I can’t resist looking for truth. Call it the Bottom Level, the Foundation, or the Root of Things. Whatever you like.
Getting to truth is not an act of mind, but one of feeling. It is intuition, and it feels so very real. You know when you are in truth. You are not sure of it in your mind perhaps, you can’t prove it with a calculator, nor can you get anyone else to experience it exactly as you do.
But you know it.
In marketing, there can be many levels of truth and many versions of truth.
When considering emotions in marketing (Principle #1), however, I believe the truth is pretty clear – there are only two emotions.
Which leads to my Marketing Manifesto Principle #2:
A Marketing Manifesto
10 principles and practices of great marketing:
#2: There are only two emotions to work with in marketing:
Fear and Love.
People buy things because they want to feel safe from Fear and connected to Love.
People switch back and forth between these two states of emotion continually throughout their day and, when making purchasing decisions, are really reacting from fear or love.
Give me an example…
This is a great principle because it can help you dig down to a person’s core beliefs and philosophies of life that impact on purchasing behavior. The hard part with this principle is that a purchase can be rooted in fear or love, or a combination of both.
Example: A mother sends her son, who is studying in college, a “care” package. This care package contains some new t-shirts, a book of funny comics, some of her son’s favorite chocolates, and a box of condoms.
Was this an act of fear or an act of love? Or both?
From a marketing perspective, when the mother purchased the different items for the care package, she could have different reasons for doing so – rooted in either fear or love:
- T-shirts: “I feel ashamed when my son wears old t-shirts. He says they are comfortable, but I think they show that I am a bad mother, not caring for my son. I am buying these new ones so that I won’t be afraid of what other people think of my son and of my parenting of him.”Or: “I know that my son doesn’t have a lot of money right now as he is studying in college. I thought he might enjoy some new t-shirts, ones with some funny sayings on them, to brighten his day.”
- Book of comics: “The messages in this comic book are ones I don’t want my son to forget. I think sometimes he is lazy and I fear that he won’t take care of his obligations. This comic book is all about the funny things that happen to people when they are lazy. Maybe he will get the message.”Or: “This is an absolutely hilarious book of comics. I think my son will get a laugh out of it too – I hope he enjoys it as a break from all his hard work in studying.”
Chocolates: “I want my son to remember to call me. Chocolates will show I love him and he will remember to call me because I am afraid my son will forget me and I will be alone for the rest of my life.”
Or: “I saw the box of chocolates in the store and a deep sense of love came over me as I remembered that they are his favorite kind. I bought them knowing he would enjoy them.”
- Box of condoms: “I know that in college students experiment with all kinds of things, including sex. I am afraid he will get someone pregnant and then will have to quit college to make money. Or he will catch a disease. I am buying this box to protect him from what I am afraid will happen to him.”Or: “I loved the freedom I gained in college. I bought these condoms as a small message to him to not always study, but to expand his learning to include all the loving, joyful experiences he can have in these great years of his life.Or: Both reasons could be true…
…which is where it gets tricky. Often there are more than one reason for purchasing decisions. Some based in fear, some in love.
Understanding the one or more emotionally rooted reason for purchasing decisions can be the foundation for all marketing activities for a product or brand.
Toyota, for example, is known in North America as the “safest” vehicle from a “not breaking down” quality perspective. Understanding that they are dealing with the emotion of “fear of breaking down at night on a winter highway 100km from the nearest civilization”, particularly to older purchasers, is key to understanding that they must deliver this sense of “safety from fear” to this group. The Toyota Corolla, for example, is marketed perfectly in this way, through advertising and the product design itself, being one of the most boring vehicles ever produced, and one of the most reliable:
“I don’t want a flashy vehicle. I just want to be sure it gets me where I am going. I no long care about fancy stuff. I just don’t want to break down.”
Toyota is not only dealing with the “fear of breaking down” emotion. There are dozens of important fears and loves they are dealing with in different target markets and intermingled as well. The Toyota Prius, for example, could be purchased for a fear reason – “I bought a Prius so people won’t think badly of me for driving instead of taking public transit”, or a love reason – “I love going on long driving trips that take me to places in America I can never see without a vehicle. The Prius allows me to do so in a way that I can afford, because it has such great fuel economy.”
Why only Fear and Love in marketing to emotions?
1. Because all other emotions are really rooted in one of these two.
2. Because by staying focused on the root of things – the truth of the emotions you are working with – you won’t get lost in your marketing: You will make and market goods and services that consistently deliver the emotions of Fear or Love.
Oops. I think I should have said “safety from Fear” and Love.
The Power of Marketing:
Careful here: You have a lot of power in marketing. How do you want to use it? For Fear or Love? What is your truth?