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Managing Director at Exclusive PR Solutions, overseeing brand strategy and marketing.
Have you ever stopped and thought for a second about why you made a certain decision? Of course, you might think that you were driven purely by rationalism, but whether you realize and admit it or not, emotions play a big part in the choices you make — including what you decide to purchase.
People nowadays are exposed to as many as 5,000 ads per day. What are the chances that a particular one of them will be noticed and, more importantly, remembered?
I think marketers can learn a lot from a discipline called consumer neuroscience. Its goals are “better understanding the consumer, through their unconscious processes” and “explaining consumer preferences, motivations and expectations, predicting their behavior, and explaining successes or failures of advertising messages.” Consumer neuroscience enables us to evaluate how people unconsciously respond to ads, and understand how emotion affects memory.
The Power Of Emotions In Advertising
An analysis of data from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that “purely emotional content performed about twice as well” as purely rational content. Consider ads that make you happy. You may not realize it, but they call you to action. As a neurologist explains, “a smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones, including dopamine and serotonin.” And research has shown that dopamine motivates you to act. With ads, that often means making a purchase.
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It’s not just positive emotions that can influence a purchasing decision either. While our minds are busy focusing on a YouTube video and a colorful ad pops up on our screen, we may feel frustration, which you might logically assume is not likely to lead to a purchase. However, in some circumstances, negative emotions such as frustration can actually lead to sales, if you first trigger an emotional reaction and then provide a solution to it straight away. For example, if you want to promote a new shampoo that helps to get rid of dryness, first you demonstrate how frustrating dry hair can be, and then you showcase the product that can cure it, and voilà. This tactic is used a lot in the beauty industry.
Be careful, though. Too much negative emotion can turn off customers completely. The ice is especially thin when it comes to touching upon controversial social and cultural topics.
Tapping Into This Power
Composing an image or video to make an audience feel a particular emotion is the key to a successful campaign. The resonation, the “touch to the heart,” is what often makes a company and its product memorable. A combination of strong emotions, such as pride or love for someone, can help a brand go beyond highlighting the qualities of its product. It allows you to focus on human values. For example, brands such as Nike and Apple often focus on human achievements or memories in their ads. The integrated narratives with familiar characters and features (such as celebrities, well-known settings or situations) stand out to us, and they help us process the ads easier. Stories have long played a central role in human culture, and ads are forms of stories.
I’ve noticed that ads, in particular, most resonate with people when they show empathy. This emotion often evokes a desire to share content. That is what seems to have happened with Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign that celebrated natural beauty and pointed out the fact that many women and men are dealing with self-esteem issues.
Creativity also plays an important role in catching people’s attention. Be imaginative, and aim to stand out — people often want to see something they have never seen before. A surprise factor can trigger joy and keep the audience involved; it can take them on an emotional roller coaster ride around twists and turns and captivate them. Some things to consider are the volume of your ad, the tone of voice, the actions of the characters, the atmosphere, the background music and, of course, the storyline. How the ad is directed can play a major part as well.
Another factor worth considering is the color scheme. Colors trigger emotions and have certain meanings attached to them. According to the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, “studies show that changing the call-to-action button of an online ad from light green to yellow can increase conversion rates by 14.5%. A colored border around a Facebook ad image can also double the click-through rate. Color contrast helps too. Research has shown that contrasting colors of two links within a single image can increase the conversion rate by 60%.”
While disciplines like consumer neuroscience are giving marketers even more insight into human behavior, and constantly developing technologies allow us to operate more effectively than ever before, the key to success in advertising remains essentially the same to me. To inspire people to take action, strive to tap into their emotions.
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Author: Valentin Saitarli, Forbes Councils Member