Cast your mind back to Christmas 2010. Remember the John Lewis ad with Tom O’Dell’s cover of “Real Love”, serenading scenes of the heart warningly beautiful relationship between a child and his toy penguin Monty. I challenge you to watch it and not get a lump in your throat and an overwhelming urge to hug a loved one.
Now cast your mind back the Safestyle adverts with the long haired northern chap pushing UPVC windows over whilst saying “You buy one, you get one free! I said you buy one, you get one free!” The ad focusses on pushing the sales promotion and perhaps loosely, the quality of their windows. Not a goosebump in sight, yet the advert clearly has a strategically functional purpose.
In the world of marketing, we define these differences as emotional appeals vs rational appeals. Both have their purposes and benefits, but how can SME’s in their day to day micro-budget marketing capitalise on these, and which one is better than the other?
Making a decision to apply an emotional appeal (a feeling) or rational appeal (thinking) is often decided by the level of involvement that the customer exerts in their information search (a stage most of us go through when deciding to purchase something or looking at purchasing options). The lower the level of risk perceived by the buyer, the less information they will require in order to be converted to a sale (i.e. Milk). Visa versa, the more perceived risk is involved (financially, socially, or even time based), the more information the consumer will require to satisfy their needs.
Developments in the study of the power of emotional appeals show that the lasting effect is far more enduring than a message requiring rationalisation. According to Shuki Mann from the Conversioner.com, “Neuroscientists say that the act of thinking uses up three times more energy than less challenging tasks, and the brain is on idle mode when in the non-thinking state 95% of the time.” Therefore, “people are more susceptible to emotional appeals since their brains are mostly in an idle, subliminal state.”
So emotional appeals are potentially far more impactful, yet most SME’s apply a
rational approach to their marketing and advertising. Why? You only have to read through local newspapers or scan websites to see that emotional appeals are few and far between.
So how do you create an emotional appeal?
I like to ask the question “why?” about everything. Look at your products or services and ask why 10 ten times, and you’ll start to dig deeper in order to establish what we call a means-end-goal.
Lets create an example. A furniture manufacturer called Northampton ACME Furniture wants to give this a go...
Customer needs a sofa. Why?
Customers current sofa is old and had it. Why?
Customer sits on it every night after work and has worn it out? Why?
Customer works hard at work as she really wants to be promoted to head of department and is therefore knackered when she gets home. Why?
Customer wants to be able to afford a better life, bigger house, more holidays, bigger car. Why?
Customer had a hard childhood, with little money and wants to be able to offer her children the life she never had. Why? Customer Loves her children unconditionally and would do anything for them, and sees her hard work and her purchase of niceties as a reflection of this.
Boom, you have an emotional appeal that can then be worked up to be reflected by your brand character and associated messages. EG Northampton ACME Furniture: Your family, your memories, your sofa [Imagery of family milestones represented from parents perspective e.g. childs first kiss, child tucked up on the sofa, marriage proposal etc. These are chosen to evoke a feeling and emotion.
From the perspective of consumer interaction with the communications, bear in mind that if we use the AIDA approach (Attention, interest, desire, action), your emotional appeal should quickly gain attention, then your content should generate interest, and create a desire to act in some way that you stipulate. So get your rational and emotional components lined up together to support each other.
Take the risk, get your customers emotional about something important to them and have fun doing it!
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