Are you getting a good balance between rational marketing and emotional marketing?
To give an illustration, which invite sounds more attractive?
- “We’re having a party tonight and we’d love to have you along. There are loads of great of people I’d like you to meet, and my mates would like to meet you too. It’ll be a night to remember. Do you want to join in?”
- “You are cordially invited to our house for drinks and nibbles, loud music and dancing tonight. We have 18 guests confirmed. Please bring a bottle, from 8:30pm. RSVP”.
The first is a personal invitation into the group, and to what sounds like a more lively and vibrant event. It also helps you to picture yourself meeting great people, and projects your thoughts beyond the event.
The second is more formal, impersonal and distant. It describes the components of the party and focuses on getting you to the front door on time. I know where I’d rather spend my evening.
Which does your marketing and sales resemble most? To what extent does it focus on the purchase transaction, or does it focus on the experience of ownership?
Have you built emotional marketing into your value proposition?
When people are very close to what they do there is a tendency to define what is offered in terms of features, advantages and occasionally benefits. However this is rarely a compelling or high value, differentiated proposition.
Some market leaders are now selling ‘the customer experience’, and working backwards to deliver and enhance it. This is a much more powerful, emotionally engaging proposition. It is simpler to receive and remember, and more desirable. It is more difficult for competitors to compete against, or to refute.
I’ve heard it said that people decide with their heart and justify with their head. Does your marketing and selling speak to the heart and the head or your prospects?
Create a Customer Experience Value Proposition
The customer experience value proposition is along the lines of: “Welcome to the owners club, the user group. This is how other ‘members’ feel. Here are examples of other people or companies who have ‘joined’ already. These are the positive differences they’ve experienced in their business, professional or personal lives as a result. Join in.”
There are some significant benefits in projecting the customer experience, not just the service or products.
- It projects the buyer mind beyond the purchase:sales transaction, and de-focuses the transaction
- It goes beyond the vendor:buyer relationship and reduces the confrontational, adversarial situation
- It becomes more like ‘joining a community’ rather than ‘purchasing a product’
- It builds loyalty and a sense of partnership, which may pave the way for innovation
- It creates an environment for up-sell opportunities
- It is a great platform for advocacy and referrals
However, it does depend on the customer service department signing up to the approach, and feeding back into marketing and sales.
Tips to develop an emotional marketing message
Consumer Marketing has, in many ways, always played to emotions, to hopes and fears, dreams and anxieties.
Business to business, industrial and technology marketing does tend towards the rational, logical area though.
Finding the emotional drivers of the prospect are powerful levers throughout the marketing, selling and delivery process. It is in this area that expectations are uncovered, managed, and satisfied, through the problem solving nature of the solution team.
Companies like IBM (where I worked many years ago) and other technology companies have been very successful through emotional engagement.
A powerful emotional marketing technique is to use stories.
Stories – a powerful vehicle for emotional marketing
Many years ago, when I was a junior sales rep at IBM, part of the sales training involved the use of stories.
The trainer, a very experienced sales consultant, had a simple formula for the key elements of the story.
- How the person felt before – their fears and concerns, not just the rational business challenges. This provides a platform to find out the prospects fears, to give them permission to open up and reveal their emotions, which may later arise as objections, but can be tackled early on.
- What the customer found – describes the key elements of the impact of the solution on their business. Because this is portrayed as a third party experience it is more credible. It is a great way to reduce the perceived risk and uncertainty for the prospect, and positions the salesperson as the helpful messenger.
- How the customer feels now – this is the opportunity for the positive messages to come through from the heart not just the head. And if it’s a case study or video it is an opportunity for the happy customer to elevate their position, put aside any remorse, and get fully behind the solution and the provider.
Tips to develop and use compelling customer stories
Some people are natural story tellers, while others find it helpful to have a model to follow, such as this one.
- When researching the story, it does take trust, good questioning and a keen ear to tease out these powerful messages from your customers.
- The story doesn’t need to get into the nuts and bolts of the details, in fact less detail is better.
- The Felt, Found, Feel elements above make stories relatively easy to remember and to replay.
- If there are many customer stories, an index, database or memory jogger system is very useful, especially in a team situation.
- Stories can be re-purposed, for example, one client situation could be used for engagement on the landing page, as part of the lead nurture process and as part of the sales closing armory.
- When using stories to draw out emotions from your prospect, it takes trust and sensitive questioning, as it will make them feel vulnerable.
How many customer stories do you have? Would they benefit from a make-over to emphasise the emotional aspects, not just the rational side? And do you have contacts and a plan to create more stories, case studies, testimonials and similar?
Social Media and Customer Stories
The rise of Social Media creates great opportunities for satisfied and delighted customers to easily share their experience with their contacts and the wider market. However, negative experiences and stories can also be shared easily. It’s worth taking the initiative early to capture, share and develop your positive customer community of advocates for you, your products and services, your company and for the customer experience. Theses will be valuable as part of overcoming any negative issues.
If you’ve got a good customer story, or used one and got a great sales result, do share it on the comments below.