Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Social Brand Forum in Iowa City, IA. It was a great event, with all top-notch speakers — so you can imagine that I was wondering why they invited me to join the roster.
One of the stories told by Tom Webster, VP of Marketing for Edison Research, was about Patient Elliott, a brain cancer survivor whose frontal lobe had to be removed with surgery, leaving his intellect in tact, but completely destroying the center of emotion processing in his brain. As a result, he was unable to make any decisions and his life fell apart.
In his book How We Decide, author Jonah Lehrer noted: “Emotion and motivation share the same Latin root, movere, which means to move. The world is full of things and it is our feelings that help us choose among them.”
It’s our job as marketers to connect with the emotions of consumers.
They couldn’t care less about a list of features; they want to be made to feel something. Make their heart race, make them excited to be first to know, make them proud to be featured in your content —whatever it is, appeal to their emotional selves, not their rational selves.
Let’s use consumer packaged goods as an example. We’ve gotten so far away from where we were just a generation ago that emotional appeal is nearly impossible. Think about brand extensions. How many kinds of orange juice are there? Remember when it was Tropicana or Minute Maid, and that was it? Forget about no pulp / some pulp / all pulp / country style / calcium added / low acid / low sugar. Or toothpaste? Back in the day it was Crest, AIM, Colgate or Aquafresh, and you had one or two flavors to choose from in each brand. Now there are about 50 different iterations. And don’t even get me started on Oreos or yogurt.
The point is, in marketers’ rush to serve absolutely every niche audience and psychographic, they’re making it harder for people to choose. Yes, there are more choices — but that’s the issue: there are more choices. More choices than ever.
We’re all being turned into Patient Elliott because we’re being forced to become emotionally detached from brands. We end up suffering from the inability to choose because of a surplus of content and products. It’s up to us to simplify things and take the time to reconnect with hearts rather than minds.
Yes, the simpler times were more emotionally fulfilling. And sometimes, when you’re just trying to find a 32 oz. container of plain yogurt, the clutter just gets in the way.