Even this title uses one of them! Read on to discover which potent emotional traits your business is overlooking — before keen competitors beat you to it
Humans ‘feel’ first, and ‘think’ afterwards. The emotional part of our brains is able to process sensory information 80% faster than the cognitive section.
If you run your own business, or your work involves any aspect of marketing or sales, it’s a key fact you must acknowledge in your quest to continually attract new and repeat customers.
A fundamental component (and mighty driving force) of human behavior:
Our symbolic hearts and minds are certainly closer connected than the old ‘head or heart’ saying suggests.
By the end of the article, you’ll understand why choosing to lead your brand with the power of emotion makes your job far easier.
Studies in neuro-imagery show that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features and facts).
The right side of our brain is the magic area on which to focus.
In contrast, if you’re dismissing the ‘right brain’ and not leveraging human emotion to sell — you’re also missing a big, central piece of the customer experience jigsaw.
So, in order to create a much deeper impact on your audience while crafting a memorable, enjoyable CX — ensure emotion is a top priority.
While you may already be aware of a number of common emotions deliberately portrayed in marketing and sales material (happiness, sadness, pride etc.), below you’ll find several of those potentially lesser-known, and sometimes misunderstood or applied distastefully.
Try experimenting with these and see what happens.
Emotion #1: Apply Altruism (It’s Addictive)
What is altruism, exactly?
Altruism is a subset of kindness; when we selflessly act to improve others’ wellbeing and/or state of mind, even when this may result in an actual or perceived cost to ourselves.
Brands directly apply altruistic techniques like this:
Altruism originally denotes helping other beings without any expectation of reward — although ‘reciprocal altruism’ is a term used by psychologists to describe a form of altruism that involves a level of anticipation for return gestures…
It could be said that brands’ efforts typically derive from the latter.
Some of the desirable feelings associated with altruism are joy, satisfaction and gratitude; it essentially makes us feel good.
Pleasant feelings are precisely what keep people coming back to buy again and again. Altruism is addictive because it stimulates the production of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin inside our bodies (each of these related to feeling pretty damn awesome).
For example, the underlying message to customers via the below Pampers packaging is that by choosing their brand, you help babies other than your own — so caring parents will naturally feel a combined sense of admiration, belonging, and accomplishment from their purchase decision.
This type of ‘cause marketing’ creates remarkably strong loyalty because a customer begins to identify with a brand, rather than merely buying its products or services.
The brand psychologically becomes a part of their life, and even their self-image.
When such magic happens, it’s difficult for similar brands to make an impression and interrupt the addictive relationship.
You can connect such amazing emotions to your business by applying altruism, leading to not only a potentially enhanced brand perception — but more exposure and sales, even if you are genuinely not concerned with these by-products (when they are specifically so).
But what about B2B brands that wish to become openly altruistic?
Emotions actually play a deeper role in the buyer sales cycle than they do in consumer sales…
A hugely impressive six-year study across 30,000 data points confirmed it:
“B2B buyers who have an intimate brand connection are approximately 60% more likely to consider, purchase, and pay premium rates.”
(Source: Colin Shaw via Beyond Philosophy)
It’s clear that whatever your industry, your audience is physically programmed to respond to emotion.
Heavy research and planning will ensure altruism works for your brand, without the possible negative effects.
It’s often harder to connect corporate business to a relevant cause without stirring up any skepticism.
The worst possible scenario is being recognized as a shallow brand with ulterior motives, so either be authentically dedicated to helping others, or avoid beginning a journey on this path at all.
Don’t just dive into altruism. Carefully strategize it like any other business activity.
Emotion #2: Construct Fear (Very Wisely)
You might initially be thinking, “How on earth does a reputable brand use fear to sell?”
Although worlds apart from altruism, fear can surprisingly be even more influential.
The truth is, popular businesses utilize this emotion all the time. It’s the concept and delivery of fear that matters.
The types of fear that work are soft variations that engage customers’ subconscious minds without them paying deliberate attention to what’s taking place.
Would you have given these fear-inducing taglines a second thought?
- Gillette: “The Best A Man Can Get”
If a guy doesn’t shave with Gillette, they aren’t living up to the expectation for males.
- L’Oreal: “Because I’m Worth It”
Targets the aesthetic insecurities of people.
- Apple: “Think Different”
If you don’t buy Apple products, you think the same as ‘normal’ people.
- Nike: “Just Do It”
Lose out if you don’t commit in time or don’t take an opportunity.
- FedEx: “Absolutely, Positively Overnight”
Fear missing a deadline.
They are all seemingly subtle taglines on the surface, but psychologically commanding when you dissect them.
The scientific reason why massive brands apply this emotion so frequently is quite simple:
Fear is one of the strongest emotions because it has been helping us survive since the days of cavemen; we’re hardwired to keep ourselves safe. Fear is what activates our ‘fight or flight’ response in situations we perceive to be dangerous.
The key is to inspire the optimal balance of fear — too little and it’ll be ignored, too much and you will either anger or repel people (i.e. the ‘fight or flight’ situation).
An ideal outcome is driving people towards your pleasurable offering because it steers them away from the pain you magnify.
But while you have to be careful deploying altruism — acutely factoring fear into your material can dramatically up the ante.
Some dare to tread where others won’t:
It all depends on your brand’s purpose, and your specific audience.
Get it wrong and you may be viewed as extremely manipulative in a highly personal manner, leading to all sorts of dire consequences.
Don’t make it an unpleasant face of your for-profit brand:
The ad also featured imagery where a woman spits out blood that’s come from her gums and reveals a gap-toothed smile.
Needless to say, it backfired badly.
There is a very, very fine line between clever fear marketing or advertising, and promo that quickly becomes classed as offensive.
Be subtle, elegant, and intelligent.
Also, it’s a great deal safer to stick with less-obtrusive strategies.
Remember at the very beginning that the title applies a certain emotion?
If you hadn’t already guessed, it’s the fear of missing out (FOMO):
* 3 Super-Persuasive Emotions You Haven’t Used *
Did it make you want to click and read?
FOMO is an entry-level technique to dip your toes in the water — as you’ve seen, it needn’t be sinister or complex — and it’s mighty effective.
And it unquestionably entices people to buy on impulse:
Another valuable reason to use FOMO is its flexibility; it’s not as restrictive like the other forms of fear marketing, purely because it’s less risky when done right.
I mean, you can pretty much just be as blatant as you want about your brand’s application of the technique:
Limited time offers, countdown timers, displayed stock levels and exclusivity — they are all common FOMO methods designed to surge sales via the emotional mechanism of fear that naturally takes place inside of us.
Follow three steps to ensure your FOMO efforts pay off without causing any damaging impressions:
- Communicate a relatable ‘threat’ that is neither too forceful or weak
- Convince your audience that your product or service is the solution to this threat
- Make it easy for your audience to convert and become customers (via clear CTAs)
Emotion #3: Acknowledge Greed (& Leverage It)
Thanks to the relatively new ease of sharing either our genuine or self-professed fruits of success via the internet and social media, excessive desire is much more common today than a few decades ago.
It’s no wonder thriving brands also inconspicuously latch on to this emotion to win sales.
Many of us won’t admit to feeling greedy, but we all have an element of this stigmatized emotion within us.
Think about it: Discount deals, Black Friday, buy one get one free offers, product bundles, gambling, and get rich quick schemes.
Notably, we want the best and most of everything without investing heaps of effort, time or money — and we are always on the lookout for high perceived value at low apparent cost.
No need to do anything. Just claim it!
You might not even need 1.2GB of data — but hey, it’s free!
And that’s precisely the mindset that ensures businesses make money while promoting in this manner.
Like fear, greed-focused marketing and advertising is clever because it usually flies smoothly under the customer’s conscious mental radar — it’s yet another automatic function within our brain.
Fear and greed can also often go hand-in-hand, with a dash of social proof, scarcity and urgency added to the persuasive mix for good measure.
Here’s an ideal display of this collection of cognitive techniques:
#1 = Social Proof
#2 = Urgency + Scarcity
#3 = Greed
#4 = FOMO / Urgency
Hotel comparison sites invest heaps of resource into testing their pages for maximum conversion rate — so it’s a good idea to at least have a play and absorb how they work (although some of their tactics can be deemed too pressurizing, or even deceitful).
On the complex topic of ‘free’, there are a few significant points to be aware of here.
This seemingly magical, greed-focused word can work wonders some of the time, while actually repelling potential customers in other situations.
For instance, take these scenarios:
- Overuse of ‘free’ (or even any use of it!) in the enterprise B2B space isn’t going to do you any favors because it can damage trust when substantial amounts of money and savvy buyers are involved — they want premium value rather than cheapness, and there’s a big difference
- On the other hand, buying one chocolate bar and getting another ‘free’ is quite attractive to anybody who eats chocolate (and I don’t need a link to attest this one!)
A few delightfully quick changes can lead to surprising uplifts in sales.
For example, a method that relies on anchoring — a technique where much higher-priced items can be found deliberately placed next to lower-priced options in order to create the perception of better value:
> Luxurious Diamond Ring: $2,999
> Ultra-Rare Sapphire Ring with White Gold: $11,500
The most expensive (and sometimes deliberately unrealistic) option makes the cheaper price and/or product seem like a real bargain buy, meaning you obviously bag an amazing deal as a customer…
Look how costly the ring seems on its own!
Luxurious Diamond Ring: $2,999
Anchoring is also used to attract leads that can be nurtured (via a free package option), or to highlight how much value can be obtained by purchasing the full product or service.
3 packages or options has been proven to be the sweet spot when displaying price anchors.
Above all, context is your prime concern — understand your audience’s greed, know their tolerances, and work towards that coveted sweet spot of emotional harmony + conversion optimization.
If there’s one key takeaway for you, it’s this:
Emotion creates memories.
Getting married, passing a driving test, bagging a promotion — under normal circumstances, people never forget these events or the emotions that bloom from them.
This embeddable nature of emotion grants a powerful opportunity to you as a marketer, salesperson or business owner.
Yet, it also presents a considerable element of risk.
Bad memories produce negative emotions — don’t be the brand that conveys these feelings because you will find the road to redemption a very tough and winding one.
PS. Being personable also creates a bond and positive emotions. Yes, even in B2B.