Sunday, May 18, 2008

Some notes on "Emotional Marketing"

Actually, all marketing is emotional. Period. That's how (and the only way) you are reaching your customers.

This is because the majority of this planet's inhabitants (at least the human-kind ones) do not control their mental processes and let their "subconscious" (for lack of a better term) run their lives. The Subconscious is directly connect to the emotions. And any salesperson worth their salt knows that you appeal to the emotions first, get the sale, and then that action is justified to the Analytical in all of us.

And that applies to some 97% of us (more or less). The good news is that reciprocal of this is that percentage which will buy just about anything - they are on automatic emotion - just about 3-5%. This tells you why spam works. You can fool part of the people all the time.

The term "Emotional Marketing" is just another ploy to show how smart someone is - and get sales of their books and services. What I've read from people using this term is that they really don't know the whole background to this subject, but have hit on something which is popular and are milking it for all they can get. They really tell nothing new in what they say and pretty much repeat what has been found out by others.

(Read the "old" texts like "Scientific Advertising" and Collier's letters to see how this is done - as well as Joe Vitale and the crowd he hangs with. Anything with a Vitale testimonial is basically pretty good stuff, from what I've seen...)

Now, lets tear apart how people think and how it applies to marketing.

This started in realizing that the bulk of what I had been following was leading me down an uncertain path. Modern SEO types have been going down the "social media" path, which gives you mainly poor traffic, since it is so flighty. A recent reference to Cutts on blogging says that blogs don't bring quality (read: buyer) traffic, since the people who follow blogs are only interested in the current data. They go two or three posts deep and then leave.

There have been other comments on social media about those points as well. Not "serious" traffic. Comes and leaves quickly - OK for "traffic" but not for subscribers (while I guess you would get about 3-5%...)

That's why I've gone into eBay research. A community full of buyers, or at least shoppers - not just viewers (aka "lookie-loo's"). If you're trying to make money, you want buyers coming to your store. Period. Even a booth at a festival or trade show is there not just to give away stuff, but to get leads - you're always and consistently looking for leads you can turn into sales, and then continue to sell that client.

How does emotion fit into that?

Well, we pretty much think FROM our emotions, even though we repress the hell out of ourselves all the time in this category. Repress? Well, yes. You see, if you don't control something by understanding it and training with it, pretty much the common tool to use is brute force. I didn't say it was right or best or anything, just that most of us simply try to push our emotions down all the time, instead of working to understand why we are having that particular emotion at that particular time.

And, since we do that (I'll spare you the metaphysical reasons and scientific studies that prove it for now) pretty much all the time, someone (nearly anyone who knows one or two tools) can come around and "trigger" any particular response they want. Because these powerful emotions are just sitting there, primed and ready...

Here's where most of the sales gimmicks come in, and also explains why a formulaic sales page tends to work much better than just 3-5%. If people were basically analytical, then they'd start seeing the patterns and become immune to them. (Which has happened with most commercials - one phrase, "the louder they are, the stupider they think you are" explains more than you think and they know.) So when you see "limited time offer" and "P.S. Satisfaction Guaranteed", you are looking at working gimmicks.

OK, why do these marketing gimmicks work, then?

Short answer, repeated from above: There is the conscious and the subconscious - and basically, the subconscious is more powerful in most people, because we aren't trained to deal with it. The subconscious thinks in terms of emotions, while the conscious is far more (but not completely) logical and analytical. If the subconscious is in control, then any emotional appeal will ultimately win out.

With me so far?

Now, I've earlier gone over Maslow and Cialdini. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (or Pyramid) states and defines what the actual needs and wants of humankind are. Cialdini approaches this from hard look at what persuades people - and defines the key emotional arguments which tend to work nearly every single time.

Where these cross is: People think emotionally pretty much all the way up Maslow's pyramid - right up to the tip - almost. When people have all their actual physical needs taken care of, then they start looking at Why they are acting the way they do. Which explains why most of our philosophical progress has been done by the rich and retired (or those on secure government pensions in universities) they no longer have to work for a living to have everything they need provided. And so they can sit and think.

Now "thinking" has earned some derision because most people think from their emotions. And the sum of this is often circular thought, due to all the various feedback loops which exist in the emotional habits we carry around. These various mental habits are as myriad as we have people on this planet, since no two are the same.

Example might be: a person fears women, loves the color red, adores fresh brownies, but hates anything thats dark and wet. So a female cook giving him brownies hot out of the oven, with red M&M's on top - but still doughy in the middle - that person doesn't know what to thing of what's being handed over. Trust her, no - but are those brownies laced with something good or bad? This just stirs around and around.

If the fear wins out, our subject might refuse the brownies - but wanting to be polite, might taste them. And then put them on the side of their plate, saying they were too full from the meal to enjoy them fully - and looking at that gooey center suspiciously. There's nothing wrong with the brownies or the cook, but the emotional thinking involved casts a shadow over everything - because that dessert was dark, wet, and served by a female.

It's called "being irrational," but when we look at most of what goes for "rational" thought in our modern society, we find that label really strained.

For instance, given a complete layout of how government operates best, how economics works, the success and failure of various government programs - you'd think we could have more consensus in this country. Why does there continue to be this constant (news-driven) controversy between the two major (and several minor) political parties?

For instance, Dems have recently gotten elected several candidates who "stole a page from the Republican play book" - meaning those who favored gun rights, lower taxes, and fiscal responsibility. Now, I could see that people would logically favor more and better government where you live in cities and depend on central control of power, water, sewage, garbage collection, and other services.

In suburban and rural areas, things are more independent and people tend to want their own choice about things. People in cities might want to give up a larger chunk of their income in return for a more efficient system, particularly to handle crime. In the country, perhaps you recycle your own waste with a compactor and can burn the rest or take it to the dump once a month far more cheaply. You get your water from a well and like to hunt in season. While you certainly don't mind paying for roads, you want to see how they are spending what you give them.

The differences are that in the metropolitan areas, people tend to want systems maintained which deal with the larger numbers of people in smaller areas. In rural areas, people are more independent and are used to figuring things out for themselves.

In both cases, they tend to elect people just like them and so preserve their quality of life. "Tax and spend" Democrats vs. "Less taxes, less government" Republicans. (Of course this changed in the last few years, as we had both sides spending money without seeming restraint - the only difference was that one side increased revenue by lowering taxes, obviously not enough.)

And you can tell I live in a rural area...

Now, back to emotional thinking.

You'd think that any party, in order to get a majority, would have to reflect the wishes of its electorate. And the Democratic party has a unity problem right now, just as the Republicans did. There were "liberal" Republicans elected and in the fold, as the "Blue-Dog" (conservative) Democrats have recently been elected into Congress. Liberal ideas of more government (which requires more taxes to pay for more social programs) conflicts with ideas of less government and so less taxes required and people can make up their own mind about what to do with what they earn.

If you disagree with me above, you can check your own feelings out as you read the above. See if you can take a completely "analytical" approach to anything regarding these four subjects: Death, Taxes, Politics, Religion. Most people are afraid of Death and hate Taxes. Few people can agree on Politics and will argue (or have snide comments in private) with anyone in opposition. Religion has been historically and modernly the cause of more wars than any other "cause". (And the first point where people first discovered it was a small, interconnected world, was when you saw during World War II that God was on both sides at once - or at least each side thought so...)

Our use of this in Marketing is very simple: appeal to people's emotions and then they will figure out how it "makes logical sense" to them. That's why you push benefits instead of features. People want to know how your product will make them feel good, not anything else.

Price is emotional.

People will pay what they think it's worth to them. Meaning: how will it make them feel. If they get something cheap, they know it's cheap. If you sell an exclusive seminar with a top-notch guru who will help them get financial security or independence - or help them find their "mojo" or keep their health longer, etc. All the italicized words are emotional in context.

I could go on and on with examples. They are simply too easy to find.

But there's a secret to this - and it's been known for ages...

OK, now outside of a few self help authors, most people don't want you to find out that you can think for yourself and bring your emotions under your own control. One reason is to control you, but probably more that they don't want their own emotional world rattled. People expect people to act like them. Meaning, repress your emotions and try to act "sane" like the rest of us.

Nope. Doesn't work that way. Those few who do actually figure out how to work with their emotions instead of for their emotions are the ones who actually control the vast majority (several authors have this as high as 97%) of the world's wealth. Now, before you go off onto some emotional rant about how this is obviously a great and hidden conspiracy, let me tell you that the secrets of how to work with your emotions and how to develop and control wealth have been written up over and over and over, by author after author after author - all through our history and through probably all the religions on this planet (probably, only because I haven't had time yet to study them all, nor has anyone else).

The Bible tells you how to do this in both the Old and New Testaments. Older than that, these "secrets" were printed in the Vedas and told in oral tradition for thousands of years before that. Our oldest philosophical legacy - Huna - is very exact in what has finally been published about this ancient belief-system.

Modernly, it's been published through "The Secret" DVD and earlier, by Earl Nightingale and his "Strangest Secret." Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Stephen Covey, all these authors have studied, written, and published time and again about how to get this data and get a grip on your own emotional world - and become a roaring success in everything you do.

There is a caveat here - and probably the kicker to the whole subject: you can't exploit this data, even if you figure it all out. Because the universe is set up with one very exact rule of reciprocity. It's called the Golden Rule, but it's also known as the Law of Attraction, among other things. Simply - if you try to cheat someone else, to profit at their expense, YOU are the one who is going to wind up cheated and have an expensive lesson.

How are all these people, these few, getting insanely rich? By helping others to improve their lives, by giving a great service or product and requiring that people pay what they feel it's worth. They are constantly working to improve the world's condition - and are paid very highly to do so. Those people who know this secret and aren't rich are living very nice, quiet, peaceful lives and have everything they want - but this is by their own choice.

More marketing notes - how to use this emotional stuff...

Back to marketing - lets go over some of the rest of these notes I worked out during my day job session this weekend:

  • All demand (all needs and wants) are predicted by Maslow's Pyramid.
  • People associate objects with their feelings. This is all there is to "positioning" and "association" and "hot buttons."
  • Marketing is simply finding what objects people want (and buy), then supplying that demand.
  • Emotions are "hard-wired" through social training, partially stemming from genetics, but more due to family, schools, and pop culture pressures throughout our lives.
  • Any emotional training you have had, any mental habit, can be undone and retrained.
  • Emotions are a limited band, however, which don't apply to the pinnacle of Maslow's Pyramid - you simply have "out-grown" them up there.
  • Drugs bring back the physical response that emotions cause on the body - and so act in reverse; addicts are those who can't control or repress their emotions enough to live responsible lives.
Now for some practical applications -

In keyword research, look for emotions and objects represented as emotions. Do theme research for keywords used in the text surrounding top-selling items to see what emotions are being called for in the sales copy. HammerTap for eBay is a great tool to discover these words - since you have a very defined approach to what is actually selling out there, what their keywords are and what these are selling for.

Avoid getting traffic for traffic's sake. You have to get an exchange for your bandwidth. Attract buyers, not viewers. Minimally, you want shoppers - who can be converted to buyers and then to lifelong clients. Social media (including blogs) is what started this off. Most of the social media are utterly devoted to servicing peoples' feelings and sensations. This is why they are poor shoppers and worse buyers. These viewers are simply there for the moment.

When Google and other search engines are following social media so closely - they are simply following the money. Advertisers (another addiction) buy so that people will visit their site - and all advertising is based on emotional content. Google is in search of great content - which translates to INFOTAINMENT.

Not so bad, since our recording and movie (and most of the publishing) industries are devoted to satiating people and their emotional "requirements." This is a prime way to capitalize on this problem - give people easier ways to get their emotional lifts. Make them feel safer, better, healthier, more popular, etc. (Like in the cars and trucks we buy. Wouldn't you like electric windows with that CD changer?)

This predicts/explains why information products are such a hit. Instant downloads are perfect, particularly where they are video or audio products. Of course you have to charge for this - but hey, they're valuable aren't they? (eBay currently has the problem of outlawing digital downloads, only because spammers were cutting into their profit margins and diluting their product base. But other solutions are being found...)

Of course your product has to actually help people (or minimally, do no harm...).

Rapid Summary

  1. For the vast majority of us, your emotions play no small part in how you think and what you buy. Your reactions practically govern your life. Something advertising has played off for years - ineffectually at best.
  2. While you can find authors who will tell you exactly how to get control over your emotional scene, you can still get your marketing accomplished if you know to utilize emotions in your sales copy.
  3. And if you want to make fist-loads of money, you'll be looking for products which are emotionally popular as well as high demand/low supply.
  4. But your biggest resource will be in finding products which help people to move out from under the cloud of their emotions and start to live life under their own control.

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