In France, cartoonists are seen as philosophers.   Here in the states, I expect it’s more like clowns.  But once you understand the nature and power of cartoons, you ought to view them as one of your most essential marketing tools.

The use of cartoons in marketing and advertising missions is already well documented with test results, but perhaps the most telling of all are the results of editorial readership surveys.  They consistently point to cartoons as the best read and remembered part of any publication. Think about that.  Magazines and newspapers are collective works.  Everything in them is created by some of the best minds in the country, and it’s all designed to have impact.  Yet it’s always the cartoons that dominate.

So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that cartoons do same thing in the marketing arena.  Here are five powerful reasons for using cartoons in your marketing campaign. 

1.  Cartoons are one of the most powerful involvement devices on the planet

As marketers, we're constantly challenged to find ways to break through the clutter.  Cartoons do this effortlessly, but with an added bonus. Humor is about revealing truth in a twist.  Just the act of laughing means the reader has instantly picked up a key point of agreement you can build upon within your messaging.

 2.  Cartoons double e-mail open rates and increase engagement

When clients test our "cartoon device" (a bi-monthly cartoon feature with personalized caption and multi-function header) in their e-mail campaigns, they usually see their open rates double and then sustain that higher metric over multiple deliveries.  Cartoons are also a great device to prompt viral pass-along of your campaign.

3.  Cartoons can help you break through to VIP prospects

If you're involved in selling or strategic business development, the ability to break through to heavily-defended VIP prospects -- CEOs, C-level executives and the like -- is critical to your success.  I use cartoons constantly to achieve this task, usually with spectacular results.  Sandler Training tested it, for example, and generated a 100% response and 8,000% ROI. 

4.  Cartoons add a tremendous "stickiness" factor to any campaign

When you invest in any campaign, of course you want it to be noticed, but you also want it to stick with the audience.  Cartoons do that quite literally.  When we send them as postcards, they end up on refrigerator doors and office walls, where they can have a lasting effect on response.  The same thing happens even in e-mail , where we often find recipients printing out the message to save the cartoon.

5.  Cartoons have a proven track record

The editorial readership surveys mentioned above are helpful, but cartoons already have an impressive track record as a marketing device. They often double e-mail open rates and break through with regularity to the C-suite as contact campaigns.  Beyond that, they have more than 30 years and millions of dollars worth of test experience that shows how powerful they can be as a marketing tool.

David Ogilvy, the famed ad man who founded Ogilvy & Mather long ago, used to say, "Humor doesn't work."  He was wrong, at least where cartoons are concerned. It’s fitting, then, that he spent his final years in France, where they've understood the nature and power of humor all along.