As a consumer, you're probably more likely to buy something when you have an emotional tie to the product or service, I'm willing to bet.
So, entrepreneurs would be wise to ensure that their marketing strategy creates emotional bonds with their target market.
As Roger Dooley said in his Neuromarketing blog, "Campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well" when compared with those with only rational content (summing up a finding of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in Hamish Pringle and Peter Field's Brand Immortality).
As a teen playing club sports, I wore uniforms made by Adidas. I connected the good times of playing and winning tournaments with my jersey's logo.
Today as an adult, I like to think that I make rational decisions, but in truth many of my preferences are in part based on my emotions: So it's no surprise that the Adidas name appears on my shorts, shirts and socks (and many of my current soccer heroes also wear this brand).
Earlier this month my KCAA Money Talk radio show welcomed as a guest Ian Tenenbaum, the CEO of subscription-box provider Paw Pack, which delivers monthly care packages such as pet treats and chewable toys.
"There’s nothing an animal lover loves more than their dog or cat going nuts over some new toy or treat," Tenenbaum said, highlighting the role that emotions play in pet owners' purchasing decisions.
Money Talk co-host Aaron M. Sanchez suggested that the emotional tie-in plays a role and not just in the initial purchase. After all, it's easier to cancel a subscription when there's no emotional attachment, he said.
Too often entrepreneurs focus on ways to win a share of consumers' wallets but should attend to winning over their hearts, minds and emotions. In my workshops, I advise small business owners to find ways to make it difficult for customers to leave them by creating an emotional bond.
The following are three tips to do so and improve customer retention and sales:
1. Make the customer a priority.
I still remember the phrase on my paycheck from my pizza-shop employer when I was in my teens: "This check is made possible by our customers."
So I am astounded when business owners treat customers poorly and then complain about lackluster sales. In today’s competitive environment, anyone who thinks a business is about himself (or herself) and not the customer is best served by shutting it as quickly as possible.
Entrepreneurs must determine their customers' pain points and address them.
For example, the owner of coffee shop Java Man in Hermosa Beach, Calif., has realized many patrons visit while walking their dogs. To create an emotional bond, the owner provides fresh water in bowls, thereby making coffee customers extremely happy that someone cared enough to also give their thirsty dogs a drink.
Likewise, the owner of Ralph's, a supermarket in Manhattan Beach, Calif., understands that many parents endure the food shopping experience with fussy children and provides free balloons to kids. This keeps a delighted child occupied, perhaps giving the parent more time to shop and spend.
Related: Who Really Runs Your Enterprise?
2. Get close, interact and listen.
The best way to find out what a customer thinks about a product or service is by asking. Too often business owners fail to actively listen to their customers. Businesses that repeatedly listen to customers and act on the information can perhaps earn a special place in their hearts.
Entrepreneurs can tap online survey tools like Constant Contact, Survey Money and Mail Chimp to gain feedback about customer sentiment.
By asking questions, the entrepreneur will learn customers’ pain points and can develop solutions, demonstrating a level of caring. The process of problem solving through listening may elevate the business in the consumers' minds.
3. Develop the company's personality.
I preach constantly in my workshops that "people do business with people" not companies, brands or ideas. But I think there's one exception: People also do business with companies that they perceive as having a personality.
One way an organization can develop a personality and create an emotional tie with customers is through social media, in the tone of updates and the content shared.
Entrepreneurs should leverage social media to develop their companies' voice. A thoughtful social-media strategy can turn a company into more of a friend and less of a business.