This article was originally published on Forbes.com
Conventional marketing tactics usually lead to typical outcomes — what if we try something different? I'm sure each of us has a dress, shoes, a tie or a bag that we bought only because a salesperson in the shop was kind to us, or just because we were in search of positive emotions. Most of us strive to be happy in our personal lives, so we often seek ways to feel good and are willing to pay for them.
Emotional connection plays a significant role in the choices we make as consumers. As reported by Psychology Today, "functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts)." So as marketers, why not aim to trigger the right feelings and make an emotional impression to attract attention to your product or service and boost sales?
I've worked with many clients on fixing some of the major issues with their marketing. Some of these clients were delivering an outstanding product to the market that, unfortunately, failed. And it was because their marketing strategy never emotionally engaged their target customers. Many companies seem to have a really hard time understanding how their particular product can make their clients happy. They forget that even though we're in the age of digital marketing, there are still real people — a real Jake, Melissa or Jessica — on the other side of the screen, and those people care, laugh or cry the same way that we all do.
As a result of this tendency, when our team brings emotional marketing to the table, we've found that 80% of our clients seem to doubt the strategy — until we deliver results. For example, 10 months after bringing one client's medicine-related app to the market using the emotional marketing strategy, the app doubled its revenue and our client saw a significant increase in brand recognition. We helped another client, a skincare company, hasten their sales growth and attract new investor funding by concentrating marketing efforts on triggering customers' emotions.
So just how potent is it, this magical emotional connection? American poet Maya Angelou is often quoted as having said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Emotional engagement inspires a potential customer to notice and remember your marketing campaign if you do it right.
Research further illustrates the power of emotional advertising. Fast Company reports that "in an analysis of the IPA dataBANK, which contains 1,400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns, campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content (and did a little better than those that mixed emotional and rational content)."
Some brands seem to organically make emotional connections with consumers, while others have to work at it. But in my experience, any product can evoke an emotional response. So where do you start?
First, recognize that you can't always aim to evoke happiness with your marketing. Research from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow found that we have only four basic emotions: happy, sad, fear/surprise and disgust/anger. So determine which feeling you intend to inspire. This will give you the right insights for copywriting, graphics, photos, music, etc.
Then, to get in touch with your customers' emotions, identify their critical motivators. We strongly recommend putting more effort into research to discover the sole critical motivators that are typical for your niche and target audience. It's crucial to provide customers with what they genuinely need, though they may not always be able to say what that is. Try to figure out what your customers care about, whether it's standing out from the crowd, well-being, freedom, a sense of belonging or the environment. And make sure to leverage that. Their motivators may be secondary to the underlying emotions that drive them, but take them seriously. They can provide you with a more in-depth understanding of your customers' emotions.
Once you understand what drives your customers, use these insights to create a broad marketing strategy based on making emotional connections. This strategy should include every link in the chain, from product launches and sales to marketing and service. Storytelling can be an indispensable tool here. Stories can be compelling and easy to share. They can help trigger the emotions you may need to get your desired outcome.
Dale Carnegie once said, "When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion." Emotional connections in the marketing field are not a secret strategy anymore — but they can be a real advantage. To be successful, find out how your customers feel and what they need and be able to identify what motivates them. This customer-oriented attitude and strategy can help you inspire customers' devotion.