Digital Insights

Build a More Profitable Brand by Marketing to Your Customer’s Emotions


Published: January 21, 2015

There’s a tried and true adage from the advertising community that advises marketers to “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Sounds corny but it’s true. The majority of consumers don’t buy based on a rational evaluation of product features and benefits or even on the basis of the lowest price – they buy because of how a product makes them feel. Sure, customer benefits are important and might be what captures their attention in the first place, but the right appeal to their emotions is what really sells them.

While there’s nothing wrong with telling prospective customers about your product benefits, it’s usually not enough to clinch the deal. For one thing, it doesn’t help differentiate your brand from your competitors. Pick any industry or niche at random and you’ll find practically every company trying to sell based on an identical list of benefits. “Lowest prices in town,” “Open nights and weekends for your shopping convenience,” “Serving only the finest USDA Prime cuts of beef,” and on and on. If you’re reading from the exact same script as your competitors, you’re going to have a tough time closing sales.

What’s more, focusing solely on product benefits does nothing to help you bond emotionally with prospective customers.

  • Emotional benefits are what makes your company special, and help transform your company into a brand that customers are familiar with, have developed a sense of trust for, and have come to rely upon.
  • To build a strong brand that differentiates you from the competition, you need to offer consumers an emotional benefit.
  • Building a brand with emotional marketing is critically important because consumers have relationships with brands, not with products.

Exactly What is an Emotional Benefit?
An emotional benefit can be anything that satisfies emotional needs and wants. Feeling safer, feeling more comfortable, providing for the family, fitting in with crowd – these are all emotional benefits. How you make your customers feel shapes their opinion of your brand, and impacts their buying decision.

My Mother’s Restaurant has been serving and satisfying hungry Phoenix residents for many years with an emotional appeal that evokes fond memories of “Mom” that everyone can relate to. Those are pretty powerful emotional images at work and they help keep the restaurant packed with customers all day long. Could My Mother’s have seen the same level of success with an “only the finest USDA cuts of beef” advertising approach? Probably not.

Does Emotional Marketing Really Work?
It’s a fact – consumers usually don’t buy purely for rational reasons. They want and expect to be emotionally engaged with the brand they choose, and their loyalty to that brand is in direct proportion to the degree of emotional attachment they feel.

Research has shown that emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend their favorite brands to friends and family, and three times more likely to make repeat purchases. What’s more, they’re much less likely to shop around – typically 33 percent would need to save at least 20 percent before they would consider abandoning their brand.

How to Emotionally Engage Your Customers
Move customer care to the front of the line. If necessary, revamp your procedures and systems to emphasize customer satisfaction over everything else, and make sure your employees are on board with it. Listen and respond to customer needs and concerns. The ability to listen deeply and empathize with your customers is a learned skill, but one that will pay big dividends.

Your employees who have direct contact with your customers are a valuable source of information about what your customers are thinking. Take advantage of their position to gain an insight into what your customers need and expect from your company.