These two questions have been fueling my mental energy for the past few years. As a journalist-turned-psychologist, turned-online-content-marketer, you might imagine that these issues keep me up at night … or not! I believe this is important stuff for any professional who wants an effective online presence.
Here’s what I see as an important shift in online marketing tactics. It has significance for you if you’re trying to create content for your own business.
Business persuasion skills, whether for presentations in person or for web pages online, have always centered on problem solving using rationality and logic. Smart professionals believe that people make decisions based on clearly laid-out arguments and intelligent thinking.
- What’s the problem?
- What does this mean to your target audience?
- Why hasn’t this problem been solved?
- What is your solution?
- What should people do now?
- What will happen if they don’t?
Ad people, however, copywriters and marketers don’t use this approach. The people who write ads for TV, or print, or direct mail letters have been using persuasion tactics that appeal to emotions rather than reasons.
Copywriters know that emotions not only guide our decisions and actions, they determine whether or not we buy. When marketers write content, they appeal to the senses and the emotions. They:
- Grab attention through outrageous headlines and images
- Appeal to basic human wants, desires
- Tell a story of one person
- Use emotional hot buttons
- Use persuasion triggers
- Motivate action with fear, scarcity, urgency
The most effective content marketing occurs with a mixture of both rational and emotional tactics. That’s because people use the emotional parts of their brains to make what they consider rational decisions.
In a split second – out of our awareness – our brains’ emotional center (the amygdala) helps us make the best choice long before the rational brain is activated. The amygdala is the receptor for stimuli reaching the brain. It has the option for making a “feeling” decision for action, or it can send the information to the cerebral cortex for rational evaluation.
Most of the time, if the brain feels comfortable with a feeling decision, it will skip the process of laboriously weighing logical arguments in the cortex in order to save time and energy.
The amount of glucose necessary to fuel the cortex processes of rational decision making is huge. The brain will attempt to conserve its fuel resources.
Therefore, as content marketers, and as business professionals, we need to appeal primarily to the emotional part of the brain rather than to the rational centers whenever we write content designed to persuade action.
This isn’t new, yet many professionals aren’t adopting an emotional approach to their content marketing. It may be because they’re uncomfortable with emotions, or they don’t understand how this translates to the reality of writing content that persuades.
Appealing to emotions doesn’t mean coming across as “touchy-feely” or as a sob sister evangelist on a soap box. It does mean, however, that you need to take off those professorial glasses, step out from behind the podium, and stop building your web pages, slides, and sales presentations with bar graphs and Excel spread sheets.
Like everything in life, it’s getting the right mixture, appealing to both emotional and rational centers. Ah, yea, verily… and as Shakespeare would say, and there’s the rub…