Emotion, Reason, and Marketing
Fast Company has a really interesting article on the role of reason vs. emotion in marketing. The argument? Market researchers have been getting it all wrong for years, by placing reason as the primary mode of thinking, rather than emotion:
The most startling truth is we don’t even think our way to logical solutions. We feel our way to reason. Emotions are the substrate, the base layer of neural circuitry underpinning even rational deliberation. Emotions don’t hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they’re made!
I like how this article, and the neuroscience it cites, focuses our attention on a paramount issue that sometimes gets lost in the noise of marketing: building a brand connection. Particularly in the cluttered digital environment, that primary relationship — an emotional one — is as critical to a brand’s success as the attributes of its latest product.
Social adds a unique element to building a brand connection, because, for the first time, it’s a two-way street. Brands can tell their stories, and engage with fans who want to tell theirs. This is connection — and at scale, it’s community. With emotion at the center of consumer behavior, these are powerful things indeed.
The article doesn’t ever refer specifically to social marketing, but if you want to build a strong brand connection in today’s world, it’s clear that social belongs at the heart. I’ll close with another quote from the article that makes the point better than I can (emphasis mine):
The left brain creates an intellectual understanding of “self” and a sense of separation from others. Our right brain creates a feeling of “we,” that wonderful sense of connection with one another and the ineffable awe of living in the moment—the essences of better lives and great brands.
Making and Keeping Promises
I read an interesting article on VentureBeat the other week designed to provide startups with advice about brand-building, but it’s well worth reminding even the biggest brands of this simple truth:
At the core of every great brand is a company’s ability to deliver on the prospect’s expectations — or better yet, exceed those expectations.
The heart of every brand is its ability to make and keep promises, and marketing is the part of the brand that makes the promises. The article goes on to note that “startups often bake a ‘desired position’ into the brand that strays too far from reality,” but even big brands do this. When there’s too big a gap between the brand position and reality, you get a broken promise.
One of the most interesting things about marketing today is that with the rise of social media and, more broadly speaking, communication networks (e.g. email), broken promises are no longer isolated to one disappointed customer and his/her immediate group. Instead, they are shared, by lots of voices. If promises are broken too badly, and too often, conversation about your brand can get loud and negative. And that can directly influence how other customers feel about you (just ask Papa John’s).
Don’t make promises you can’t keep.