The Emotionally Driven Consumer: Using Emotions to Drive Sales

Apple. Victoria’s Secret. Southwest Air. Nike. What do these companies have in common? An emotional connection with their consumers that drives sales and maintain customer loyalty. There are five steps to creating an emotional problem to lead consumers to the solution.

A problem is essential for people to become dissatisfied with their current state and desirous of moving toward your solution, a method often referred to as solution selling. While some people argue the death of solution selling, others like myself believe it exists with strong presence, but only for the studious marketers among us. 

Aquire the Proper Consumer

This is the first step for good reason. Without the proper consumer you will be lost from the get-go. A boutique lingerie brand who targets Victoria’s Secret consumers may have trouble because these particular consumers are already getting their emotional needs met via the world’s lingerie giant. Choose consumer prospects in a state of flux rather than prospects with a clear understanding of their needs and of who they are getting their needs met by. It is easier to convince a woman who purchases her lingerie from Target and TJ Maxx to buy from your boutique brand than it is to convince her neighbor who is an obsessed fan of Victoria’s Secret to buy from you.

Once you’ve acquired your consumer, begin to win them by building rapport and trust with them, all the while digging for the needs that they may have. 

Diagnose Your Consumer’s Needs

One of the arguments for the death of solution selling is that many customers are coming to companies with an already developed understanding of their problem and a well thought-out RFP (request for proposal) for a solution.  As a marketer you must learn to engage your consumers much earlier, well before they fully understand their own needs. In many ways, this is a strategy as old as sales itself: To win a deal, you have to be ahead of the RFP.

Harvard Business Review published a thorough article specifically for the B2B marketer or salesperson entitled The End of Solution Sales, which while apparently terminative is in fact only referring to the end of solution sales as practiced prominently throughout the past few decades. 

Identifying a consumer’s need entails determining the exact need your consumer has as it relates to your product's ability to solve the need. Often times, your consumer’s need may not be what they believe it to be, so your job is to help the customer identify their true need. This involves asking questions and doing research. Uncovered needs are not even recognized as being needs by customers, and within these untapped needs is an entire world of opportunity for you as a marketer.

Persuade Consumer of Needs

In order to make sells using emotions, you need to convince your consumer that they need something which, unless for your convincing, would not be seen as a need at all. On a side note, however, when tapping uncovered needs must be done with great tact. If you discover a need that exposing would jeopardize rapport you have built with the consumer, stop pursuing that "avenue of needs" and try to discover another unrealized need.

As with every stage in the sales process, the relationship you cultivate with the consumer through interaction and brand image will have a significant impact on how successfully you accomplish the process because all selling is built on developing relationships of trust. With an intimate understanding of what's important to your consumer, you are well positioned to lead the consumer through the steps and into the meeting of their needs.

A phenomenal example of customer relationship and sales would be the 13% annually growing Chick-fil-A empire, who not only anticipates the needs of their consumers, but also maintains incredible trust and rapport with them, making what Chick-fil-A calls “raving fans”. Think they’ve mastered the art of emotions in sales? Ask any of their fans and you’ll know right away.

Establish Value of Product

            •          Promise how your product or service will help the customer.

            •          State a fact that backs up that promise.

            •          For B2B marketers, communicate the commercial advantage or benefit to the buyer – a crucial step because if you don't explicitly state a benefit, the consumer will assume one; one which very well may be incorrect. To enhance your position you need to direct the consumer’s thinking so that they can envision how the solution relates to solving their business problem and satisfying their needs.

            •          For B2C marketers, emphasize personal value. Whereas the benefit in the previous step is crafted around how your product is of value to the business, for direct-to-consumer prospects, personal value speaks more to the person you're dealing with.

In hardly any other industry is value establishment (along with all of the steps of using emotions to drive sales) more clearly exemplified than in the $200B luxury goods industry, yes two-hundred billion dollar. While consumers pay little attention to the facts of a luxury item’s value, a company itself determines value by elevating the quality, status and emotional reward associated with the product. Consumers purchase these goods for a variety of reasons, but the most prominent is perceived value. I say perceived value not because your product doesn’t have authentic value, but because of equal importance to possessing actual value is your ability to communicate that you do to your market. Can the average consumer provide the facts for why BMW is synonymous with quality cars? No. But the average consumer believes so. Why? Because of the repeated messages BMW has been faithful to project regarding quality throughout decades of marketing campaigns. While BMW actually follows up this message with a quality product, its actual value has comparatively little influence on the consumer versus intentional marketing and the perception of value. If the value your company provides outweighs the discomfort involved with achieving it, they’ll pay any price to get there.

Meet the Emotional Need

In the luxury goods industry, people buy for the feelings of status, wealth and accomplishment. Interestingly enough, these emotions are so powerful that they influence people from poverty to wealth and in and out of financial crises, to purchase the products that repair their emotional needs. Athletes buy Nike for the feelings of achievement, exclusivity and professionalism. Women buy Victoria’s Secret for the feelings of sexiness, competence and empowerment. Men buy sports cars for the feelings of masculinity, relevance, and esteem. Consumers buy Apple products for the feelings of trendiness, belonging, and savviness. Southwest Air frequent fliers choose Southwest for the feelings of thriftiness, friendliness and freedom. 

It’s a heavy responsibility wielding such a powerful sword, yet one which marketers swing every day, effectively or ineffectively, for ethical or unethical reasons. The trick is understanding the tremendous influence emotions hold over the buying decisions of all humanity, and using them with wisdom to make empires out of worthy businesses and hopefully even, help a few consumers meet what we must admit are very human needs. 10twelve, a Chicago based agency, is here to help you reach your consumers. Contact us today!