Using Emotional Appeal in Marketing

Posted on November 10, 2016 by Media Culture

Emotional appeal in advertising isn’t a new idea for marketers, but it does seem to be one that we’ve been overlooking in an attempt to apply technology and Big Data to every aspect of modern commerce.

Just because we know that an on-screen shot of a dog sells more dog food than an on-screen shot of the bag will, it doesn’t really help us to bridge the gap to create a real and lasting impression in our target audience’s minds. We should be focusing more on emotional marketing, though, because it’s the most powerful tool we have. It can create what we call a fully engaged customer—in other words, a huge fan of your brand.

Gallup’s State of the American Consumer report revealed something interesting about these brand fanatics and sometime ambassadors. On average, across all industry types, these fully engaged types represent a 23 percent premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth when compared to an average customer. There’s nothing wrong with an average customer, but a fully engaged customer will really help your brand grow wings.


Creating the fully engaged customer

Emotional advertising is the key to achieving full engagement with customers—it’s really that simple.

Instead of customers thinking of your brand simply as another paper towel or tea shop, they start to take your company a lot more personally and find ways to connect on a face to face level with you. You’re no longer “the paper towel brand,” you’re “my paper towel brand.” It’s an amazing thing for marketers and the brands they represent.

The Harvard Business Review recently published an article on the subject that identified 10 of the most common high-impact emotional motivators across a wide range of categories. These are emotional touch points that your brand can use to help spark conversations and create deeply loyal customers, including:

Standing out from the crowd.

Your customers all want to be special, so let them feel that way. Give them options to customize or different choices so they can express themselves in ways they feel are unique.

Enjoying a sense of well-being.

No one likes feeling stressed-out, so don’t forget to show your market just how your product can make them feel like they have everything under control. Even that paper towel brand can easily handle messes that come out of nowhere, making it easy to keep the kitchen clean for guests.

Feeling a sense of belonging.

This is a bit trickier, since your customers also want to be unique. It’s important to create products and marketing that’s different, but not too different. Hints and themes that are familiar and implications that other people are using your brand in their own ways can be immensely helpful at achieving this.

Feeling secure.

Like enjoying a sense of well-being, people also want to know that sense of balance is going to continue into the future. They want to see that your part will continue to be played until the end of time and that you’ll be around to help them if they are ever in trouble. Being the person they want to be. Everybody has an ideal self, whoever that might be. Depending on your brand and your audience, that could be a super engaged parent or just a singleton who manages to keep their apartment squeaky clean. The person your market wants to be will change over time, as will the way they use your products, so keep an eye to the future when marketing to this emotional aspect.

Emotional appeal in advertising is one of the strongest types of marketing you can do. However, if you do it wrong, you risk sounding insincere at the best and offensive at the worst, so choose your words and your images very carefully. Remember that emotion is highly evocative, and when you’re trying to elicit a particular emotion from your target audience, they may react unpredictably.

Even so, the reward is so much greater than the risk, so if you’re not using emotional marketing now, you should really start. When marketing anything, feelings are stronger than reason, so learn to show and not tell your audience how your brand can make them feel in order to create those super loyal, fully engaged customers.

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