The importance of emotion in marketing
Have you ever over-ruled all logical arguments when making a decision? Just because it 'feels right'?
Emotions and feelings are at the epicentre of everything we do – day-in, day-out.We go to bed when we feel sleepy. We eat when we feel hungry. We smile and laugh when we feel happy. We cry when we feel sad. Emotions make us feel connected – with ourselves and with each other.
Our feelings influence our thoughts and our thoughts influence our feelings. Both influence our actions. Both can influence buying behaviour.
Overtime patterns of behaviour become intrinsically linked with feelings and emotion. They become rooted in the unconscious mind. Different studies quote slightly different figures, but around 80-90% of what we feel isn’t actually controlled by our conscious mind; it’s controlled by our unconscious mind. By conclusion, the unconscious mind must play a big part in the decision-making or buying process.
"Around 90% of buying decisions are made in the unconscious mind." Levinson, Guerilla Marketing.
To lead someone to buy from you, you must tap into this unconscious mind as they go through the buying process one step at a time. You must understand your buyer’s thoughts and feelings throughout the process. It is central to effective marketing.
Typically, people are hard-wired to get away from feelings of pain, discomfort or unhappiness. Product pushing in the noise of today’s fast paced world of information-overload is unlikely to get much notice or traction. It’s important to explain what your product does, but it’s critical to explain quickly what it does for them – what point-of-pain it addresses. While it is never easy to attract attention, by focussing on pain-points as your primary hook, for which you have a solution, you’ll find it’s a whole load easier.
Once you’ve engaged your audience you need to keep them engaged. You need to take them on a journey; on a journey to a ‘happier place’. Once hooked, it’s now time to delve into the logic. That is the detail of what your product does, what it doesn’t, how it does it and how much it costs. At this stage buyers are consider whether your product is really right for them. There may be a whole load of information they might be interested in at this stage – from calorie count to pixel count depending on your industry!
While there is no question that emotional engagement is critical in capturing awareness and interest, do buyers really go through a stage of just thinking logically? Do we really think our way through the logic to make a decision? Or do feelings still come into it?
It’s not the actual cost that will make us buy or not, but it is how we
feel about that cost that will make it okay to buy or not.
Working this through, a logical piece of information may be how much something costs. It’s not the actual cost that will make us buy or not, but it is how we feel about that cost that will make it okay to buy or not. For example, is it affordable or not? Or does the benefit of purchase - the ‘happier place’ - make it worth it?
Evaluation is an inherent part of the buying process. Your buyer will want to get all the techy, logical information they need to feel comfortable to move to the next step: purchase. So even in this logical step in buying decision emotion still plays a part.
Finally, on the home straight: your buyer is engaged and feels comfortable they know what they need to know. You can still screw it up. For example, if your point of sale system fails or all of a sudden your buyer is passed to a servicing area that doesn’t fit with their experience of your company so far, you can lose them. If at any point alarm bells start to ring in your buyers mind their unconscious mind can undermine all your hard work.
At point of purchase, is the time you want you buyer must feel at ease and confident. Now is the time to reinforce the positive feelings. Take them as far away as possible from the pain-points they started out with. Make the final step easy and as pleasurable as possible to maximise the positive emotions swirling around.
Take time to understand the trigger feelings to be truly effective at marketing
To be truly effective at marketing, you need to understand and map out your buyers emotional journey. The unconscious mind reacts instantaneously to what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Take time to understand the trigger feelings and burning questions at each step. Take time to think about how you want your buyer to feel at each step in their buying process. In mapping this out it becomes possible to choose the right information, the right words, the right imagery and colours (sounds and smells if applicable) to deliver an exquisite end-to-end customer experience.
Jane Cuthbertson is a Chartered Marketer based in Stirling, Scotland. She is a natural problem solver with a keen eye to maximise any opportunities. She has a passion for putting herself in the buyers’ shoes to truly understand their needs and expectations. With a diverse marketing background, she specialises in setting strategic marketing plans with long-term goals and is skilled in implementing integrated marketing programmes that deliver sales results.