Emotional Impact is Everything/ August 11, 2014
Take a journey with me.
Imagine, just for a moment, that it’s a cool November morning. You stretch the sleep from your muscles and greet the day with a smile and a warm beverage, well rested and satisfied.
Your business has been thriving lately, and as you wait for your computer to start up, you reflect on recent weeks.
Sales numbers are skyrocketing.
Your customers are more satisfied and more loyal than ever.
A strong fanbase has formed on your social media pages, and your marketing message reaches more people every day through organic shares.
While you finish your steaming mug of delicious gourmet coffee, you log in to check the stats on your company blog. What you see is so incredible, you can’t stop grinning.
A few months ago, you were lucky if one of your blog posts came near 1,000 views in a week.
Today, things are different.
Today, your blog booms with traffic. The stat page reports that thousands of people flock to your website every day to hear the latest from your company. People are so eager to hear your message, they’re coming back every day to check for new content.
It’s no wonder your sales numbers are up and profits are better than ever. Now, you’re not spending as much time looking for new customers, because customers are looking for you.
What is it that made the difference?
What took your marketing message from just another sales pitch to a fan favorite?
It’s not rocket science.
It’s emotional impact.
Here’s the thing about humans:
People…all people, including you and me…make decisions based on emotion, and then justify those decisions with logic. It’s just how the human mind works.
A decision based on feelings is not necessarily a bad decision: in fact, the tendency to think that “emotion clouds logic” is itself an emotional reaction. We are not weak-minded or unintelligent for acting out of sentiment, and a decision based on emotion isn’t necessarily easy or impulsive. Our emotions can be pretty good guides if we’re willing to pay attention to our own needs.
Knowing that people are primarily emotional creatures, then, the logical way to connect with them is – you guessed it – through their emotions.
But isn’t that manipulative?
Once again, the mistaken assumption that an emotional appeal is somehow manipulative is one of those gut feelings – another emotional reaction that your mind will often try to justify with logic.
Besides that, people know when they’re being manipulated. You’ve probably had an experience like this:
You’re walking through a mall and you mistakenly make eye contact with one of those insufferable kiosk salesmen.
It’s too late.
They’ve locked on and you can’t escape.
Trying to be polite, you listen to his desperate sales pitch, and after what seems like hours of trying to turn him down, you finally cave and buy the stupid nail file or silk scarf or whatever he’s selling, just to end the transaction and go about your day.
As you walk away, you’re not happy about the purchase. Yeah, you came here to go shopping, and you might have even wanted a scarf, but that salesman pushed you into something you didn’t really want to do. He got the sale, but you might return the item, and you’ll certainly never make the mistake of talking to a kiosk proprietor again.
That’s not the kind of feeling you want associated with your company, is it?
If you try to manipulate people into purchasing from you, you’re not gaining loyal customers. You’re actually hurting your business.
An effective emotional appeal isn’t about manipulating. It’s just about speaking the right language.
Think of it this way:
Humans communicate, think, and act on the basis of their feelings. When you try to convey your logical message to your potential customers, it won’t connect because you’re not speaking the right language.
It’s sort of like trying to appeal to Spanish-speaking customers by giving them ads in Portuguese. That doesn’t make sense, does it?
Speak in a language that your audience understands, and your message will connect.
Okay, that makes sense, but how do I get emotional about my product?
A product is never just a product.
It’s a solution.
People don’t buy laundry detergent – they buy efficient ways to clean their clothes, or environmental consciousness, or economic advantage.
People don’t buy coffee – they buy the coffeehouse scene and the person they feel they become while they’re there, or perhaps they buy participation in a culture that considers coffee a sacred part of the morning ritual.
What problem do you solve? What does your brand stand for? How does a consumer benefit from using your product or service?
And, most importantly, how should that make them feel?
Sometimes, it’s the story.
You’re in business for a reason, aren’t you? Most people don’t ever start companies, and they especially don’t make sacrifices to help their businesses succeed. You’re not the average person. You’ve got a story to tell.
Would your story appeal to the type of people you want to attract to your brand?
Incorporating storytelling into your marketing messages grabs attention and hammers your point home, with the added benefit of associating your brand with a certain feeling.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be your story, though.
Have you seen the coffee commercial where George Clooney teaches Danny DeVito how to be classy enough to deserve a certain brand of coffee? In about 30 seconds, that ad tells a story and associates the brand with the feeling of being elite, debonaire, and special. Just by watching that one little blurb, you know a lot about the kind of customers who buy those coffee machines.
Think of what your brand stands for and how you feel about it, and infuse that emotion into your marketing campaign to solidify your brand image.
Not every emotional appeal works for every person.
The news media specializes in fear-based messages. If you ever want a lesson in using strong emotions to sell a message, watch your evening news. They’re so good at what they do, they’ve got millions of people convinced that it’s vitally important to tune in every day to hear about how windy it was that afternoon, and of course to find out about what new crisis might end the world tomorrow.
That doesn’t mean you have to scare your potential customers into buying your stuff, though. Actually, in most cases, that’s not a good approach.
Your marketing should be driven by the demographic you want to attract. Find out as much as you can about these people, and then write to an individual person, not to a group.
Yes, you want to appeal to a wide audience…and you will.
But your audience is made of individual people, and – this is super important – not everyone in the world is your customer.
It’s so important that I’ll say it again:
NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR CUSTOMER.
If you ever hire a marketing person and they tell you that their ad is designed to appeal to everyone, fire them.
Know who is going to be reading your blog, surfing your website, and buying your products, and only talk to them. You’ll have many more customers by focusing on the right people than you will by trying to water down your message to have broader appeal.
Figure out who you’re talking to, and then think of someone (a real person) that you actually know who fits that description. As you plan your marketing strategy, imaging that you’re trying to win over that one person.
In fact, if it’s possible, test your ads and blog posts on that person to get their reaction. If they don’t respond positively, go back to the drawing board.
Your approach should resonate with the beliefs, priorities, and needs of your target audience.
Figuring out which emotion works best is a matter of research and practice.
During your research, it’s a really smart move to figure out who is successfully reaching your potential audience. Take cues from their materials. Don’t COPY other people’s work, but it’s perfectly reasonable and ethical to use their marketing for inspiration.
What emotions work?
Any emotion is better than no emotion, but there are some that seem to be more effective than others. Use this list as a reference when you’re testing new strategies:
Marketing Emotions That Connect
- Curiosity (think clickbait)
- Outrage, Annoyance, and Pessimism
- Charity, Altruism, and Benevolence
- Superiority and Specialness
- Exhaustion and Exasperation
You’ll notice that some are considered “negative” emotions, while others are more “positive.”
In truth, emotions are neither positive or negative; they all serve some purpose and have some use, and just because you think guilt or anger might make a good core emotion for your audience, that doesn’t mean your message has to be negative. You might opt to focus on how your service solves a problem that makes your customers very angry, or perhaps acknowledge their guilt over a perceived personal failure as a way to help them get past that and make a positive change.
How to use emotion effectively.
It’s not enough to just evoke a feeling. Once you’ve gotten the desired emotional response, there’s a little more work to do.
Earlier, you read that people make decisions based on emotion, but then they justify those decisions with logic.
That means that the logic is still an important part of your message: just don’t lead with it.
Once you’ve sparked the appropriate feelings, it’s up to you to also provide the justification for the decision that’s already been made. By doing so, you guarantee that your message will stick. Without adding this important step, the feeling will be fleeting and your audience will quickly forget how they felt.
The formula works like this:
1) Lead with emotion.
2) Tell the customer how they’ll benefit, sticking to the emotional appeal.
3) Give the customer the logical facts behind those benefits, still incorporating the emotional appeal.
4) Remind the customer once again how they’ll feel once you solve their problem.
The beginning, end, and middle of your message should touch on your audience’s deeply rooted emotions. Do that consistently, and you could be 90 days away from explosive results.
What would your bottom line look like if you had a devoted fan base in addition to your regular sales figures?
Pack your posts full of feeling, and that’s what you’ll see.