Advertising with Emotion

March 10, 2016

Why we buy with our hearts and not our heads?

Every day we are bombarded with an avalanche of advertisements.

Thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands ooze into our lives through social media sites, on TV, radio, in our newspapers and magazines, on billboards, posters and flyers – everywhere you turn you will be met with somebody trying to sell you a product or an ideology promising a better way of life. Sometimes you don’t event notice the sale!

As a consumer it’s pretty overwhelming, so I fully appreciate how difficult it can be for a client who is trying to cut through all this commercial clutter and connect with potential customers. It would be great to have that magic wand that instantly reveals the formula for attracting (and securing) long-term customers.

There’s no single right answer of course, but my experience over the years keeps pointing back to one common denominator – you need to create a strong emotional connection with your customers and it is generally centered around trust. That’s true whether you’re a new business trying to get a foothold or you’re an established company that is looking to maintain a loyal customer-base.

You might have the best product or service in the world, but in many cases that still won’t get you increased sales if your potential customers aren’t “getting you”. And that’s why emotion plays such a big role in securing support for your business and creating goodwill when people think about your brand.

But, how do you generate this emotion? How do you get into a customer’s psyche?

Remember, that magic wand is still under construction, but I believe there are four effective ways you can tap into your audience’s emotions that will bring positive results through increased sales and better brand awareness.

So, see if you agree with my emotional “Fantastic Four”:

1. Make ’em go “awwwwww”

This is easy! Get puppies – a lot of them – and let them roll around, jump around, bite each other or just wander into a corner and take a snooze (see if you can catch one yawning).

Nothing appeals to human emotions more than adorable images because we feel a deep connection with positive, upbeat photographs or video. As important as it is to be ‘selling’ your product, just as importantly you want your audience to be taking your brand to heart. And the cute factor immediately tugs at the heart strings.

Cute, sad, thought-provoking, endearing or playfully disarming – if the emotional stakes are high enough your audience changes from passive observers to valuable advocates who have an emotional investment in your brand.

Some of the biggest brands have employed animals to sell their product. Perhaps Budweiser, Android and Kleenex perhaps are onto something?

2. Make ‘em sad (but not TOO sad)

It seems odd to contradict myself this early, but when we speak about emotion we need to remember that, like Krispy Kremes, too much of a good thing can be your undoing.

Footage of a misty-eyed father at his daughter’s wedding will bring a strong connection with an audience (whether male or female). We can instantly appreciate the feelings that he is experiencing and understand the significance of this all-important day.

We think of our own wedding, or those of our family and friends. We are that father or that daughter. It’s a very powerful attention grabber – and an effective one.

But, and it’s a big but, don’t go…..too…..far. A tearful dad is emotive and touching. However, that same ‘father’ rolling on the ground sobbing inconsolably or blubbering into a hankie is over the top and a little cringe-worthy – it makes us feel uncomfortable.

And that’s exactly what you don’t want. I exaggerate to highlight that we (as an audience) can quickly shift gears from compassion and understanding to putting up the emotional shutters. We are conditioned to ‘run a mile’ from anything we associate with embarrassment, fear or awkwardness.

Negative emotion is just as strong as its positive equivalent.

If you’re going to be using a negative situation to feature your product or service then ensure it’s done with kid gloves (revealing how your product can turn the situation around).

Another alternative is to use the samedark situation in a humorous sense (allowing the audience to be in on the joke and feel at ease with what is playing out) because if you alienate your audience you may never get them back.

The link below was my favourite of the Christmas season. I was reaching for the tissues….and I googled John Lewis!

3. Make ‘em feel inspired

Whether you want to tackle the Boston marathon, write that best-selling novel or start a new business – you need a bucket load of motivation to keep yourself focused and on track. You need to feel inspired. Stimulated. Driven. Because we’re told that nothing breeds success like success.

That’s why motivational advertising works so well.

Your audience loves to see winners winning. They love to see losers fighting back – climbing off the canvas and overcoming adversity. Motivation drives us to achieve and when we see an inspirational message or image it reminds us that we can achieve as well.

You want your target audience to believe your product can help them achieve that success.

All the sportswear and sports shoe giants are masters at it – and while you mightn’t have Michael Jordan or Roger Federer to call on to endorse your product, you can still create a very positive reaction to your brand by appealing to your customers’ desire to “associate with a winner”.

Nike does it well:

4. Make ‘em laugh

Comedians will tell you that laughter is a drug – both for them and their audience. And they’re not far off the mark. When we laugh, endorphins are released creating a sense of well-being that both relieves stress and even boosts the immune system.

Bottom line, laughing makes us feel good and so there is possibly no better vehicle for promoting your brand than through the use of humour.

When done well, your product will be the talk of the town with audiences eager to share your message with their friends and family. They won’t hit the skip button or change channel – they’ll watch your ad again and again……all the while subconsciously associating your brand with positive, happy thoughts.

But humour is very subjective – what makes you laugh hysterically may not even raise a grin from the next person, so don’t try to be too “out there” or you may lose your audience.

Who would’ve thought we would see Betty White in a snickers ad?

Whether using humour, sadness, inspiration or dipping into ‘the big bag of cute’ to create your next marketing campaign, always focus on the benefits of your product (or service) in your message.

Remember, you’re not selling products, you’re selling solutions

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