I have been a student of advertising/marketing psychology since I was 15 and I am always fascinated with the hooks, gimmicks, triggers and motivators that move people and ring cash registers. Even after 40 years in this business, I’m still captivated by a revised analysis of proven ideas as well as the introduction of new thoughts on successful advertising concepts. An admitted voracious reader, I consume hundreds of articles and essays on the subject. Recently, I reviewed several books that deal specifically with emotional motivation. The first, a treatise on the secrets of effective advertising by Dan Hill, titled “About face” (Kogan Page 2010). Hill insists you must be ‘on emotion’ rather than the conventional idea of ‘on message.’ The three Ps: Passion, Purpose and Personality are critical in making your message more powerful.
I particularly like the in-depth description of ‘facial coding’ in “About face.” The idea is that the “fusiform face area” (FFA) of the brain takes in information by reading ‘facial expressions.’ Hill quotes sources suggesting that human beings are alone among animals in revealing their individuality in their faces. Therefore, choosing the ‘right’ face and personality in your ad is critical in maximizing the value of ‘facial coding.’ Research has shown that close-ups are 20% more effective than long shots. A moving actor garners more attention than one who stands still, and looking directly at the camera is more effective than a profile or turned face. The same research suggests men rate 9% higher in appeal than women and celebrities register only slightly higher than unknowns. Hill’s work reinforced an idea I’ve always felt strongly about…authenticity rules. Emotions that aren’t heartfelt are quickly read as ‘disingenuous’ in the FFA area of the brain.
“About face” lists and describes 10 guidelines for effective emotional advertising that would prove invaluable in virtually any medium including broadcast, print and digital. It’s available in most good books stores and on Amazon for around $25.
My next suggested read is “Hot button marketing” by Barry Feig (Adams Media 2006). Feig, an expert ‘consumer behavior’ founded the Center for Product Success and has written more than 100 articles for Advertising Age and “American Demographics.”
In an easy to read style, Feig also makes the case for engaging with emotion, closing with logic. Hot buttons are mental cues that lead people to buy or act on their feelings. The buttons your advertising can push incude power, achievement, control, superiority, discover, family values and of course sex, love and romance.
Some of the 16 ‘hot buttons’ Feig describes are ‘value of time.’ Promising a product that can save time as well as money is a powerful button for rushed and jammed generation. I like the fun button. Several years ago I became partners in a casino. Believe it or not, people don’t go to a casino to win. They go to have fun. We built our entire marketing theme around the ‘fun is its own reward’ concept and so far it’s working very well.
The key to discovering ‘hot buttons’ is research of course and the truth is, you may embed numerous buttons to reach different socio-demographic segments within the same campaign, but the bottom line to an effective hot button motivation is the one-on-one application of “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM). The only thing a shopper truly cares about. And when you find the right button to drive home that WIIFM message, you’re well on the way to maximizing your advertising effectiveness and efficiency. “Hot button marketing,” by Feig is available at most bookstores and online at sites like Amazon for around $12.
Finally, on my emotional marketing roller coaster of reads is “The advertised mind” by Erik du Plessis (KOGAN PAGE 2005). Hailing from South Africa, du Plessis heads a marketing research and brand consulting firm in addition to his writing career. While I personally found this book a little more intricate to digest, it was time well spent. In one recommendation, it was suggested that this treatise is designed for patient, methodical readers with a quest for insight. In other words, it’s a little ‘wonky.’ But, again if you love this stuff like I do, it is well worth it.
What I like best about “The advertised mind” is the author’s explanation of the brain’s supervisory attentioning system that continually registers and sorts sensory input. Particularly I like how he talks about how the concept of ‘recall’ works. Every good ad writer and production person can benefit from the understanding of this concept. Years ago I read another book on this same subject describing it as the ‘phenomenon of phrasing,’ whereas the brain tends to group words and thoughts together in order to process information faster. That’s why ‘clichés’ and slogans work so well. Within a half-millisecond the brain has figured out where to take you, even before the familiar phrase is completely spoken or digested. These internal processes help the brain to process and absorb input much faster and with better understanding. Additionally, when the brain shapes a memory, it tags that memory with emotional associations. How can this be used to your practical advantage? For instance, imagine a customer in a close-up talking from the heart about the experience at your dealership (possibly with the dealership sign/logo in the background) and somewhere on that same screen is the word ‘trust’. You are building neuron phrase the brain can file as a packet. This is where the recall effect comes into play.
Think of it this way. Virtually every person you know or experience you’ve had is associated with tagged memories of emotional association. Once you understand how the brain processes this information, you’ve gain valuable insight into production values that will build ‘share of mind’ with every mention of your name. And that…is a good thing.
A lot of the reading I do is on my subscription to GETabstract.com, a resource I have mentioned before in several articles. I highly recommend this service to the serious reader of business books. Almost every business book of value is available as a condensed abstract that you can download as a PDF, for your Kindle, Blackberry or often as an audio book. The subscription price is about $300 a year, but that is small potatoes for the value of this service. Imagine ‘reading’ 10 good books over a weekend! As an additional benefit, you can order the full copy of the book if the abstract interests you enough right on the GETabstract website.
If you’d like a free copy of condensed abstract of the book “About face” mentioned in this article, email me and I’ll send it along.
Remember, your advertising should parallel your sales process. You wouldn’t jam a number down a customer’s throat the moment they walked thru the showroom door.
Don’t do it in your advertising. Hook with emotion…through hot buttons, facial coding, arousal of the neurons store in “supervisory attentioning system”. Engage your customer with the emotional value of WHATS IN IT FOR THEM… then close with logic.
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Good Selling! And a fantastic healthy, happy New Year!