Industry Word

Blogs.Industry Word


The Power of Emotional Marketing

Comment Count:

Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.

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 and visit 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


Rieva, thank you for this excellent article. Being in sales for well over 2 decades I worked both the marketing and sales of the beauty business. No matter what industry you are in, it's all about making your client happy. It is not rocket science, just simple logic, which boils down to emotional marketing with easy to understand words, no hype, and getting to the point.
I think all marketers should take it as a personal challenge to inject more emotion into their writing, design, advertising, email, and all campaigns in 2016. Bland marketing simply does not resonate with the target. Bold marketing that connects with prospects on an emotional level really helps your marketing stand out from the crowd and move the needle. Even for the most boring industries or the most technical products, a little bit of emotion and benefit-driven marketing can make your company/product/service exciting! Great tips!
No doubt emotional marketing keeps customers and client at forefront and let them know how they can be benefitted but an absolute focus on emotional marketing would gradually spread a wicked acknowledgements that people are being played with their emotions and all marketing efforts would end up by single statement that "its all marketing" so how to avoid such aggregated bad thoughts, yes...a mixture of factual and emotional strategies where first two shots of emotional and every third based on realistic feature oriented point help people understand what they are being fed by advertisement. Thus people would realize its marketing end of the day but they would love to know more in terms of benefits (emotional) and feature that bring benefit (feature). This is what how I think.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to leave comments. If you already have an account, Log In to leave your comment.

New users, Register for a new account and join the conversation today!