What is VACOG?

VACOG is an acronym used in neuro-linguistic programming for: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (feeling), Olfactory (sense of smell) and Gustatory (sense of taste).  You don’t need to know NLP, but it would be helpful to know VACOG.  How so?

Every experience that we’ve ever had or will ever have is a combination of sensory inputs.  We can smell a pie, see it, taste it, maybe pick it up and feel it.  We can hear a steak sizzle or a car skid to a stop after slamming on the breaks.  All that sensory data makes an impression on us.  I’ll get to the connection with advertising and marketing shortly.


Two researchers, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, discovered that not only do people have preferred ways of receiving sensory information, there are also words and phrases that they use to express their experiences.  For example, some people are more visually oriented and will tend to use words like see, look, foggy, brilliant, and other words associated with vision.

Other people are more hearing oriented and they will use words like speak, talk, tell, hear, noise, clicked, sound.  Other people are more feeling oriented and their word choices will reflect this. When you can connect to the representational system that are associated with our senses, you can better engage your audience.

According to NLP, most people use four of the five senses most often in their mental processes. Those four are:

  1. Visual thinking, which has to do with sight, imagination, and spatial awareness.
  2. Auditory, which deals with sound and speech.
  3. Kinaesthetic, or feelings from the body, temperature, pressure, and emotions.
  4. Self-talk, the conversation that each of us has with ourselves out loud or internally.

The other two senses, taste and smell, are less significant in our mental processing. Understanding VAKOG can help you write more persuasively and create rapid rapport with your readers.  It will help you to use words that communicate effectively to all your readers.  Knowing VAKOG can help you become a better storyteller, and storytelling is an important part of advertising.

One of the greatest advantages of knowing VACOG well enough to use it is that it can be instrumental in your creating call to action “triggers” that elicit powerful motivation.

Using VACOG For Advertising and Marketing

Our human tendency is to think and write in ways that we respond to. The problem with that is that not everyone responds to what you respond to and not everyone responds in the same way that you respond.  VACOG can help you address a larger audience and in the process make more sales.

So, if someone sees your advertising and it looks good to them, they’re sold.  If it “sounds good” to someone else, they’re sold.  Your advertising can “feel good” to a third person, and they’re sold.

But what if your ads “smell fishy” to a fourth person?  Or doesn’t quite “taste right” to a fifth person.  Then what?  That’s the challenge of communication – how do we speak to all sorts of people?  The better we can communicate to a wider audience, they better we will do.

So, start putting words and phrases into your marketing copy that connect with the representational systems in your audience. As you prepare your advertising and marketing, think about how you can communicate to all five senses.  The result will be that you will more forcefully communicate to all kinds of people.

To engage visual people, use phrases like, “How does that look,” or “Let me paint you a picture.” For auditory people, use phrases like, “I hear you,” “Do you hear me,” “Sounds good,” “That rings true,” “I hear that loud and clear,” or “That’s music to my ears.”

For feeling people, phrases to use would be: “Do you feel me,” “Reach your goals,” “Touch your goals,” or “Results are within your grasp.”

I’ve really just touched the surface in this short post, and my intention is to point you in the right direction.  There is plenty of information on NLP and VACOG online.  

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