Making Rational and Emotional Appeals in Marketing

EAG, April 24, 2019

There is a good reason why consumers in general feel like a number. It is because they are so often seen and treated as one. Sales and marketing become formulaic. To get X number of sales then Y number of touchpoints should be made. To make X dollar amount, then X number of service or product must be sold. The Xs overshadow the “whys” of your marketing and customers lose their humanity and become a number to it. If you look at the truly successful companies in the world, you’ll notice that no matter how big they get, they work hard on their emotional connection marketing.

Invoking Emotion in Marketing
What evokes emotion? Fears, desires and ambitions. These are three big concepts to hit in rational and emotional appeal in marketing.

Emotion in marketing isn’t new. All good marketing invokes some feelings. Even those feelings that we’d rather not face, so much as a product or service helping us avoid them. For example, the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials. We fear being alone in our old age and the Life Alert ensures someone will come to our rescue.

Security alarm companies are another prime example. Their marketing will often take us on an emotional journey of thinking about our home or business being burglarized and how it can be prevented. And, many times, it is an event that causes one to seek security alarms to avoid ever feeling that violated again. In that case, the emotion is empathy.

Emotion in marketing doesn’t have to always focus on fear. Emotional marketing can speak to our memories from childhood, our relationships with family and friends, our roles as parent or child, and even what brings us joy.

Folgers coffee is an example that used marketing that touched on all those points. (Side note: being a Kansas City-based advertising and marketing firm, oh how we miss the smell of roasted coffee wafting from the Folgers building that’s now an apartment complex.) Remember when the best part of waking up was Folgers in your cup? The marketing played on the emotions of parents waiting for their college children to come home for the holidays. It invoked a sentiment that related that brand of coffee with the feeling of waking up to happiness and joy.

How Emotional Connection Marketing Helps Your Small Business
Making an emotional connection in your marketing gives your prospects and customers a reason to buy your product or use your services. It sets your business apart from the competition. There may be dozens or even hundreds of other brands of coffee on the market, but when they think of their safety in old age, their homes and businesses or their morning coffee, they remember the brand that spoke to them, not as just one of many consumers, but as a senior, a parent, a homeowner. The marketing team has created a relationship between the buyer and their product or service. Emotional marketing does more than make someone want to buy your product or your services. It makes that consumer keep coming back for more.

Any business owner knows that it’s one battle to get customers into the funnel, but earning their loyalty is how you win the war.

How to Use Rational and Emotional Appeals in Marketing
Small businesses do not have the big marketing budgets that Life Alert or Folgers or ADT have. Nor will they have a need to produce commercials for prime time airing on national television.

Using rational and emotional appeals in small business marketing requires understanding your customers and speaking to their emotions in marketing messages, which could be as small as a social media post or as big as your year-long email or direct mail marketing campaign or website content.

  • Don’t be afraid to use emotive language in marketing messages. Words and images full of emotion can be just as effective and authentic in emails as they are in television commercials.
  • Send thank you cards when a customer might not be expecting one, as well as birthday correspondence, to help solidify personal connections with customers. Apple is a great company, but no one receives a birthday card from it.
  • Offer special promotions that are only available to customers. Building a relationship with your most loyal customers is what keeps your business successful, just as much as trying to attract new customers. After all, it is easier (and cheaper) to retain an existing customer than it is to get a new one.

At some point, most small business owners get bogged down in the numbers, and it can be easy to forget about the human element. However, customers don’t purchase products solely based on need, and they don’t choose brands on want. There are just too many options today. If consumers aren’t loyal to one brand, there are hundreds more out there from which to choose. Small businesses that speak to their customers, person to person, are the ones that keep loyal customers who become brand advocates for them.


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