Persuade with Information and Emotion, no matter what you sell

September 10, 2009 at 3:41 pm 1 comment

It’s not easy breaking into the hearts and minds of consumers today. People are spending less. And communications platforms are more diverse than ever, meaning consumers’ attention is spread thin. You can still persuade people to buy – or to vote, though I’m glad we have a little time off before the 2010 elections. (Politics, of course, is no different than any other business today, from a marketing communications perspective, that is.)

If you know how best to mix your marketing communications, you can earn the mindshare so sought after by both products and politicians. The right blend of two persuasive communications methods – emotional or informative – will deliver results. Most marketers do one well. All could do better with practices that marry the two.

Some examples, good and not-so:
Microsoft informed consumers about the Zune music player, but struggled due to weak efforts at emotional persuasion, especially when compared to the iPod.

Volkswagen has played the emotionally persuasive angle heavily over the years, and is only now gaining some traction thanks in part to a better mix of information about its unique product mix.

The McCain-Palin ticket worked the emotional side intensely, and suffered from a weak information campaign.

Harley-Davidson continues to deliver incredibly persuasive emotional imagery backed up by a deep information effort – mainly through PR – keeping the motorcycle manufacturer atop the sales charts.

Nike spends heavily on athlete endorsements to gain an emotional edge, and also provides deep information – especially through Nike Running – that gives product and lifestyle information like no other shoemaker.

President Obama’s post-election communications have lacked information. Instead, his administration has tried riding its own emotional coattails, relying on some of the same unbalanced emotional persuasion tactics that caused his opponents downfall. This has left him with sinking poll numbers and struggles on the Hill as he tries to persuade everyone about the need for healthcare reform, for one.

Of course, there are exceptions. Bud Light persuades beer drinkers with its non-informative “drinkability” tagline, and it wins the beer market share game in spite of unbalanced communications.

Find a Persuasive Balance
Unless you’re marketing light beer, you need to find a balance between emotional and informative communications. The right balance will be different depending on your audience. And the right methods are out there, depending on your investment in budget and time.

I will continue this post with information about strategies for building a communications plan.


Entry filed under: Communications, Social Media.

For Understanding, Read What is ON the Lines If Only the Web Dispensed Free Coffee, Too.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. John Bowers  |  September 16, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Very insightful piece, and right on. I’ll bet if you asked 10 people to name their favorite communication (typically ads), you’d discover just what you highlight. As for Obama, couldn’t agree more. He needs to be less visible, as he is often viewed as lacking specifics (as in his health care speeches) that is frustrating his most ardent supporters. The term “all hat, no saddle” comes to mind, but may be more applicable to his predecessor, the Texan.


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