Emotional Marketing Drives Sales

This morning I received an email from a vendor that read, “Dear Friend! Our prices are going up. Take advantage of our current prices now before the price increase!” The email explained that the vendor’s costs of raw materials have been consistently increasing over the previous three years, and he is now forced to increase his prices to his clients. It seems that either the vendor is trying to generate an increase in sales, or they have completely thrown out all logic. The sad part is that this particular vendor is actually insulting the intelligence of those to whom they are marketing their products.

He is blaming the increase on his rising costs, but over the previous three years, he has been losing money and saw no need to increase prices. Logic provides that the vendor would have increased his prices incrementally over the past three years to avoid losing money on his sales. And, he seems to believe that you – the client – should somehow feel sorry for the losses that he brought upon himself. And even sadder is that there will be many who will feel sorry for the vendor and buy his products (perhaps, if they need them) to help him out of his dilemma. Would you have fallen for his story and made a purchase based on his excuses? Or, would you have seen through his thin veil of manipulation?


Most people know that emotions are what drives purchasing behaviors, and decision-making in general. However, marketing must be very careful how they attempt to manipulate their potential purchaser’s emotions.

According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, in his book, “How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market,” the professor reveals that consumers aren’t as savvy as they (or we) might believe. Consumers often state that they compare brands and prices, however Zaltman’s research indicates that this is not the case.

When studying a consumer’s unconscious physical reactions, Zaltman found that what they think or feel often contradicts what they say. A big reason that consumers are not exceedingly genuine about their purchasing thoughts and feelings are unconscious emotional urges.

Zalman’s work in this area came from previous studies completed by neuroscientists that found that people suffering from brain damage in the emotional area often have trouble making decisions.

Understanding that human behavior is not as logical has significant implications for branding, marketing and sales.

Drive the Subconscious

As an example, marketing a product strictly on its attributes will likely lead to poor results in terms of sales. However, if you use words that drive the subconscious, human element sales will increase.

Humans are driven by their feelings, and you want the consumer to feel engaged and impassioned by your marketing efforts. This concept of emotion-based marketing is widely used.

First Appearances

We all know that first appearances sell and why curb appeal is so important in real estate. That and the smell of fresh-baked cookies upon entering the house is that second biggest emotional push toward a sale. Likewise, car dealers know that when consumers are looking at purchasing a new car, they expect that they will be the first owner, and that “new car smell” provides that emotional push. This is why there is a spray that regenerates that smell after a car has sat for a while.


Emotions that target feelings of self-worth, acceptance, and status are great emotional pushes. The more luxurious marketing makes the product sound, the higher the number of sales and often at an inflated price.

Social media gains millions of users based on the single emotion of connecting with others who share your beliefs. Athletic brands offer nothing more than their ties to celebrities and teams through endorsements, for which they pay millions. Think about how many products are marketing campaigns are tied to love, relationships, and desire.

Great Marketing

Obviously, great marketing focuses on the features of the product, but without those emotional triggers of the lifestyle and feelings that the purchase brings, sales would be dismal in comparison. The key to good marketing is to trigger the emotional response to the desires and needs of the consumer, and not to the seller’s benefits.

To accomplish this goal is simply nothing more than targeting as many senses as possible through your branding, marketing, and sales. This includes everything from the color and shapes of your logo, product packaging, and advertising placement.

Remember that humans are driven by subconscious behavior based on their desires and needs. You should do everything in your power to help consumers achieve their desired states of emotion. Consider how your marketing makes the consumer feel.

Concentrate on Them, Not You

The email that played on pity for the vendor at the head of this article, was a very poor marketing effort. It highlighted the vendor and not the consumer. Pity was the only emotional trigger, and that added nothing of value to the consumer.

Design your product and services marketing efforts to satisfy the customer’s desires or wants – those very things that contain an emotional component, and you will do well.

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