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13 Absolute Steps Of Emotional Marketing- Its Power and Impact

The IQ and EQ are both an integral part of human decision making process. Consumers think with both, their rational and emotional brains. Studies show that purchases are made for emotional reasons. Logic comes to fore when money is to be justified, in terms of availability and spending, specially so when there is no real need, but it is a question of giving in to an emotional desire.

With regard to shopping habits, a Psychology Today article declares-

  • MRI neuro-image shows that consumers primarily use emotions like personal feelings and experiences, as opposed to information such as brand attributes, features, objective facts, when evaluating brands.
  • Emotional responses to an ad have greater impact on a consumer’s intent to buy, than the factual ad or the ad’s content, reveal advertising researches.
  • Likeabilities is the measure that most accurately predicts whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales or not, says Advertising Research Foundation.
  • Positive emotions towards a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments.
  • Emotions are the primary reason why a consumer gravitates towards a brand name or products. Generics is secondary. Big brands pump a steady stream of advertising dollars into branding initiatives.

Emotional reach and connect is a powerful marketing tool. Harnessing emotions to connect with their consumers, is the challenge and focus in a business  emotional marketing strategy. It is worth understanding how to harness emotions for marketing.

Long-Term ROI is an outcome of Positive Emotions

All human decisions are driven by emotions. Emotions keep human psyche motivated to get up and go to work at 6 am. Emotions convince us to run that extra mile on the treadmill, or do business with the brands that stand out in front of us.

Marketers often do not understand the power of emotional marketing. They focus on clicks, page views, time-on-site, and high conversion rates, not understanding that it is the emotional connect that makes all of it happen.

It is important for marketers to keep in mind that conversion optimization is a process. It is the whole emotional marketing  funnel, and not just the five minutes that it takes for the customers to sign a contract or commit to a sale.

Hence, the company needs to prioritize long-term relationships, over and above sales targets.

In a study conducted by Researchers at the University of Michigan, on how positivity affects a negotiation scenario, participants had to coordinate the final arrangements of booking a catering service for an upcoming wedding reception. The business manager of this catering company (a professional actor), explained that the quoted price of $14,000 would need to be increased by about $3,000, due to market pricing fluctuations.

 The study revealed that even a subtle change in pitch was liable to dramatically impact the outcome of the conversation. People who heard a positively toned pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal, as opposed to people who heard a negatively toned pitch.

Zappos is a brand that thrives on positive energy and aims to make its customers extremely happy, not just to attract customers, but also to keep people happy through the entire sales cycle.

Most companies consider call centers to be an external cost. But Zappos transformed call centers into a positive customer experience. Zappos representative do not follow a rigid script. Instead, Zappos encourages them to live in the moment, and let their personalities shine through, and deal with situations and customers creatively and positively, as the moment demands.

Also, Zappos is known for giving out happy perks like sending customers flowers, granting surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and staying on the phone with some customers for hours.

As says Shaea Labus, the employee who was on a call with a customer for almost 10 hours, “Sometimes people just need to call and talk. We don’t judge, we just want to help”.
Making the customers happy is gaining business from them for life. It empowers a business and helps it to stand out, above all competition.

emotional marketing

Engaging the Senses

Even though visual communication is at the heart of online marketing, it does not mean that the company is limited to two-dimensional communication only.

Appealing to the audience’s imagination is a way to harness the senses. Encouraging them to imagine an experience with the company’s products is a great way to harness their senses. Sound is a great tool. Talking to the customers, by producing a branded explainer video or by hosting a webinar is a powerful option.

Expensive or overly complicated creative is not really required. A success story like Spotify created a very simple visual and soundtrack when they launched themselves in the U.S.

Another business, Coastal, an ecommerce store that sells contact lenses and eyeglasses, offers a ‘try-it-on’ feature that helps customers experience what they’d look like in the new set of eyeglasses.

emotional marketing

Brand Personality and Traits

Personality is identity given to a person. It is an identity made up of a bunch of traits that we give to our friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances. These traits or qualities form a person’s distinctive character.

Like Beauty, personality is also in the eye of the beholder. We love people because of their personality traits. We hate people also because of their personality traits. We find some personalities wonderful and we find others horribly obnoxious.

Brands too have a personality. A brand is an identity made up of a set of attributes. It is a Personality. And understanding and defining a brand personality is essential to unleashing the power of emotional marketing.

Defining a Brand Personality

Every brand is made up of a set of attributes and traits. A brand personality is the set of these attributes that give an organization a distinct character. Some brands have strong and unique personalities while others have weaker personalities, or very non-descript personalities.

Brand personality revolves around a distinct set of attributes and their presentation in the market. This brand personality is the first element that reaches out to the emotions of the consumer or viewer.

Great personalities are not accidental, random or casual occurrences. They are strategically planned structures.

Moosejaw, a sports and outdoors goods retailer, has a brand personality of being fun-loving, experimental and adventurous, with an amazing sense of humor. Their emotional marketing  team is constantly trying new branding initiatives, like offering mystery gifts and freebies, and also deploying subtle humor tactics of making fun of the company’s own legalese. The company’s return policy, for instance, is hilarious. It’s a “living will”.

emotional marketing

Birthing of a Brand Personality

It is in the hands of the leadership to define the core structure of the company’s brand personality. Whether the brand personality is to be fun loving, serious, professional, or any combination of characteristics, the choice is in the hands of the business owners and leaders and the working team.

The company defines the brand personality up-front. This process of defining the brand personality must involve the entire team and not just a select few managers within the organization.

Involving the entire team is necessary because it is all the team members, at the ground level, who ultimately put this carefully designed personality into action. These team members plan new product features, business development tactics, and customer service offerings around this extremely important brand personality.

KISSmetrics company strives to be analytical, educational, helpful, to-the-point, metrics-driven, aggressive, and somewhat nerdy. These personality traits are consistently exhibited in all company interactions and creatives.

 These core brand personality traits are readily visible throughout the site, on the homepage, on the blog where the company shares its tips, how-tos, and detailed best practices in web analytics.

emotional marketing
emotional marketing

Creators of the Company’s Brand Identity

Everyone, the entire team of the company is responsible for the company’s brand identity.

The personality assigned to the brand touches every aspect of the business, from marketing copy to social media, customer emails, and product descriptions. Every single person in the team, executive leaders, mid-managers, and entry level team members, all should be able to clearly define and embody the brand personality.

The team members are in fact the company’s brand identity. In building the team, hiring and forming strategic partnerships, the company must hire people who live and breathe the brand’s core values. When the team is committed to a shared and focused set of values, it is easier to build and present the brand personality, and work within its framework.

Culture, marketing, and design are diverse business segments that work in tandem towards one single agenda and brand identity. To help the diverse goals to converge, a clear and uniform strategy needs to be defined from top to bottom, to give the brand a strong and defined personality.

Factors Defining the Company’s Brand Identity

Defining a brand identity is a process that takes careful planning and consideration. A professional team needs to be hired, along with a consultant to manage funds. This team is the core business asset that unifies the product, marketing, design, and customer communication.

To help get started, here is a list of guidelines:

  1. Defining a list of keywords that represents the brand image is the first step. The entire team can participate in this process of listing the key words. Whiteboard, Google doc, or spreadsheet to sketch out the details, and all tools that are effective, may be used to share ideas.
  2. Defining a list of keywords that describe how the brand is to be perceived by  the viewer, is the next step. Again, the entire team is involved in the process. The   two keyword lists are compared and examined. The gaps between who you are     (keyword list 1) and who you want to be (keyword list 2) is important to consider.

  3. Trimming down the list of keywords to 2-3 key phrases is the next daunting task. This process is excruciating. But relying on too many words to describe the brand is chaotic. The bottom-line is that human beings get overwhelmed with more information than they can handle or process. Anything extra is a wastage of time and effort.

  4. Creating a message architecture is an important step. Message architecture is a hierarchy of communication goals that clarify the brand’s most high-impact attributes. These attributes and terms reflect a broader discussion, to establish concrete, shared terminology and not just abstract concepts.

 There is no cookie-cutter approach to crafting t e brand’s message architecture. An approach that best aligns with the company’s goal must be selected. The brand’s identity must be clearly communicated and organized.

  5. Creating a style guide is the next important step. A style guide is a document that translates all of company ideas into a concrete set of instructions for the marketing team. This crisp and stylish document unifies the company’s brand messaging. It just takes a few sentences to keep the company on the same page.

A simple brand style guide can be structured in the following manner:

It is a simple concept. The less information your team has to filter through and process, the more they can focus on creating a cohesive marketing strategy.

Cheesiness is not Appealing

Emotions are a tricky zone. It is a thin line between being effective to downright cheesy, when it comes to emotions. One moment the brand is successfully building a rapport, and the next moment audiences are making fun of the company’s over-the-top marketing message. That fast the emotional appeal can fluctuate.

To avoid getting over emotional and cheesy, it is important to –

1. Embrace honesty within the organization. The team must be enabled to deliver direct and honest perspectives, freely

2. Collect feedback from a varied audience profile. Analyze and listen to the feedback from all the audience profiles, from baby boomers to the Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers, and encourage them to share ideas too.

3. Face a test on the marketing message, with a group of trusted customers. Ask this ‘focus group’ to deliver blunt and honest feedback.

4. Remember the needs of the target audiences. Baby boomers, for instance are more receptive to cheesy marketing messages than other groups. Gen Y-ers like the messaging to be more direct and straight and witty, and will tear any cheesy marketing apart.

Different profiles perceive cheesiness differently. The best way to connect with the audience is to put the marketing team in the shoes of the audience when formulating a emotional marketing  strategy.

Viral Marketing Campaigns

Viral marketing campaigns are a most powerful emotional marketing tool. They enable an instant emotional connect. “Dollar Shave Club”, for instance, used a hilarious marketing video to build a customer base, literally overnight.

It might look easy, but viral marketing campaigns are more formulaic than they appear to be. Performance is not guaranteed, but brands can optimize their chances of success by striking an emotional chord with their customers.

Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski, in a Harvard Business Review article, explain how marketers can increase the chances of a creating a successful viral campaign:

1. Make people care and share. The focus is not on selling the brand. The focus is to engage the audience with a powerful message. Heavy use of branding often pushes the viewers away. The audience will disregard such content and consider it a spam and quickly lose interest. Manipulating the audience’s emotions is not the right approach. Respecting the audience, and making an effort to understand their core needs, helps to define the right strategy.

2. It is imperative to understand the emotions that drive the success of a viral content. Patterns are at the core of human nature and behavior. Libert and Tynski conducted a study of 30 of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com, voted as the top social sharing site on Reddit. 

Negative emotions were less commonly found in the viral content. Positive emotion was more dominant. The viral success was still positive when negative emotions came with an element of anticipation and surprise. Certain emotions were common in viral content, and others were uncommon. Common emotions included: curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration.

3. The brand personality is built into an emotional message without making it sales. The key is to think about how the company, products, and services relate to the target audience. It is important to select a topic that underscores the position of the brand.

4. Public good must be taken into consideration and kept in focus at all times.

5. World focus is bigger than the brand. Customers notice a brand that puts focus on adding value to the world.

Unspoken Power of Delight

Happiness is important to all. We are all seekers of joy. Delight is a force that is infinitely more powerful than any marketing message.

The experience of watching a toddler use a smartphone for the first time, walking into your favorite boutique after a tough day, surrounded by racks of beautiful items and great music, Zappos surprising you with overnight shipping, are all situations that fill us with delight.

Delight as not something fluffy. The element of delight ties directly into the company’s ability to fill the audience with a feeling of instant joy or relief. It is true that the correlation between exposure to purple lighting in the Virgin Airlines check-in area, and profitability, cannot be measured. 

But delight influences sales positively, is apparent. Putting focus on growing the business by creating delightful brand experiences is more important than micromanaging details and getting stuck in numbers.

Creating Delight is carefully crafted into the core functional areas of the business:

• Product
• Marketing
• Account management/client services
• Aesthetics

Delight strikes a chord with the following emotions:

• Humor
• Inspiration
• Admiration
• Awe
• Surprise

Delight is a nebulous concept. Hence, it is important to distill the goals into a set of tangible steps, when it comes to the creation of Delight.

A delightful brand experience can be created with the help of the following simple steps:

• Evaluation of the customer’s pain points is important. Examine their online and offline behavior, research what they need, and piece together the touch points that illustrate their unique conversion paths. Talking to them directly helps to build brand persona around the answers they give.

• Defining the brand is imperative. Take into consideration all the research done in step 1, and translate the information into a concrete set of action items. Information gained must be distilled into one or two sentences about the company.

• Brainstorming action-items that deliver the intended brand experience is the next important step.

Branding must be measured at the macro-level. Attention to general trends in the customer data must always be taken into consideration.

• It is important to keep a tab on Repeat Customers. The number of customers coming back to do repeat business with that company is a good indication of success.

• Word of Mouth Recommendations are of great value. Shares through social media help to quantify this important concept. Even if it’s not a perfect 1:1 relationship, shares are a strong proxy with regard to how many people are engaging with the company and ultimately recommending the brand.

• Average Order Values are important to assess. A look at how much customers are spending with each individual transaction is a graph that must be monitored. A positive sign is when a growth line can be seen over time.

• Lifetime Customer Values are integral to success. It is important to monitor if the marketing initiatives are increasing the worth that the company is generating over the long- term or not.

• Market Share is another important aspect. The ranking of the brand compared to its top competitors and the customer loyalty with the company or the customers switching to other organizations, these are important questions that need to be addressed and monitored.

Delight can be crafted in tandem with the brand’s personality. Delight is customer-centric and brand personality is the brand-centric.

Adhering to Professional Ethics

Creating the right emotional appeal is not an easy task. There is a fine line between courting and manipulating customers. Emotions create a vulnerability. In appealing to emotions, brands are constantly walking on thin ice. It is extremely important to treat the customers with the utmost respect. Playing with customer vulnerability is a manipulation that can backfire.

For instance, fear is a powerful, yet heavily abused emotion. In some instances, fear is appropriate. Specially when it comes to vital health concerns, companies/brands/nonprofits have an obligation to inspire and evoke the emotion of fear. This ad from the CDC, for instance, is designed to stop people from smoking:

A person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threat or not, their efficacy, is the main element that influences whether a person is likely or not likely to take action to avoid a threat. Marketers and business owners can literally frighten their customers into making a purchase. 

It is not an ethical approach. Using fear tactics is a definite no. However, if communicating something truthful, and if saving the customers from a big problem, then use of fear tactic is fine.

The key is to give the brand a value test. It is important to assess whether the marketing message is adding or extracting value from the world. If the company is only extracting value like a leech, the approach needs to be changed.

Logitech brand strikes a good balance. Their ad for home video security system, is based around the questions that parents are already asking. While speaking to their audience’s fears, the marketing message, at the same time, is comforting because it shows worrisome parents that they are not alone in their fears.

Logitech’s “busted” video campaign exposes prospective customers to credible, real threats. This truthful addressing of fear is not unethical. And it is effective as the campaign makes the consumer consider buying a Logitech camera.

On the contrary, this ad is unethical as it takes fear tactics too far and beyond honest depiction. The ad reads “If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy”.

The ad is objectionable because it’s unreasonable. Hands covered in germs perhaps is ok. But covered in disgusting cockroaches, allowing those nonexistent cockroaches to crawl all over our children, is not an honest depiction.

Innumerable people have phobias of cockroaches and other insects. They are likely to get terrified after looking at such an unrealistic ad. And this is unethical.

Emotions expose vulnerabilities. Marketers should treat emotional campaigns carefully and thoughtfully, as one can never ascertain what the customer reaction can be to emotional targets.

Build Emotions into Brand Community

Social media is a great space for interaction. It is a way to encourage customers to talk about how they’re thinking and feeling about the company. Keeping this dialogue of sharing views open is important as it promotes word of mouth marketing around the brand.

There is however the risk of negative publicity when customers are angry about a negative experience. Then many companies resort to deleting negative comments or moving all customer communication into a private forum.

 But this is not the solution. Instead, if a problem arises, then such a situation can be used to advantage by showing that there is a real person behind the brand who is ready to face the angst of the customer. Apologizing makes the situation better, and also offering an amicable solution. Risk of a complaint or a negative review should not scare the

company from the positive and profitable experience of interacting with the customers in a public forum. Being authentic and showing that the brand cares, makes the brand attractive. Reciprocating emotions with emotions, and staying calm and balanced even if the conversation is heated, makes the brand credible, real and trustworthy.

In the case of a recent FedEx ad, a video of a careless package delivery driver went viral on YouTube. The company immediately released an official video statement saying, “I’m sorry. We’re on it”. It is human to err. Owning up to mistakes makes the company authentic for the customer and it helps to show that the company cares.

emotional marketing

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