Emotion, not logic will get your message across

Valuable Content associate and message master Jim O’Connor shows you how to get your message not just heard, but accepted:

“When marketing your business, are you pushing on a door marked pull? I’ve done it. Then looked around to check who is watching. Embarrassing, or what?

Sadly I see a lot of small and medium sized businesses making the same mistake. Not just once. But repeatedly. They put a ton of effort into getting to the door of the audience’s consciousness with pay-per-click, SEO, contact lists, database management, email templates, Twitter, tracking systems, and a host of other technological tools. Only to find it shut in their face.

Why? Because most people are sick of being bombarded with sales and marketing messages – they just want to be left in peace. Getting prospects to open up requires a totally different approach.

How many geeks does it take to change someone’s mind? None!

A hi-tech approach will get the message delivered. But you need a hi-touch one to get it accepted. Hi-touch is all about seeing things from the audience’s perspective – understanding their feelings and emotions, hopes and fears, then tapping into them. That’s how the big successful brands do it – watch their TV commercials.

Take UPS. You can’t get more logical than logistics, and yet they succeed in making it sexy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRAHa_Po0Kg

But what do most marketers do? They focus on themselves, listing as many features of their product and service as possible. They might throw in a few benefits, almost as an afterthought, but they tend to be logical (save time, save money, increase productivity, improved return on investment…).

All those benefits are in the UPS commercial (listen closely to the lyrics), but they are so skilfully wrapped up with positive emotions that it’s the heart which gets the message first. Here’s a hi-tech company that totally gets hi-touch!

Why the message must be hi-touch

People have incredibly short attention spans. If you don’t immediately focus on them, and plug straight into their heart, they hit the mental delete button.

People generally buy on emotion, then use logic to justify the decision they have just made. So the features, and the logical benefits can be in there – but you have to win their heart first. Look at the UPS commercial again. Note how the golden shield logo (logical benefit – protection) is repeatedly mirrored by golden hearts.

You are in a crowded marketplace. There’s little difference between what you and your competitors are offering. So listing features and benefits ensures you are not going to stand out – it’s marketing suicide! If you doubt this, read Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow”. Or read the precis at http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/67/purplecow.html

Do something different. Focus on what your prospect wants, show you understand how they feel, and then offer a solution (ideally expressed with a little wit and elegance). Immediately you leap out from the crowd. And suddenly the prospect likes you.

It’s not rocket science (precisely my point). It’s simple awareness of basic human nature. And it makes all the difference.

Stop pushing! You’re just annoying people.

But what do most businesses do? They get to a closed door, and push up against it with features and benefits. They knock, they shout, they push some more, desperately trying to stick logic in the audience’s face.

Then, eventually, they accept something is not working. But do they question the message, and the way it is being expressed? No. They stick with hi-tech and fiddle with the mechanics – let’s look at triggered email, let’s change the engagement metrics, let’s do more tracking via email analytics, let’s try Twitter, let’s get some more virtual phone apps…

They are missing the point. It’s the message! Give your messaging a thorough review.”

Thanks Jim. That’s a really important reminder to get the message straight before you start creating and sharing your content.

Jim O’Connor started his career as an advertising copywriter. His skills in pinpointing and expressing clear marketing messages are as pertinent today as they have ever been. You can find him at Stories That Sell: http://www.storiesthatsell.co.uk/.

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  1. Julian Summerhayes

    Seth would be proud. Keep up the great messaging. I do think though that marketing very often is a tax on a business for the mere fact that its product or service is unremarkable. Sure you have to earn attention but your fans should be doing more of the work.


  2. Sonja Jefferson

    That’s an interesting one Julian. There’s a great question too: “Is marketing a tax on a business whose product or service is unremarkable?” Open to the group.

    To be remarkable and earn the loyalty of a fan base you have to think through all the things that Jim (and Seth) believe in – focus on what your prospect wants, show you understand how they feel, and then offer a solution: be different and express yourself well.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Sonja

  3. Nick

    Hi, Jim.

    Many thanks for the post. It’s great advice and has certainly given me a lot to think about with regard to my message!

    Thanks again,


  4. Jane Vigus

    Spot on – as usual – Jim!


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