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Marvin Chaulk, Vice-President, Senior Consultant
OPEN Communications


the opinions and musings behind the expertise

Blog Author: Marvin Chaulk

Emotion for a Change

Marvin Chaulk

Posted: April 4, 2014

Everyday, I peruse promotional materials because that is primarily the business I am in – ads, product sell sheets, display booths, brochures, websites, etc. At one end of the spectrum, I am amazed at how many brands still exist that focus on the functional aspects of the product or service. But yet on the other end, I can relate. The natural tendency for anyone who has created a product or service is to want to discuss all the virtues of what makes their offering special.

What we create ourselves is inherently wonderful, otherwise we wouldn’t have invested so much time, energy, and money to make it a reality. Our invention is so central to our own psyche that you want to sing it from the mountaintops. But sometimes the true magic happens when you separate yourself from what you are doing.

People buy based on emotion. In fact, they say up to 80% of a purchase decision is related to emotion. When was the last time you bought something from someone you didn’t like or trust? Do you gravitate to ads that make you feel good or those that personify the person you envision yourself being? These are all emotional triggers that convince you to buy one particular product over another.

Emotions are powerful. They evoke action. They drive change. So it would make sense that positioning your company or offerings based on emotional attributes would yield the best results. Branding is all about tapping into this emotion and connecting with your target audience in a meaningful way. It is about creating a positive experience time and time again that becomes synonymous with your company.

The next time you watch some TV, resist the urge to change channels during the commercials. Instead, analyze each commercial and see if they are positioning themselves from a functional or emotional perspective. Which commercials do you feel were more impactful?

The challenge with emotion-based positioning is the complexity. It is much easier to focus on the functional aspects of your product or service because it is tangible and measurable. But if you spend enough time with your existing and potential customers, you will start to figure out some of the emotional triggers that equate with why they buy your product or service. I often ask clients to contact their top 10 customers and ask the simple question of why they chose them over the competition. You’ll be amazed at what you get back. Sometimes the answers are functional but, during the conversation, you pick up the emotional triggers as well. And sometimes they will tell you it ‘helped them sleep at night’.

Sometimes we think of our customers based on the role they play in their firm. I try to think of the customer beyond their work function. They go home and spend time with friends and families. They worry like the rest of us. Sometimes, they have challenges at work that keep them up at night. Imagine what they would do to rest easy and get a good night’s sleep. When you connect at that level, the results will follow.

The next time you are developing promotional materials, writing proposals, or developing sales pitches, consider ‘emotion for a change’.