Almost everyone by now has heard of how Apple hooks people on its products, Presentation Zen or Dan Pink’s Ted Talk presentation about what motivates us to work and there have been hundreds of blog posts about how marketing on the internet is more about making an emotional connection and less about selling – but there’s an elephant in the room – it’s the “how”. We’re not all geniuses who know what is the strongest way to make an emotional connection between our products and our clients. We know how good they are, what they can be used for and so on, but…
How does a company still sell its products or services without really trying to sell?
How does a freelancer get more business without selling to companies?
How does a painter sell another painting without a broker or gallery hawking or displaying his/her work?
Actually, there’s a clue in the last question – it lies in first giving something. The painter gives the painting, often being displayed for the public to view and appreciate. Ford accomplished this with the Ford Fiesta in 2010, selling 10,000 units in the first six days of sales, in distributing 100 cars to online bloggers who created the emotional connection for them (see the Harvard Business Review Article with more details.)
Often what companies do is get wrapped up in the immediate or what seems to be the most direct path to selling their product. When presented an idea that seems only to be beneficial to the recipient as part of a larger marketing objective the accountants and CFOs throw up their best roadblock: What’s the ROI on that? Since “increase our following” or “build an emotional connection” don’t have an expected direct financial ROI the funds are often spent elsewhere, say on developing a mobile app that will allow the 10% of the 30% of visitors that see your site on a smartphone who just might download the app and then perhaps may buy your service, because you let them access it through an app. Since your site’s conversion rate might be 4% you can quantify what an expected ROI is and viola! this is a reasonable endeavor, right? Wrong.
When presented an idea that seems only to be beneficial to the recipient as part of a larger marketing objective the accountants and CFOs throw up their best roadblock:
What’s the ROI on that?
The time and money it may take to develop that mobile app to interest the mobile visitor and for the app to remain appealing in the ever changing atmosphere of mobile devices (maybe a year or two) could actually cost more than the product you could sell.
So why do we do it? We keep creating based on ROI and then when it doesn’t work we scream “Where are the sales?!” as if we’re expecting different results. Let’s go back to Dan Pink and Presentation Zen.
Did your mobile app communicate your purpose? Do you advocate your purpose? Do you have a purpose beyond making more sales? What emotional connection did it make? Chances are that if you’re a successful business, you have a purpose that suits someone’s needs and what Dan Pink and Presentation Zen and Tony Hseih are telling us is the PUROSE is what sells. Let’s get a concrete example.
Selling fake eyelashes.
Let’s say I make false eyelashes. Let’s say you’re looking for false eyelashes. You come to my site that says I’m the most experienced false eyelash maker in the industry; I make lots of great fake eyelashes. My eyelashes are expensive, but you’ll want them because of how real and amazing they are. A lot of people told me how awesome they are and I have a page with all their comments. I have all the details of how these eyelashes are made.
Then you go to my competitor’s site.
Right away you see real looking people and them putting on the fake eyelashes (they look easy to apply), the people are happy, there’s a feature of the article that Elle wrote about the fake eyelashes and how they’re all the rage. They say that they make fake eyelashes for cancer patients. They also sponsor research for hairloss that affects eyelashes. They say they know that this will put them out of business but they are deeply passionate about the issue and simply want to do good.
Now, given what tv, radio and print advertising has done so well over the past 50 years, chances are you’ve all but forgotten about what was on my site and have clicked the “buy now” button .
Why did you buy?
You connected at the emotional level. You were sold on passion, purpose and how it made you feel. Yes the product was good, but my 100s of reviews said the same about mine.
Now, many people get to this point and say “yes, I want to make an emotional contact! Go fill my site with that stuff!” Here, I have a probono story from 10 years ago and I was on the local news 5 years ago. Won’t that work?” Chances are it won’t. Just like the example, it takes creating items that don’t necessarily have a predetermined ROI but cost money to deliver. A video (of someone putting on the eyelashes), an article being published in major magazine takes countless hours of press relations, and recent probono work takes probono hours and the drive to see it through.
Point is, all the steps it took to make an emotional connection took time and money that weren’t necessarily attached directly to ROI.
Just like having a day of cake, beer & innovation doesn’t necessarily make Atlassian more money (the company featured in Dan Pink’s animate video) what it does is create an emotional connection between the company and people that fosters a relationship that does increase their ROI over time.
I’m not arguing against marketing tactics that produce direct ROI or attempting to quantify objects with ROI, I’m simply stating that not all objectives need to have an ROI or even better, that making an emotional connecting is given a budget and then quantified by questions at the point of purchase or in follow up communication such as with a survey question “What made you want to buy from us today?”.
Then you have the best of both worlds, quantified ROI and acknowledgement for the importance of emotional connection.
Why did you buy? You connected at the emotional level. You were sold on passion, purpose and how it made you feel. Yes the product was good, but my 100s of reviews said the same about mine.