Emotion Promotion

Even heartless people have emotions.

Well, perhaps not politicians, but people to who you sell products do. Even battle-hardened CTOs have emotions that can be leveraged to market your wares. Identifying and correctly touching those emotions is a tricky process and one that can backfire fatally if you choose wrong. It is the difference between smiling at the pretty girl at the end of the bar and stalking her … two different emotional responses producing either romance or incarceration.

left-right-brainsSilicon Strategies Marketing’s most popular white paper is “Selling Empathy – the power of positioning and branding.” In it we discuss how emotions work in marketing technology products to IT people, and how emotional drivers should become part of your brand. Every human brain, aside from those in drug addicts and congressmen, has left and right hemispheres that process all we know about the world around us. Emotions swirling in the right side of the skull exist to enhance survival by either instilling fear or attachment and trust. These emotions bias opinions out of instinctive response.

Biasing purchasing decisions is greatly enhanced by toying with understanding people’s emotions.

This is not speculation. Practitioners of neuromarking (the science of monitoring brain activity to see how different marketing activities affect buyers) have discovered that purely emotional campaigns are nearly twice as effective as completely rational ones. Think about this as you scan advertising for servers and software, and see if any of those promotions appeal to emotions concerning the life and work of your average IT slave or executive.  The utter lack of connection to buyer emotions fails to create unfair advantages via biasing.

It’s enough to make you cry.

The case study in “Selling Empathy” was about a company that sold software to make tech support pagers (remember those) go off whenever help desk or network monitoring utilities identified a problem requiring inhumane intervention. It was soulless software intended to awaken sleeping support personnel, which was a tough sell until we identified the uniting emotional driver between help desk staffs and tech support people: that they all had high stress jobs. Using a “peace of mind” branding base, we recast the product as a necessity that was designed so well it reduced job-related stress. We A/B tested advertising and discovered the emotion-based ad outscored the rational ad by 20%. All our campaigns quickly switched to the emotion-tugging branding.

Within a year the head of sales asked that we suspend promotions because his staff could not keep up with inbound calls (which, incidentally, had an 80% win rate).

If you are selling to multiple people or across multiple segments, seek common emotional drivers among key genotypes and shamelessly message/massage them. Side with positive emotions if available, but don’t shun creative ways of using negative ones. Bias your buyers by appealing to their feelings.


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