Capture a prospect's heart, and you’ll capture a customer.
Why are emotions so important to your marketing and branding? By making an emotional connection with your audience through storytelling, you can help them make a decision to buy from you.
The role of emotions in marketing
A while back, I had the fortune of sitting among a group of entrepreneurs, all seeking guidance on how to attract customers and “brand their business."
The keynote speaker at this early morning conference was the former Branding Director for Coca-Cola. Remember the resurgence of Cherry Coke at the turn of the millennium? This was the guy behind it.
During his presentation, he mentioned two things which captured my attention:
- Tell your prospective customers a story. Your story.
- A study that showed...
People who were unable to process or show emotion were also incapable of making decisions. If you can somehow capture someone's emotions, then you can ultimately assist in their decision-making process.
This is marketing gold.
But first, I had to do some research to find out if his advice was true.
The neuroscience of emotions & decisions
Dr. Antonio Damasio is a professor of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy at the University of Southern California, as well as the head of the Brain and Creativity Institute. He conducted a study on individuals with damage to the frontal lobe of their brain, which is the area that limits or negates emotion. In this study, he found these individuals could do everything a person does in their typical day — except one thing.
They could not make a decision, no matter its consequence (or lack thereof). Emotions are critical to decision making.
Damasio's study notes the natural progression of human emotion: stimuli, emotion, decision, and feelings.
Ever felt your heart race with joy or anxiety? Or felt your heart sink when you find out someone has died?
- You hear the news (stimuli).
- Your heart races (emotion).
- You decide how you’re going to react (decision).
- Your brain tells you how you feel about it (feelings).
Now think about companies who are monsters at marketing and have a loyal following. They all are successful at:
- Stimuli: Creating compelling copy, ads, commercials, images, logos, and so on.
- Emotional response: Making their potential consumers react.
- Decision: Driving their potential customers to action (or to make a purchase).
- Feelings: Making their customers feel that if they don’t act, they'll be missing out. (Think getting swept up in Black Friday deals. Do you really need a 46-inch TV for $195?)
Starting to make sense now, isn’t it? Let’s take it a step further and go back to why all those entrepreneurs were at this conference I attended.
The power of branding
We tend to think of "brand" or "branding" as who a company is as a business. But it's also the literal brand mark or logo. Outside of marketing, what other image does the term "branding" conjure up? Taking a literal "hot brand" and branding cattle, right?
Imagine this: if you make a strong enough emotional connection with a customer/consumer, you won’t brand them, but they will brand themselves!
Don’t believe us?
Go to a NASCAR race and see how many people in the crowd have a Chevy or Ford tattoo. (Favorite joke: How does a NASCAR fan count to 10? One, two, Earnhardt, four, five...)
Go to your local coffee shop and see how many students proudly display stickers from their favorite brands on their laptops.
Take a drive around town and see how many people have a Red Sox, Yankees, Giants, or Cowboys bumper sticker,
If you're thinking to yourself, “that’s all well and good, but I don't have a multi-million/billion dollar company," remember, every business started out small!
Connecting with your customers through emotions & storytelling
There has never been a better time in history for you to tell your story. The world is getting smaller and people are searching for businesses they believe in. Remember....
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. — Simon Sinek
Customers of today are not the customers of years gone by. They think differently! They’re craving something, anything different! They’re tired of the old, They care about new. They care about tomorrow! They care about people. Isn't it time for you to start thinking differently about your brand and the relationship you are trying to plant, water, and grow with your customers?
Stop trying to make them loyal to you. Stop telling them to be loyal to you.
Instead, start telling them a story. Start by telling them YOUR story. If it's even a fraction as good as you know it to be, then your customers will turn into your best brand advocates.
And we'd be honored if you let us help tell your story.
[Editor's note: This blog was originally published on October 19, 2018 and updated on May 24, 2022.]