Do you think it needs to be more emotional?
That was one of the first questions from a recent client as we discussed her website content. Her company offers consulting on QuickBooks and other accounting software, as well as outsourced CFO services.
The question was more than fair. But as I gave my response, I felt like I was questioning everything I’ve always believed about how emotion and logic influence purchasing decisions.
I’ve always believed in the notion that people make purchases based on emotion and justify those decisions with logic and facts. But, like most marketing principles, it’s not nearly that black and white.
Emotion in the Response is More Important than “Emotion” in the Content
I first explained to my client that emotion isn’t just warm and fuzzy. It isn’t just tender moments. Emotions are positive and negative feelings, ranging from fear, anxiety and shame to happiness, surprise and excitement.
Next, I explained that a logical argument can elicit an emotional response. The emotional response is infinitely more important than having “emotional” content.
For example, this client can help a small business owner account for every dollar. They can use technology to better understand what parts of their business are profitable and what parts are bleeding. As a result, they can make better business decisions.
Pretty logical, the client thought. And not very emotional.
But if you’re a small business owner who has trouble managing the financial side of your business, wouldn’t you feel a flood of emotions when introduced to a company that could solve such a big problem?
Emotion and Logic Are Not Mutually Exclusive
The first thing to realize with emotion and logic is that they overlap. And one person’s emotion may be another person’s logic.
The example I just mentioned speaks to that fact. It also speaks to the importance of detaching from your business and approaching content from the perspective of your audience.
To the provider of accounting services, the message seems logical and fact-based. To the frazzled business owner, the message could trigger any number of emotions, from relief to joy to anticipation.
Instead of trying to label your message as emotional or logical, focus on what will motivate the prospect to take the next desired step.
If you’re not sure, don’t assume. Ask.
Ask your clients what you said in your content that caused them to research your company and eventually do business with you. You’ll probably get emotional reasons, logical reasons, and reasons that could be interpreted as both emotional and logical.
The right blend of emotion and logic depends on the product or service, the company, the target audience, or even the individual buyer. And it depends on where that buyer is in the buying journey.
But don’t get hung up on making the content emotional or logical. The label isn’t important because the label is often subjective.
What’s important is finding out what kind of message works.
Demand for Information Is Driving the Need for More Logic-Focused Content
For decades, marketers focused on emotional appeals. It was the classic, old-school sales pitch.
A lot of marketers probably took this approach because they didn’t have the facts to back up their emotional pitch. Or they were just blowing smoke.
Also, people haven’t always had the ability to instantly fact-check marketing claims, so marketers could get away with a lack of validation. We’ve only had anytime, anywhere access to information on our smartphones for about 10 years.
The problem with marketing based solely on emotion is that it often comes across as disingenuous. Sleazy. Even condescending.
Logic-based content may not always have the same impact as an emotional message, but the odds of a logical argument being perceived negatively are slim. Unless the logic is brutally flawed, which is a separate topic for another day.
Instant access to information has led to increased demand for information. People expect the seller of a product or service to provide information that backs up their marketing claims. Without concrete information, you have no credibility.
This is why content marketing is so important.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as “the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
In other words, provide people with the information they need and demand to earn their trust and business.
Why Do People Consume Content?
People don’t consume content because they want to be subjected to a sales pitch or an emotional appeal.
People consume content because they want to be educated. They want clarity. They want to overcome skepticism. They want to remove as much doubt as possible from their final purchasing decision.
This requires logic and fact-driven content.
Just don’t get too deep in the weeds. Analysis paralysis sets in when you go overboard with facts and data points and logical arguments, hoping one will trigger action. All good marketing, including content marketing, is simple and focused.
To be clear, you can and should incorporate emotion into your content. Just be careful to keep it real, relevant and relatable. Sometimes the most effective sales tactic is the non-sell. Just present information clearly and consistently, and let it sell itself.
To Answer the Original Question…
Do old rules about emotion and logic apply to content marketing? No.
The old advertising model says to:
- Use emotion to get your audience’s attention and agitate pain points.
- Use logic and facts to build interest and convey the value of your product.
- Use emotion to help your audience picture the outcome. Show them the results of using your product and how they’ll miss out if they don’t buy.
- Make a strong emotional appeal in your call-to-action.
Content marketing is about pulling people in with information and a value proposition, not pushing out sales messages. It’s about building credibility and trust by providing content with substance. It’s about helping people.
Should emotion be a part of the equation? Absolutely. How can you not get an emotional response if you truly help someone?
And that’s the key. Focus on getting an emotional response.
Whether you perceive your content as emotional or logical is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the connection it makes with your audience.