More Than a Feeling: Message Matters

Message matters. That’s no big surprise. But “They will never forget how you made them feel” may be truer than anyone realized when it comes to marketing.

Turns out, purely emotional marketing outperforms purely rational marketing by nearly double.

Yesterday I was hard at work re-painting my home office. When Pandora decided to play Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” (all you animal-lovers will understand) I had an immediate response. My emotional trigger was pulled. Within three seconds my thoughts went from “This color paint color is gorgeous!” to “Save the puppies! Help the kitties!” As I started reflecting on the types of things I have passed along and shared with friends over the past couple years, I realized nearly all were strongly emotional. (Last Christmas a Dyson vacuum drew tears!)

So what makes emotional marketing so effective? In this article, Susan Gunelius takes a closer look at 10 common emotional triggers…

  1. Fear: Fear is an emotion that can be used in a wide variety of marketing messages. Insurance companies often appeal to the emotion of fear with messages like “Don’t get caught with too little insurance.”
  2. Guilt: Consumers are easily affected by messages that trigger emotions of guilt. Nonprofit organizations use the guilt trigger effectively in copy such as “Don’t let them suffer anymore.”
  3. Trust: Trust is one of the hottest trends in marketing, and every company seems to be trying to jump on the trust bandwagon in their marketing messages. Financial companies are leading the way with messages like “no hidden fees.”
  4. Value: Value is another hot trend in marketing, and many promotions appeal directly to the emotional trigger of getting a good deal. For example, promotional messages that say “If you find a better price for the same product, we’ll match it” are effective in piquing feelings related to value.
  5. Belonging: Few people truly want to be alone. Human nature dictates that most people want to feel like they belong to a group, and customers often purchase products in an attempt to feel part of a specific group. Many companies effectively appeal to consumers’ desires to belong, using copy like “You’re part of the family.”
  6. Competition: The old adage of keeping up with the Joneses is an adage for a reason. Many consumers are affected by a competitive desire to feel equal to or better than their peers. Copy like “Make them drool” is a great example of a message that elicits feelings of competition.
  7. Instant Gratification: We live in a world where people expect instant gratification in all aspects of their lives. Messages that cater to a sense of urgency are well-received by consumers who already desire instant gratification. Use words like now, today, in one hour or less, within 24 hours, and so on to appeal to the emotional trigger of instant gratification.
  8. Leadership: A lot of consumers want to lead the way in trying new products, and this audience responds strongly to marketing messages that appeal to their feelings related to leadership. Messages that make them feel like they’re first or in control are powerful for this audience. Phrases such as “Be the first on your block” effectively appeal to the emotional trigger of leadership.
  9. Trend-setting: Many consumers want to feel cool or trendy, so appealing to those emotions in copywriting is fairly standard. Variations of “all the cool kids are doing it” are commonplace in copywriting and can be used to market a wide variety of products and services to an even wider audience. The famous Gatorade ad featuring Michael Jordan and the copy “Be like Mike” is a perfect example.
  10. Time: In the 21st century, people are busier than ever. As such, they desire more free time to pursue personal interests, spend time with family and friends, and so on. Marketing messages that appeal to that desire for more free time are extremely effective, such as “Cut the time it takes to vacuum your house in half.”

And now for the fun part. I have compiled a mini-list of links to handful of commercials, companies, organizations and people doing emotional well. Their message is sticky. Pass-onable. It gets people feeling, which gets people talking – and doing.

The heart is the first feature of working minds. | Frank Lloyd Wright

YOUR TURN TO CHIME IN: Who do you think does emotional well? What (or should I say who) is tugging at your heart strings?

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