With so many dramatic shifts in marketing over the last decade, the goal of influencing customers has become more challenging and complex.
Changes, such as customers controlling the buying journey, new data privacy laws and the explosion of content channels, make it necessary for most organizations to have a robust, multi-touch marketing effort that strategically syncs channels to drive their desired actions.
What does such an effort require to be effective? Marketing management software? Analytics of historical sales data? Deep media channel expertise and engagement monitoring? These tools and more may all play a role, but your plan will only be successful if the right foundation is in place.
A successful plan always starts with deeply understanding your potential customer, donor, or member.
Humans are emotional beings
One thing that has not changed about marketing is that emotions drive decisions then people justify their decision with rationalizations. Even the most spreadsheet-loving buyer is motivated by feelings — it could be they crave a less stressful life, they want to be admired by colleagues for making a good decision, or they simply want to add some joy into their day.
While past theories of emotions identified anywhere from four to 12 core emotions, research that was conducted with thousands of participants and published in 2017 by the University of California, Berkley identified 27 universal emotions. When you look through the following list, can you identify which ones anchored marketing campaigns for Nike, Dove, John Deere, Instagram, Rolex, Save the Children or IBM?
When building your organization’s customer knowledge, make it a key goal to identify the emotions at play at different points in the relationship. This usually doesn’t reveal itself by asking people directly. You must probe, explore, listen to stories, present metaphors, read face and body language and more. It is worth the effort, however, as understanding their emotions will enable you to communicate in a way that truly resonates and motivates.
Some proven research methods for drilling down into emotions include ethnography (observing and visiting with customers in their homes or workplace), conducting individual interviews, holding focus groups, having people make video journals using your product or analyzing social media comments and reviews.
Think creatively and use more than one approach to get a solid understanding of the emotions at play. This work is also best conducted by someone who has training and experience in these competencies. If you don’t have that expertise on staff, consider hiring a firm or consultant to conduct the work or train your staff.
How to gather emotional feedback in surveys
While surveys are not the go-to instrument for gathering qualitative insights on emotions, you can implement some techniques within a survey. For example, we recently designed a survey to test a new product concept in the agricultural industry which asks the traditional questions about features and benefits. In addition to those common questions, we added agreement statements relevant to the farmer’s frame of mind, aspirations and struggles. Those results will help the client more effectively market the product they will produce to meet their customers’ emotional and psychological needs.
Other ways to gather emotional insights within a survey include asking people to relate a story about your company or having them choose from a list of emotions that represent how they feel using your product or service.
The bottom line is that understanding your customers and prospects as people first is the most effective way to attract their attention, meet their needs and establish a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.
Linda Kuster is president at Vernon Research Group, based in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at (319) 364-7278, ext. 7104 or email@example.com.