a grocery store for a few things, but wound up spending $30 on a random thing because it was on sale? Or maybe you have been sitting in a fast-food restaurant’s line prepared with your order, but order something completely unexpected and different at the window? I know I certainly have, and for this phenomenon, we can thank marketing. Marketing is the glue that marries consumers and producers in a codependent union. 

Everyone has needs. Businesses need income and consumers need goods and services. Marketing is the bridge connecting the hungry stomach to that new restaurant, that group of tourists to the local shopping mall, and that sweaty beach-goer to the frozen lemonade stand.

Businesses use all kinds of marketing tactics to reach a target audience and influence their decision-making. But as consumers, we often do not think twice about the scope of that influence. Marketing tactics play to our wants and needs and help businesses propose ways to fulfill them. Everyone who is a consumer should know how powerful color and font psychology are to avoid being taken advantage of. 

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As our eyes take in information, the brain decides how we will perceive the data. When we see certain fonts and colors, the ideas and concepts we associate with them will come up as well. 

Let us take a look at what this looks like in a business. For example, VOUS Church, a megachurch in South Miami, needs patrons to come and visit their Sunday services and support their various initiatives. Many potential megachurch attendees often seek an exciting church experience that megachurches will provide. From crafting strategically designed social media feeds and websites to selling merchandise with enticing phrases, these businesses use many tactics to bring patrons to their establishment.

VOUS specifically relies heavily on the Internet for a lot of its marketing. With over 261,000 followers on Instagram, almost 200,000 YouTube subscribers, and an average of 40,000 weekly online service streams, VOUS Church in Miami needs to keep a close eye on the way they present themselves online. So, everything they do on their web-based platforms is intentional. Upon first glance at their Instagram page, you see a beautifully coordinated theme. But with a bit of knowledge about the psychology of marketing and a perceptive eye, one can uncover the strategy behind their choices. 

The VOUS Instagram feed goes through periods primarily consisting of warm colors, then cool colors, and some mixtures of the two. For the portions of the page with warmer colors, the colors in those pictures are highly saturated, a trait associated with excitement. For the portions of the page with primarily cool colors, the colors are less saturated, thus creating a more relaxed viewing experience. Within the alternating blocks of warm and cool, there are splashes of outliers. For example, in a 12-post block of neutral green tones with average saturation and lower value, there is one primarily black post with bright neon-colored lettering. This kind of dynamic is present all through the page, thus allowing certain posts in the spotlight above others. 

The organization and type of text on VOUS’s Instagram page are also quite interesting. Just as the post blocks alternate colors, alternating amounts of text follow a similar pattern. There are pictures with text strewn throughout the feed, but some blocks of posts are more visual-heavy while others are more text-heavy. 

They use a lot of different fonts that often fit well with the content. On the posts with Pastor Rich Wilkerson, the videos are often captioned with bolded, all-capital-letter, tall fonts. This mimics the passionate tone Wilkerson takes when delivering his sermon. This reinforces the ideas being presented in the viewer’s brain. 

This page also has quite a few infographics in the form of multi-image posts. The infographics often have text that correlates with the topic. For example, one post reads “FREEDOM IS FOUND IN THE CONTEXT OF COMMUNITY” in all capital, bold lettering. The letters here, however, are spread out. Spread-out letters imply individuality and freedom. So, with the font type fitting the message, it makes the presented ideas more palatable and emphasized in viewers’ brains

Additionally, the VOUS Instagram page is very heavy on pictures of people. Many pictures and thumbnails are candid photos of people smiling. Whenever Pastor Wilkerson’s sermon clips are posted, the thumbnails are of him smiling, often with views of his head and torso. This seriously helps humanize the online experience for any potential or current VOUS-goer.

VOUS works hard to draw people in, and they work even harder to retain the support they gain. People who attend megachurches often explain how much they enjoy, and even crave, the emotional energy they get during the exciting services. An anonymous ex-VOUS member shares a comparable sentiment.

“It’s very engaging, and who doesn’t wanna sing at the top of their lungs in a large crowd of people in a dark room? It’s fun, kind of like a concert. You get that little rush,” one ex-VOUS member explained. 

A big part of marketing for megachurches is also conveying a sense of community. VOUS has several initiatives separate from the weekly church services. These are all to help establish a sense of connection and community among its members. From the VOUS Crews to VOUS Conference to VOUS College, VOUS has many initiatives and is rapidly expanding. VOUS’s initiatives are attempts to continuously influence consumer behavior. 

Not only do they want to attract more members, but they also want to retain current ones. And these tactics have worked to an extent. The ex-VOUS member explains the reason they kept going back was the support they got from it. 

“I needed some people there for me, telling me to get my life together and get motivated. I needed people who shared common values. Though it may not have been as real as I thought, I did get it on a surface level, and it got me back up on my feet,” the ex-member said. 

So the next time you are on the way to the grocery store’s bread aisle and you see that those mini pans for sunny-side-up eggs are buy-one-get-one, stop and think! Remember what you read today, take a deep breath, and keep on walking.

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The invisible hand: a breakdown of the inner-workings of marketing