“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We’ve all seen those TV ads showing a starving child looking wretchedly into the camera while flies buzz around their face. We’ve all felt the sick churn of discomfort as the voiceover tells us about the child’s slow, painful death sentence. And we’ve all experienced the subsequent guilt of not doing more to help.
Start with the heart
Those ads elicit such a powerful response for a reason. They don’t focus on data, facts and figures: they focus on real human stories. By doing so, they appeal to the heart rather than the head. To see what that looks like, let’s take a quick test.
1 or 2?
Read the following paragraphs and see which one you find the most persuasive.
1) Poverty and food shortages in Mali are affecting 4.8 million families. Due to severe rainfall deficits, maize production has dropped by 56% in the past 12 months. In consequence, the death rate for children under the age of 10 has increased by 12%, with a total of 76,000 deaths per annum. Donate to help fund sustainable food banks.
2) Any money you donate will go to Abebe, a 5 year old girl who lives in Mali. Abebe has never known what it feels like to be full, healthy or perfectly comfortable. She lives her life in a constant state of severe hunger and malnutrition, and day by day her body weakens and her strength deteriorates. Your donation could help change that. Feed Abebe and give her a chance at life.
If you’re like the majority of people, the second paragraph hit you the hardest. Statistics aren’t personal. They’re just numbers, and they don’t convey real human suffering or tug at heart strings.
A little girl, on the other hand, is all too real. Little Abebe is an identifiable victim, and her plight can be pictured. We empathise with Abebe, and that emotion drives action.
The numb consumer
Brand fatigue is a by-product of our increasingly consumer-driven world. Everywhere you turn, there’s an advert. It doesn’t matter if you’re stepping on a bus, playing a smartphone game or watching a music video – you’re constantly hammered by product pitches. This is an age saturated with sales, and unfortunately life doesn’t come with an automatic “Adblock” extension.
The result is a numb audience. We’ve started to developed hard-core advertising infiltration systems, making us increasingly immune to marketing spiels. Ignoring adverts has become a necessity – if we were to empty our pockets for every ad we saw we’d all be bankrupt.
So, marketers are having to up their game. Just as online hackers are constantly developing new ways to break through increasingly strong security protocols, the brands of today are developing new ways to hack into consumer mind-sets.
Rational adverts aren’t cutting it
We’re already awash with facts, figures and statistics. We’ve seen and heard all the brand promises before. We’re bored of them, and to some extent we’re cynical. To snap us out of our brand fatigue, it takes an emotional reaction.
So, let’s try another test.
1) At Holiday Park, we’re at least £28 a day cheaper than our competitors – saving you over £200 for a week’s stay! In fact, 97% of our customers say we’re great value. We’ve got best in class facilities, at best in industry prices. Take your pick from over 50 family activities and 300 luxury cabins: you’re spoilt for choice! Try us and join the 120,000 people who holiday here every year.
2) There’s a first time for everything. The first time Mum tries rock climbing and proves to be quite the secret monkey. The first time the kids (legitimately) beat Dad at crazy golf. The first time Aunty Pauline dons a wetsuit and sets foot in a kayak. The first time the whole family goes aerial tree trekking. Come and experience your family ‘firsts’ at Holiday Park – the place where memories are born.
As you’ll see from the above, the dry stats don’t sell. We’re largely immune to them. As before, it’s the story that sells, and the story that breaks through our brand fatigue.
Logic….slide to the left
Would you be surprised to know that Pepsi trumps Coca-Cola when it comes to blind taste tests? When we don’t know what we’re drinking, the majority of us prefer Pepsi. Unblindfolded and free to choose, however, most of us will still pick Coke.
And that’s because Coca-Cola has done a truly exceptional job of equating its brand to happiness. Everyone reading this will be able to pull up a memory of a Coke advert in a second. Could you say the same for Pepsi?
Coke is the brand that wants to teach the world to sing. It’s the brand that has your name on its bottle. It’s the brand that officially lets us know Christmas is here with its annual Santa adverts. When it comes to emotional content marketing, Coca-Cola is king.
We don’t buy products
Well, not really. We buy the emotional experiences that come with the products. As the Coca-Cola example goes to show, we put our money where our heart is.
What do you think really sells anti-wrinkle cream? It’s not the ingredients: it’s the confidence it instills. We’re parting with our money for the emotion that the product inspires – and those emotions don’t always have to be positive.
For example, fear and shame both sell. It’s not really the fragrance that sells antiperspirants: it’s the fear of smelling badly around our peers. It’s not the taste that sells free-range eggs: it’s the shame of buying the eggs of caged, suffering hens. We spend where our emotional reactions point us. Clever brands know this, and they evoke the power of emotions in their marketing.
Give an emotion injection
Take a look at your marketing content and product advertising. If it doesn’t stir emotions, it’s not going to sell as much as it could. Now, that’s not to say that’s you shouldn’t include any statistics or specifications: of course you can. But don’t forget to engage your customers and appeal to their emotions. Or, in the words of Leo Burnett, “Don’t tell me how good you make it; tell me how good it makes me when I use it.”
Want more sales? Emotionally engage your audience. If you succeed, they’ll remember you when the time comes to buy.