Tugging at the Heartstrings
“…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
Let’s face it, human beings are viscerally emotional creatures. Our actions are typically driven by how we feel and what our gut instincts are towards a product, individual or event. We generally don’t buy things because we think it’s useful or because we are blown away by its remarkable features. Far from that, we make a purchase when we are emotionally driven towards something that we find relatable. It’s not quite an impulse, but something close to that. So, where do we start?
Well, we start right with the heart. Not just any emotion, what you need is the one heartfelt emotion that translates into a decisive piece of action.
Happiness- It is a positive emotion that we all want to feel at all times. Happiness is also contagious. Who doesn’t want to be happy? It is on this premise that content marketing is centered around. A happy person is more likely to be drawn towards a brand and will also give it the benefit of doubt. But again, excessive, needless happiness also end up being nauseating. Let’s be honest, by the end of it, you get sick and tired of hearing Pharrell Williams sing he’s happy.
Sadness -This evokes a very personal response, none of us want to be sad, but when we do, we well up with empathy, introspection and a pervasive labyrinth of despondency.
Fear- It is the reason you clutch onto a friend in the dark theatre while watching a horror movie. We are hard-wired to look to people for emotional support. Fear leads to uncertainty and ambivalence. It is the biggest motivator along with happiness. Fear makes you stop and think.
Anger – We need to tread cautiously on this emotion. The key here is not to get hostile, but to give rise to dissent. The idea is to make someone disagree with you to the point of making it a talking point, without letting the emotion overpower you or cloud your judgment. One of the more effective ways of getting someone hooked on to something is to sell this emotion. Drive home the point that they have a problem… and that you have the solution. Impel them that they indeed are angry about something and need to change it.
How do you do the tight rope walk between emotional engagement and unethical manipulation? All it takes is a relevant story.
Is my story believable?
This is the make or break deal. If your story isn’t believable, no one will trust you. Plain and simple. An upset Hermione tells Ron in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, “just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all do.”
Having the right ‘narrative’ is the golden rule; the story needs to state its purpose, what it means to the consumer, and why the consumer should care.
Want vs Need
Here’s where things can get tricky, stirring a sense of ‘need’ rather than ‘want’. Unlike want, need is an emotional state. You need to make people feel the need to have that product. And how do you do that? Scratch them where it itches most. Identify what is it that they lack and come up with a solution to plug that gap. Do it gently without pushing an agenda that interferes with their core beliefs. You need an honest, emotionally loaded message that binds people, a message they can happily relate to. A story they all want to be part of.
Challenge The Obvious
In today’s social media frenzy, we’re exposed to thousands of images, videos, messages every second. From TV to websites to mobile phone, people are inundated with offers, promotional strategies and just about everything. The result — most of us are smart enough to put the blinders on and cut through the white noise because we simply don’t relate to what is being thrown at our face. Unless a story takes people by surprise or surpasses my expectations, they will have little time for it. Something grabs your attention because it’s unexpected. It’s that piece of attention that keeps you hooked.
You don’t have to be always clever, funny or even different. You do however, need to know how and when to tug at the heartstrings. The emotion that drives results creates changes and unleashes breakthrough. The rest, as they say, will fall into place.