How to Appeal to Emotion in Your Marketing

To some extent, all marketing and advertising have a basis in psychology.

You need to understand how your audience thinks. What they’re looking for, what they’re interested, and what they want to see. How, where, and when they want you to reach out to them.

And perhaps most importantly, how to associate your brand with a particular set of emotions. In my experience, that last one is where a lot of marketers fall short. During this time of coronavirus, there are ways to ethically approach emotion in marketing. The mistakes one can make here fall into a few camps: 

  • Trying to elicit an emotion that’s not typically associated with your brand. If, for instance, your audience typically responds best to happiness and humor, attempting to appeal to anger and passion may not be a good call.
  • Taking it too far. In 2017, for instance, soft drink company Pepsi attempted to leverage Black Lives Matter to sell soft drinks. As reported by the New York Times, that went about as well as you’d expect.  
  • Ignoring emotion altogether, and focusing entirely on your product’s merits and value. 

Before we go any further, I’d like to note that business to business brands are an exception where the third point is concerned. 

Generally speaking, if you’re in the B2B space, the majority of your marketing should be based on reason rather than emotion. Emotional marketing still has its place, sure – but most of your audience will be looking to make objective, pragmatic decisions concerning your business and its competitors. Emotion doesn’t really play into that. 

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With that out of the way, let’s talk about the different types of, which according to an excellent guide published by Hubspot, can be divided into a few categories. 

  • Happiness. Positivity is infectious, and marketing is no exception. Whether entertaining, inspiring, or simply heartwarming, positive content inspires us to share with friends, family, and colleagues. 
  • Sadness. Empathy and altruism tend to be linked with sadness, which is a frequent tool leveraged by nonprofits. If you decide to go this route, be extremely careful. There’s a fine line between appealing to empathy and being seen as manipulative.
  • Surprise and fear. According to Hubspot, leveraging fear and anxiety in your marketing can help you position your brand as a light spot amidst a dark world. In light of recent events around COVID-19, I would strongly recommend against doing this. People have had enough negativity at this point.
  • Anger and passion. Anger is the driving force behind a lot of viral content. It’s also something you should avoid appealing to right now. Just look at the news – there’s a time and place for passion-driven marketing, and it’s not now. 

Beyond understanding your audience and their relationship with your products and services, the most important aspect of emotional marketing is to tell a story. Create a narrative that conveys the emotion you want your audience to feel. Support it with the right colors, sounds, and language.

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Pay attention to current events so you can avoid appearing unsympathetic or tone deaf. Think carefully about each stage of your campaign from beginning to end. From there, it’s simply a matter of letting your creativity shine and bringing everything together into a unified whole. 

Every good marketing professional strives to understand their audience. Why they think the way they think, why they feel the way they feel, and why they’re interested in a particular brand. Emotional marketing is simply a natural progression from that understanding.

Johnny Thompson

Johnny Thompson is a senior reporter for Generator Research in Los Angeles, reporting on technology, business, finances, and more. He previously worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

2 thoughts on “How to Appeal to Emotion in Your Marketing

  1. Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here.

  2. I like that you’ve studied the psychological element in marketing and how it can be elicited for good marketing. Thanks for taking up a recondite subject.

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