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The Power of Emotional Marketing

The Power of Emotional Marketing

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: January 5, 2016 Updated: January 5, 2016

It's the time of year when everyone is throwing around predictions — and in the marketing world, emotion is shaping up to be a hot marketing trend for 2016. What does emotional marketing mean, and how can your small business tap into it?

Essentially, emotional marketing refers to marketing that arouses emotions within prospective customers. Emotional marketing has been around as long as advertising itself — after all, few purchases are made based purely on logic and reason. In recent years, however, scientific studies have proved the value of emotional marketing. One influential study, reported in Psychology Today, found that “when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).” The same study found that a viewer's emotional response to an ad was a greater influence on their intent to buy than the actual content of the ad — up to three times greater, in fact.

All humans feel four basic emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. While you probably don't want prospective customers to feel disgusted when they see your marketing materials, creating strong emotions — either positive or negative — can help build a bond between your customers and your business, increasing customer loyalty.

Emotional marketing is seeing a resurgence thanks to the growth of content marketing. Content can be used to tell a story about your business — and what is a story but something that creates emotions in the audience? Tech companies are working on futuristic products such as face-reading technology that can tell whether a digital advertisement or billboard makes viewers happy or sad and serves up additional marketing messages to suit that feeling. But even without this type of technology, your business can benefit from emotional marketing.

There's an old saying when creating marketing copy: “Focus on benefits, not features.” What's the difference? Features are the elements of your product or service, while benefits are how your product or service helps customers. In other words, features are factual, while benefits are emotional.

For example, the features of a shampoo might be that it's paraben-free, has no sulfates, contains keratin and gets your hair clean. Pretty boring, right? The stated benefits might be that it protects your expensive hair color, eliminates frizz and gives you smooth, shiny hair. The emotional benefits might be that it makes you the envy of all your friends and makes you more attractive. Emotional benefits are often conveyed indirectly — in this case, for example, by images of a beautiful girl with shiny hair surrounded by envious, frizzy-haired women, or male admirers.

Here are some other examples of benefits:

  • Your software simplifies tax preparation, meaning less stress, fewer spousal arguments, and saving customers money on their taxes.
  • Your cleaning service frees up working parents to spend weekends with their families instead of cleaning the house; keeps the house germ-and allergen-free for healthier children; and means the house is always ready for guests or entertaining.
  • Your day spa provides relaxation and pampering, allowing busy people to treat themselves to some down time.

Focusing on individuals is another way to generate emotion with your marketing. Why do so many advertisements use babies, puppies or kittens? They make us happy.  Why do commercials seeking donations for or hungry children show individual children instead of a crowd? Because focusing on individuals humanizes the story and makes us want to act.

Rather than showing just your product, service or location in your advertisements or marketing materials, use individuals to illustrate the emotional benefit of your product or service. This is especially effective if your product or service is hard to display visually (such as an online service or some type of technology). Show how what you sell makes this individual's life easier, happier, more relaxed or richer in some way (financially, socially or emotionally). For example:

  • Instead of just pictures of your restaurant’s menu items, show happy people enjoying the meals.
  • Instead of the service bays at your auto repair shop, show a satisfied customer getting the keys to his clean and shiny car from a uniformed employee.
  • Instead of a computer, show how your IT service enables a business owner to lean back and relax with a big smile, because you’re taking care of everything for her.

By implementing emotional triggers in your marketing, you'll attract more customers — and keep them longer.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades