Driving Consumer Response: Using the Facets Model of Effects in Content

The Facets Model of Effects explains how and why consumers react to advertising. Using the same principles can help you write more effective content.

When advertisers pitch ideas, they have a goal in mind for how they want consumers to respond. Should the audience be enlightened or reminded? Will they laugh or cry? How will they think of and remember our brand after this ad?

Many traditional marketers have used the Facets Model of Effects to help answer such questions. According to this model, ads can communicate six communication objectives which each drive a separate consumer response:

Communication Objective

Consumer Response













These objectives can be equally important for content strategy. Understanding consumer behavior will help you to craft content that drives your target personas to have the responses and take the actions you want.

Perception: See/Hear

Consumers all have selective perception, that is, they choose what they want to pay attention to. With so many businesses turning to content marketing, consumers are bombarded with words and information online, so you’ll need to catch their attention and reel them in.

Traditional ads implement various tactics from comedy to suspense to sex appeal to draw viewers. Recently, Kmart has people tuning in to their “ship my pants” commercial due to its controversial, bathroom humor play on words. People may have counted out Kmart as a big player as of late, but this ad plays with people’s perceptions, and so it becomes memorable and shareable.

ship my pants

To maximize interest and get people to not only view your content, but read it all the way through, tantalize their senses. Pique their curiosity with something they might be surprised to see or hear.

Then, remember synergy when strategizing across channels. Kmart might have a funny TV ad right now, but their blog content is lacking the same appeal.


To get people to want to tune in to your content, offer them something they haven’t seen or heard before.

Emotional/Affective: Feel

This facet is all about creating wants, desires, and excitement. If you know your audience well, you’re in touch with their needs. Your content has to take this a step further and generate a strong emotional connection with your product or service that surpasses merely providing a solution to that need.

For example, Dannon wanted people to have a strong desire for Oikos yogurt, so they hired a spokesperson, John Stamos, who is highly desirable for their target market of women.


They’ve also created a recipe line that features their yogurt as a main ingredient. This is all unique, original content that will cause people to view Greek yogurt differently, and drive customers to buy more yogurt because they realize it has potential to be enjoyed in various ways.


This helps foster a more emotional appeal, even to something like yogurt, because people want to eat something delicious and have strong desires and appetites for their favorite dishes. Dannon’s message is simple: if eating tasty yet healthy food makes you happy, Oikos yogurt will delight you.

When you’re writing content, keep in mind the ways that what you have to say can create an emotional impact. If you can brighten someone’s day, they’re likely to have a more favorable view of your brand.

Cognition: Think/Understand

In cognitive learning, the presentation of facts, information, and explanation leads to understanding. You want people not to just read your content, but to find the truth, relevance, and importance in what you have to say.

The first step is comprehension. Write in a way that is simple and clear.

Next, use your content as a way to differentiate by providing information that no other brand can provide. Do your own research. Give examples of work you’ve done in the past. Demonstrate the value of what you have to offer.

GE’s YouTube channel exemplifies how a company can share information in an interesting way and give consumers a sneak peak into the brand.


GE has global brand recognition, but people might not comprehend what exactly GE does. These videos allow users to have a better grasp on that.

No matter your field, there are terms or practices that only industry insiders know. Informing others about your practices can be a way to draw in your audience and position yourself as a thought leader.

Association: Connect

People form a connection with you when your brand takes on a symbolic meaning. For instance, you don’t want to be ‘the store that sells tires,’ but the ‘place that always bails me out of my car troubles.’

Conditioned learning comes into play here. This happens when a group of thoughts and feelings becomes linked to the brand through repetition of message. So, think about your brand promise, motto, and mission. Find ways to seamlessly work these principles into your content so that your brand and its message become one and the same.

In this facet, the goal is transformation; you want your content to transform into something more than words on a page. You want to build up the network of associations that people connect to your brand. These are webs of related ideas. Think about the emotions, stories, facts, and principles that you want people to associate with you, then reinforce these ideas by writing content around them.

The Onion has done a great job at transforming their product because it is not a source of fake news, but a place people go to have a laugh.

The Onion

People have been conditioned to find that every time they read The Onion, they will get snarky and hilarious commentary on current issues. Because the brand has been consistent, it will continue to keep and grow its user base until their content does not deliver the same results.

Beyond thinking about how you want your brand to be known, think about the types of associations that go along with your content itself. Do people feel a strong enough connection with what you have to say?

Persuasion: Believe

People will only be persuaded to take action when they believe in the message of your content. There are several ways in which you can make your writing more persuasive.

Recognize the power of other people. Citing trusted, influential opinion leaders and getting such people to vouch for you impacts the way people view your brand. You can also bring in bandwagon appeals (everyone is doing it), to convince people that many others have bought into your message already.

Involvement plays a large role as well. The more engaged your audience is, the more conviction they will have in their beliefs about your brand because through interacting they learn about your message on a different level and come to their own conclusions.

Buzzfeed and Starbucks recently partnered up to allow you to “Use Your Face” when responding to a Buzzfeed article by uploading a video of your reaction. This is an entirely new level of engagement, and will cause others to be reassured about their beliefs if they see other real reactions similar to their own.


When people interact with not only your content, but other readers of your content, they will help persuade each other and shape each other’s opinions.

Finally, making your content more believable and credible by utilizing reputable sources and citations is worth the extra effort because it leads to brand loyalty when people know your information is reliable.

Behavior: Act/Do

Just as the ultimate goal of advertising is to lead people to take a next step, you want to write actionable content that motivates readers to do something.

There are many ways that behavioral psychology can be used in marketing since understanding how people act translates into what you can do to help shape behavior.

One of the simplest yet most important ways to get consumers to make a conversion is to include a call to action. If you make it easier for people to perform a given action, they are more likely to follow through.

Product trials are also used frequently because people start to form habits with the sample product or service. When they are satisfied with how the trial is going, they want to buy the full version so that they can continue to act at the same level of quality.

If you think outside the box, you can use content to serve as a starting point for free trials. Skin care line Mario Badescu, for instance, allows you to take a quiz about your skin type and beauty routine, after which they explain which of their products would work best for you. This then leads to an email offering you free sample sizes of each of the products they have recommended.

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The more people view your content as an experience and see how it translates to their individual lives, the better your brand will be viewed.

The main lesson in utilizing the Facets model of effects is to study your audience and use what you know about the factors behind consumer decisions. before you design a content strategy, stop and think about the process you go through when engaging with content and making decisions. how can you transform your content keeping these six categories in mind?

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