Successful Marketing Involves Placing Feelings Before Facts

Too often we try to appeal to people with facts, rather than what’s really important – how something makes a person feel. That’s the message I got a few weeks ago when listening to an interview with Reza Aslan, a religious scholar, bestselling author, and host of the new CNN show Believer.

While Aslan was specifically talking about matters of faith, it struck me that the same message can easily be applied to marketing. Marketers and public relations professionals too often make the mistake of promoting their products and services through lists of features designed to illustrate why they’re better than the competition. We’ve all seen press releases with bullet points that list out product differentiators, as if a company is saying, “here are the facts about our solution – see how much better they are compared to everyone else’s facts?”

I’m not discounting this, because I think that highlighting distinct features can be very effective – but it’s not the only thing that’s going to get customers jazzed about a particular solution. In fact, it may not even be the main thing.

Fueled by Emotion

Think about going to buy a car. Many of today’s new cars have certain standard features – satellite radios, backup cameras, etc. – that are not necessarily differentiators anymore. A person may not buy a car based on these features alone; instead, they may buy based on how the vehicle makes them feel. Or, they may buy based on the relationship they have with their salesperson. If driving the car makes them feel cool, and if they trust the salesperson, they’re more likely to sign on the dotted line. They’re also more likely to come back to purchase from that same dealership when it comes time to buy again.

This example of brand loyalty is fueled not by facts, but by emotion. It shows how connecting with customers through feelings, rather than facts, can be a more effective means of selling and building long-lasting customer relationships.

Understanding and Listening

A common refrain that we hear from clients is “vendors need to take the time to understand their customers.” This is something that’s true regardless of industry, especially with technology evolving so quickly. Our clients that work with the federal government, for example, often stress the need to take the time to work with agencies to customize their solutions to the specific needs and desires of their clients. Likewise, clients that sell to enterprises openly talk about working tirelessly to understand where their customers’ businesses need to go, and how they can help them get there.

The bulk of these conversations do not involve the vendor telling the customer about all of the neat features their product delivers. Instead, they involve vendors listening to customers and making their pitches based on what’s going to appeal most to those customers.

Appealing to the Person

Marketing promotions should reflect this approach by incorporating messages that appeal to customers on a personal level by addressing the true, underlying benefits of your products and services.

For example, your cloud-based solution may include features that promote better collaboration and efficiency, but what it really does is help people do their work more effectively. Doing work more effectively makes them look like rock stars. Making them look like rock stars helps them gain the respect of their managers and colleagues. Gaining respect leads to career advancement and more opportunities.

This strategy helps you get to the core of what you really want to communicate. Instead of focusing on a litany of key features in a press release, you can talk about the primary benefits that will help drive customer interest. There are a number of ways to accomplish this goal, including:

Customer quotes or mini case studies, which can be effective in showing prospects how a particular solution helped another individual who may have been in a similar situation.

Corporate spokesperson quotes also offer a good opportunity to speak directly to customers in an unfiltered manner; you should certainly use them to issue an emotional appeal about why your product is a must-buy.

Guest articles written for industry trade publications can be highly effective as well – especially ones that use personal examples or experiences to show an understanding of customer needs and display your own point of view.

Knowing what to say goes back to listening – in this case, to your sales team. They’re the ones out there speaking with customers on a daily basis — and they can tell you which messages are resonating with their contacts. They can give you some real-world perspective that can be invaluable for the effectiveness of your marketing and PR programs.

Of course, in the event that you get to talk to customers directly, be sure to take the time to ask them about what makes them really want to purchase your company’s products. Dig deep, too. Ask them about how the solutions help them in their daily lives. Talk about the relationship they have with your brand and why it’s important to them. I’m willing to bet it goes well beyond just the facts.