Undoing mental patterns and habitual behaviors can be devilishly hard to do. This is in direct contrast to how easily we create mental patterns and habitual behaviors.
I recently began undoing my belief that I have to make decisions all the time. I guess I made a decision to stop making so many decisions! A most fascinating and empowering journey has followed.
I gained the belief early in life that we are in control of our lives and destinies. This control is called free will, and I was taught in school and by the world that it is a precious thing that should be exercised daily. This belief in my free will has been at the foundation of my philosophy of life. In fact, I still have the belief that I have free will.
What has changed, however, is in how I choose to use my free will. One choice I made was to undo the belief that I have to make decisions all the time. I used to believe that if I am not making decisions all the time I am not actually exercising my free will.
I now have a different belief. Free will is not about making decisions all the time. It is about “freely using my will”.
If this is getting too theoretical, here is an example:
Election day. You are to elect a new government leader. You are presented with a list of 4 candidates. You must decide on one and choose him/her.
First, who said you have to choose one from a set of options you didn’t create?
Second, who said you must participate in this decision process called an election?
Why did you buy into these two beliefs?
“If you don’t vote, you are not fulfilling your legal, moral, and ethical responsibilities to this country. ”
Ahhh…there we go: I was forced, encouraged, or guilted into participating in a decision making process called an election. And I am a bad person if I do not participate. Someone decided that participating in elections makes you a good person and not participating in elections makes you a bad person.
Wait a minute!
How many other beliefs and decision making processes have I been invited to ascribe to and participate in? How many have I chosen to believe and participate in, quite willingly, because I thought it was the fulfillment of the reason I have free will?
Lots, and lots, and lots.
Let’s take a step further back to uncover more goodies:
In university I chose a business education, where I gained the belief that leaders and managers are decisive, take initiative as a part of their minute-by-minute workday. You must “drive the agenda”. And another saying goes: “Decide, or someone else will decide for you.”
This is where it gets even more interesting: “Decide, or someone else will decide for you”, is actually a fear-based belief!
I chose long ago not to live or act from a state of fear.
But I am still playing out the habits of my university training!
Decide. decide. decide.
“People who don’t decide are weak, spineless individuals. They are soft. They don’t take initiative, but let life walk all over them. The meek may inherit the earth, as the saying goes, but I would never want to be meek! Why be a victim when you can be a victor!”
Again, full stop.
This is getting silly.
One last look at this:
How many times have I encouraged my children to make decisions, when they did not understand the need for the decision to be made, the choices available, or the consequences? How traumatic was it for me to have to make “blind” decisions as a child, when I learned that decision making often resulted in outcomes that I didn’t understand and that hurt? Ouch.
What I believe free will is not
Free will is not about becoming a “decision junkie”, thinking we have to make decisions all the time when we really don’t. it is not about habitually making decisions out of fear, usually without understanding the real reasons for the decision needing to be made in the first place. It is not about accepting the choices we are being presented and assuming without thought that they are the only options and the most valid ones. Free will is also not about making decisions without understanding the importance of the consequences of the decisions.
And it is not about forcing others to make decisions when they don’t need to.
What I believe free will is
Free will is about exercising our ability to choose how we live our lives: What we believe, and how we act from those beliefs.
This year, I will use my free will to undo lots of beliefs and to make fewer decisions. And in doing so, I choose to empower myself to stay focused on the quality of my life itself and how I wish to live it.
I can hear the critics gleefully challenging this logic with “you just made a decision!”
Intellectualize all you want. I won’t play that game (another decision).
I am backing out of my addiction to the distracting activity called decision making.
And in doing so I am taking my power back to use my free will to focus on what will make me stronger and happier in my life.
In Part 1 of this look at what customers want, I made the case that they want to buy a future set of feelings. To prove my point, I sent the willing reader to a grocery store to uncover for themselves how everyday products have deeper underlying meanings with emotional attachments. The logical mind does not want to believe in the emotional reality of our purchasing habits because admitting so triggers feelings of vulnerability and ego responses.
In this Part 2, we answer a “how” question. If customers only want a future set of feelings when they are buying things, how can we figure out what those desired feelings are?
What do customers want to feel?
Principle 1: You must know yourself
We all have subconscious and unconscious beliefs, habits, fears, and dreams. They drive most of our thinking and behavior. As marketers, we see, hear, interpret, analyze, and assess through the lens of this “stuff” that is bubbling constantly under our mental surface.
Want to become excellent at figuring out what customers really want?
Get yourself out of the way.
In other words, by becoming conscious of the engine that is under your own mental hood, you quickly clear the lens of how you see and understand other people.
Is this something you can do in one day or one week? No. Self-inquiry is a process that you start and never end – it takes a lifetime. That said, the fact that you choose to initiate a self-inquiry process instantly puts you into a mental position that you want to see and understand the world they way it is, not the way you think it is. If you are successful at making self-inquiry a daily habit, you actually reap the benefits in the first day and the very first week.
And as times goes by, you become more and more astute with your observations and understandings of human motivations and behavior.
Principle 2: You can’t ask people what they want to feel
Another survey a company wants me to complete. Uggghh…
Surveys don’t work if you are trying to get at what customers really want. Nor does simply asking customers in any form. Oh, asking customers their opinions is good for uncovering some feelings after they have interacted with your product or service. A survey can give you a sense of customer satisfaction. But asking customers cannot actually uncover their true purchase motivations.
Why? Because customers don’t know what they want. I mean this literally: They don’t know the real reasons they want something. By “know” I mean be able to clearly and in detail articulate the emotional underpinnings to their desires.
They think they know why and will defend their position vehemently if you were to press them or challenge them. But they generally can’t and won’t be able to give you the underlying reasons – the real reasons.
To give you the real reasons would be worse for them than stripping physically naked in front of you: It would be stripping emotionally naked in front of you. Most people are afraid to be physically naked in private and look at themselves in a mirror. How many people are strong enough to strip emotionally naked to you, a stranger, when stripping emotionally naked to themselves would be one of the most terrifying things they could do as a human being?
A ridiculous example to make my point:
Researcher: “So, what are the emotional reasons you want to buy the new iPhone?”
Customer: “I want an iPhone because I am afraid of being left behind. If I don’t get a new iPhone, my friends will think I am loser and no-one will like me anymore. Girls will think I am poor and I will end up lonely and worse: I won’t be part of the “normal” people at school. I fear this will lead to me becoming irrelevant and lost in social and work settings, leading to a life living without money or hope for the future. Belonging is extremely important to me, and if I don’t belong to what Apple and the iPhone represent, I will engage in negative habits and behaviors such as addictions, anger, sadness, and ultimately, self-destruction – I will die on the street as a beggar.”
While this is silly example, can you see that almost no-one in this world would allow themselves to uncover true feelings to themselves, much less openly to someone doing marketing research?
Principle 3: You must uncover true customer desires
So, if you can’t ask customers why they really want to buy something, how do you find out?
You have to uncover the deeper truths – the emotions customers desire to feel.
To uncover the truth, you need to use a lot more of yourself than just your logical, rational brain. You need to use a whole host of aspects, skills, and abilities in yourself, including emotional intelligence and some that are innate – they can’t be “learned”, but they can be developed.
Here is a summary PowerPoint slide I use in my MBA marketing course:
Uncovering the truth is a messy business.
It means observing and engaging with your customers and allowing yourself to see deeply into their lives, gaining insights from their lifestyle behaviors, purchasing habits, and thinking.
It takes time, effort, strength of will, and allowing your own vulnerabilities to be exposed.
It means creating a connection to your customer so they will open up to you.
Would you like to see a master at work, someone who isn’t afraid to delve into his own emotions as he figures out what people really want?
Mad Men: Don Draper and the Kodak Slide Carousel:
How do I build the skills and abilities to be like Don Draper?
The best marketers, as exemplified by Don Draper in Mad Men, must learn and develop more of themselves than simply their intellect.
Want to become like Don Draper? Start learning and developing the following:
1. About yourself (as noted earlier)
2. Emotional intelligence – how other people feel, and why.
3. The ability to feel emotions in yourself without pushing them down or getting overwhelmed.
4. The personal strength to interact openly with others so as to engage much more of yourself with them.
These are life skills, really. And perhaps engaging in life is the best way, if not the only way, to learn these.
As in Part 1, here is an exercise that can get you started on the path to expanding your skills and abilities in uncovering the truth about what people and customers really want.
1. Go to a coffee shop by yourself. Starbucks is a good one to begin with.
2. Order your drink and get a seat where you can observe the lineup and at the same time be near other people who are sitting and drinking and chatting.
3. Shut off your cell phone, shut off your laptop, remove your earphones, put down anything you are holding, and sit comfortably with your hands on your lap.
4. Feeling a bit naked and uncomfortable? Good! You are used to being with friends, holding something, and being “plugged in” to your electronics. Now you are alone, with no safety blanket and unplugged. You are a bit naked, no? Sit with this feeling for 5 minutes or so. What happens? Are people looking at you, pointing their fingers and whispering to each other?
No, of course not.
As you come to realize that you are OK just sitting there, you will also begin to notice that your discomfort levels rise and fall, depending on what thoughts flow through your mind. You may also notice that your mind tries to escape by going into stories, fantasies, or memories. Gently return your attention to the coffee shop when this happens.
5. Do a conscious observation: Watch how people enter the coffee shop and line up to buy their drinks. Watch how they stand in line, chat with each other, and how they interact with staff when it is their turn to order.
How do they behave? Where do they look? Do they seem comfortable or nervous? What patterns do you start to see emerging?
6. Do another conscious exercise: Listen to a conversation that is taking place near you. Of course you cannot watch the people as this would be socially unacceptable (staring), but you can listen in. Or can you? Do you feel uncomfortable doing this? Why?
As you listen, sit with any feelings that arise in you. Are they your feelings being triggered by what you hear, or are you simply picking up the feelings of the people who are conversing, just as you pick up the heat of the sun when it shines on your skin?
As you listen to the conversation, can you observe your mind picking up interesting patterns and insights? Can you hear your mind comparing what you are hearing to your own experience of life?
After 20-30 minutes of holding yourself separate from your habits and simply observing, you may find yourself getting mentally tired, emotionally upset , and even stressed. Or you may find yourself in a new and exciting state of being, similar to a meditative state. There is no right or wrong here of what you experience. Be gentle with yourself if you do find this hard. It takes practice to be by yourself and feel safe, strong, and open to hearing and experiencing the realities around you.
Question: How many times in the 20-30 minutes did you pick up your drink? Was it a habitual movement, a nervous reaction, or simply a desire for a drink? Be honest with yourself!
At the end of this exercise, walk out of the coffee shop and observe any feelings you have as you walk out. Relief? Exhilaration? Or feeling nothing?
Walk off the experience to clear your mind and emotions and reflect on what you learned.
Congratulations! You have practiced several skills and abilities that the best marketers have!
Are you ready and willing to do it again in another coffee shop?
There are two verbs in this definition: “organize” and “manage”.
These are active. You organize and manage. You do these things.
And you get good at organizing and managing as an entrepreneur by practicing organizing and managing. By independently daring to do the organizing and managing. No-one gives you permission. You answer to no-one. You initiate and do them yourself.
Like riding a bike, you can’t really study entrepreneurship in a way that makes it passive. Well you, can. And you can study how to ride a bike, can’t you?
But in the end, you learn to ride a bike by…riding a bike.
And you learn entrepreneurship by…organizing and managing a business.
Which leads to the paradox: Can you teach entrepreneurship?
Lorne Fingarson figured out how to teach entrepreneurship.
Homage: Thank you, Lorne Fingarson, for inviting me to develop “curriculum” and “teach” in the Business Incubator Program at BCIT – The British Columbia Institute of Technology – from 1991-1993.
Lorne figured it out. He convinced BCIT to deliver a program where entrepreneurs would get the learning and support they needed to increase their chances of startup success. His stats showed that with incubator support, he could get the success rate of business startups from 10-20% up to 60-70%.
But my “curriculum” and “teaching” in the program were anything but normal “university” lecturing. Instead, at BCIT I supported entrepreneurs in learning the financial and marketing skills they needed for their businesses to be successful. Not by lecturing, but by coaching them during their active “organizing” and “managing” of their businesses.
And that is the key difference: The focus was on the entrepreneur and their business, not on me and my knowledge.
Student centered learning – the “flipped classroom”
When I first took a case-based business course during my undergrad, I was hooked. Cases opened my mind to how the world works and gave me a chance to solve real problems. My MBA was entirely case-based.
And when we actually had to “do” a business in another undergrad course – actually make a business happen – I was ecstatic.
It is no wonder, then, that my teaching these last 23 years has been student centered.
In Dubai I led a team of faculty in creating something unique: An entrepreneurship-based e-business bachelor degree program. With the brilliant Tony Degazon in the co-pilot seat, we pushed and pushed to see how much we could get away with in a post-secondary institution.
Could we create an incubator-style program where students created online businesses?
We did! And what an amazing Program! From laying out their “classroom” (including painting the room and laying out the “office”) to choosing their own businesses that they actually started, our students were at the center of the learning. This was the true student-centered, flipped classroom.
And it worked.
Back in Canada after 6-1/2 year in Dubai, I did two things: Teach business part-time at a university and start my own businesses.
I wanted to organize and manage my own businesses for the sheer joy of being an entrepreneur and I wanted to share my passion for “doing entrepreneurship” in the higher-ed classroom.
The organizing and managing of my own businesses has been a wonderful journey, and often quite profitable.
The entrepreneurship “teaching”?
Kind of “hit and miss”.
Entrepreneurship and universities: An awkward fit
Despite my best intentions, the fit was never a strong one between entrepreneurship – an active way of doing business – and the more passive study of business, as universities are set up to do.
Oh, I write lots of case studies for universities, colleges, and corporate trainers all over the world.
And in years past I got away with teaching an international marketing course primarily through my students creating real international businesses in their 14 weeks in the course. And again, amazing outcomes resulted. One student team created such a successful business that they had to shut it down to finish their studies – it would take too much of their time. In the end, the defacto team leader told me that she wanted to get her MBA because she wanted to work in a corporation, not run her own business.
(Oh the sometimes startling agony in being a teacher: The most successful online venture from all the teams in all the running of the course and the business gets shut down because it was too successful and not what the student wanted to do!)
In the end, universities are set up to study things, not do things. And no slight intended: The world needs things studied. But so does entrepreneurship need a student-centred or “flipped classroom” approach to succeed. Perhaps not something that hundreds of years of history, process, and tradition, called the university model, is designed to support well.
We need more Lorne Fingarsons and more business incubators
When Howard Schultz was building the Starbucks brand, he wanted each location to be “a third place between work and home”. To this day, I tend to spend lots of time socializing, reading, working, and drinking chai lattes in one particular Starbucks location. This one is the most comfortable coffee shop among the several I have to choose from in the urban village that I like to call home. To be clear, not every Starbucks is designed and arranged the way this location is – spacious, warmly lit, comfy seating, and friendly. But there are many locations, like this one, that live up to Howard’s vision and desire for Starbucks to be part of the communities they operate in – a “Third Place”.
Why a “Third Place”?
Every generation needs a place to be. Not home, which is safe and nurtures who we are, and not work which defines other feelings, such as labeling what we do. A third place, then, is a place where we can be in community with others, express ourselves, and transition between work and home so as to not bring one into the other.
“I want to go where everyone knows my name!”
(Cheers: TV – 1982-1993))
“No one drinks anymore!” When I heard this statement , it startled me. To the 50-something year old person who spoke it, local bars, taverns, and pubs were their Third Place. When I was young the television show called Cheers was all the rage, beloved by many. In this sitcom, a group of people make a pub in Boston, MA their place to be. For some reason, the show Cheers never really resonated with me. To this day, I don’t really drink much alcohol and don’t associate it as a social connector between myself and others. I don’t have any particular beliefs or judgements around alcohol, to be clear. Alcohol, and establishments that make it central to the experience, are simply not my Third Place.
“We are going to the [yacht/tennis/golf/curling or whatever] club.” If you have a specific activity, belief, or passion that you want to identify with, and want to spend time with others who like the same thing, these clubs are for you. Once you are “in”, you feel like you belong and can “be” there. Wonderful! I am happy that people can find these feelings from such clubs. But while I do many activities, I don’t really identify myself with any one activity. I am not “a golfer”, for example. In one startling experience, a checkout person at a department store stated to me “You are not a shopper, are you?” when I declined joining the store’s “points club”. No, I am not a “shopper”.
The venerable library, once quite a comfortable place to be for young and old alike, is now an often uncertain mix of internet access terminals, videos, study space, and what feels like oddly outdated books. It is a place to hang out during the day for people in transition, the homeless and semi-homeless, and an eclectic mix of others who are not engaged in a daily 9-5 job. Can you “be” there? Sure. Many people make it their place to be, and the diverse mix of folks in a library make it an interesting place to observe human behavior. But you are watched. Carefully. The central branch that I use has a security guard posted strategically so that you won’t steal videos. And in the end, a library still feels like a library. Despite having visited dozens of libraries around the world, I have only ever found one that didn’t feel like a library, but felt rather like a community “place to be”. It was in Ohio. I don’t live in Ohio.
Ahhh…the Community Center, of course!
What about public community centers? Well, some are really sports clubs. Others are places where seniors hang out and hobby courses are run in the evenings. Some, a rare few, actually have nice space to hang out – places you can “be” without paying to get in. Open lounges, couches, activity rooms that don’t have to booked and paid for – you can simply use them. Nice. I don’t have access to one of those kinds of community centers where I live.
A new realm
Young people have found a new place to be. It is called “online”. I have observed that they can be in your living room, but not “be” there with you. They are elsewhere mentally, socially, and in spirit. The first time I experienced this in an extreme form, it stopped me in my tracks. A young person, who was visiting my son for a couple of weeks, was in my living room alone and in the dark. This person was doing something on their laptop, with earbuds in place.
Said to me in a startled fashion when I said hello upon entering the living room:
“Oh, sorry. I am watching a movie with a friend in Toronto.”
In response to my utterly confused look they hastened to add:
“On this site we both watch the movie and we [text] chat with each other on the same screen. It is like we are in the same room.”
The eyes went back to the laptop, the fingers continued chatting. I ceased to exist to them. I stood there for a minute. I felt like a stranger in my own living room. Then I left the dark room, not quite knowing what to do there if I stayed. In the time that followed during their visit I observed that rarely a live, in-person contact took place between them and myself. However, online interaction seldom ceased, day and night. And it was not that there was any problem between us – it was simply that I didn’t exist in their reality. I was a ghost, floating in and out of their experience and occasionally startling them from their online interactions by speaking at them in-person. And this, despite the fact they were physically in my home for an extended period of time.
The “connected young” make a significant part of of their life online. In the extreme it seems the physical world is only a distraction from their “real” life online. And while I find the online world enjoyable and useful, I don’t live there. It is wonderful to connect and chat online or by text message at times, but then the technology gets put down and I continue what I feel is my “real” life, in the flesh.
So, where can I “be”?
I am not a drinker. I don’t define myself by any particular activity or belief system. I do not see the current form of the library as a place I can be. And I am not a senior who uses community centers – and won’t be for a long time. I don’t live my life online.
So it has been Starbucks for me. And it has worked pretty well.
A new place!
Today I visited a co-working space. Google the term “co-working” if you haven’t heard of what it is. This co-working space is a very cool place to work, hang out with independent peeps like yourself, and really feel comfortable in. It has a coffee lounge complete with couches, “hot desk” areas to work with your laptop, bike storage, lockers, meeting rooms, and more. You pay for your time being in the co-working space, but unlike a commercial transaction, you pay a form of rent by the day or month that covers the cost of the communal space. So you feel more like a citizen than a customer. It is another place to “be” for people like me. Oh, and this co-working space is called The Hive. As in “bee hive”. Or “be” hive! Delightful.
Now I have two “Third Places” I can be in. My favourite Starbucks, and a local co-working space similar to The Hive that I found the next day.
Don Draper: Says who? Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this [marketing]. They take all this monkey crap and just stick it in a briefcase completely unaware that their success depends on something more than their shoeshine. YOU are the product. You – FEELING something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do, and they hate us for it.
I have taught hundreds of students this core marketing principle: “Feelings” – emotions and desired emotional states – are the foundation for all customers needs and wants. And yet, it is the minority who “get it” and seem to integrate it. Some even outright reject the notion! They have clearly stated to my face that they don’t want to see the world that way. They want to believe they make rational, unemotional decisions and that the world is constructed in a rational mechanical way. All my students are really smart people, but the concept doesn’t seem to stick with most of them! Intelligence is not the issue here. Something else is going on that is simply beyond the scope of intelligence to explain.
So why is it, as Don Draper says, that “They can’t do what we do…”?
This primer on emotions and marketing is my attempt to bridge that gap. I believe everyone can understand and use this idea to more fully understand themselves and how they want to participate in our consumer driven society, as a customer or as a marketer. It doesn’t matter if you are marketing professionally or simply marketing yourself into a new job: Emotions are the basis of it all.
Foundation Truth: We really only want to buy emotions
We do not want things, such as shiny new cars, beautiful clothes, delicious food at a restaurant, 4k TV’s, or new iPhone models. We do not want services, such as a car wash, a hair stylist, great service at a restaurant, 150 channel digital HD TV service, or 4g cell phone service.
Instead, we want to experience certain feelings, and we look to the world outside of our mind for some thing, some process, or someone to trigger those feelings in us.
Examples of the things and services we think we want and the emotions we really want:
What we think we want –> What we really want
A shiny new car –> The feelings of personal freedom, having “made it”, starting fresh, hope for the future, being seen by others as wealthy, modern, successful, young, desirable, …
Beautiful clothes –> The feelings of being attractive, confident, sexy, respected, honoured, desired, seen as successful, …
A hair stylist –> Someone who can help make me feel fresh, new, attractive, desired, beautiful, self-confident, …
Delicious food at a restaurant –> The feelings of happiness, treating oneself, pleasure, reward for having worked hard, …
A 4K TV –> The feelings of status, being rewarded for your hard work, feeling modern and up-to-date, feeling proud of your belongings, status because of your wealth, feeling the need to escape into another reality so very clearly available on a 4k TV, …
A new iPhone model –> Feelings of status, control, power, fitting in, empowered to excel, being seen as attractive because you are “with it”, rewarded for your hard work, deserving, excited, delighted, entertained, …
Accepting that you are a bundle of walking and talking desires for emotional states is the first step to understanding how emotions rule marketing…and rule our lives. Ignoring the surface level – the “artifacts” and “manifestations” of our conscious and unconscious desires – and looking for the underlying emotional drivers and causes of these artifacts and manifestations showing up in our lives is a habit worth cultivating.
Why is it so hard to see the world through the lens of emotional desires?
Earlier I noted that some students outright reject the notion that emotions are the driving force in how consumer buying decisions are made. I think there is conditioned thinking happening: Math, logic, and the scientific method are “true”. Emotions and non-linear logic are “false”. Emotions are messy, messy things and perhaps this simply scares a lot of people – and maybe men more than women, if I can be excused for a bit of stereotyping.
And I think it is also because we are scared of ourselves – of what might be lurking under our own illusory logical, rational beliefs about who we are.
Foundation Truth: Most people are not able to see below the surface
We live in a world where personal reflection and the seeking of truth are not valued, appreciated, encouraged, or supported. Instead, they are actively discouraged by parents, teachers, friends, the media, marketing influences, and even our own ego, which fears what the truth might mean. The tiny voice in the back of your mind which is calling you to seek truth is tiny indeed, and very much hidden in the background of our day-to-day thinking.
No, this is not a value judgement where I am shaking a fist at the bad people doing this to you.
No, this is not even something that is necessarily bad.
It just is. It is truth. Most people cannot see below the surface and you cannot make them do so.
However, once someones decides to start digging – once they are good and fed up of being a puppet whose strings are being pulled by their unconscious mind and the current circumstances they find themselves in – all the tools are ready for them to begin deconstructing their minds, lives, and how the world of marketing works.
Are you ready to see below the surface?
(Warning: Once you dig deep enough, you can never go back into the proverbial “Matrix”!)
We all get glimpses of truth now and again. The veil of illusion shifts slightly and we see into the backstage for just a second. This is not good enough. These glimpses are just that: glimpses. Your habitual way of thinking is to focus on the illusions of the world, which are the artifacts and manifestations you think are real. Now you must practice and habituate seeing through the veil – parting it, ripping it down, and walking through it – in order to see your own truths and the layers of truth under the illusions you think are real.
1. Shut off your cell phone. Remove your ear buds.
2. Go to your local grocery store by yourself. No cell phone, no smart phone, no ear buds, no distractions.
3. Pick up a hand basket. Do not put anything into this basket. This basket is a symbol of your free mind – empty and open.
4. Walk through all the aisles of the store, pausing and letting your mind trigger into thoughts and emotions for each item that your eyes rest upon. Allow your mind to fully form these thoughts and fully imagine the scene that plays out. Do not try to close down your thoughts or move on until they are fully formed and played out. If you feel emotions of any kind, “be” with them as best you can. We are not accustomed or encouraged to letting emotions flow through us. It takes bravery and practice to allow them to be a powerful tool we can use.
My real example: “I see the potatoes in a big pile. I think of my father, who loved potatoes. He wanted them every day. They reminded him of the tough times he had during WWII when there wasn’t enough food. Eating potatoes made him feel safe. I remember feeling his hurt when he talked about his experiences of being hungry during the war. My father is dead now. I miss him. I wish I could give him a hug right now. ” (I am feeling a lot of emotion) I pick up a couple of the nicest potatoes and put them into my basket, understanding now that they are not potatoes to me in that moment, but symbols of my love for my father and my honouring of him and the experiences he went through. By buying those potatoes, I am actually buying a bit of a memory of him and triggering my desire to feel loving…
The whole store and this exercise too big and uncertain? Try just wandering by these specific items:
– Lettuce and salad ingredients
– canned soup
– fresh baked bread
5. When you are exhausted mentally and/or emotionally, stop the exercise. If you have been open to the experience, you will likely get tired and emotionally overwhelmed very quickly. This is natural and it means you are doing the exercise correctly. No, this does not mean that seeing below the surface of things is always exhausting and emotionally draining. It only means that you have little practice with doing so and no-one has ever told you that this takes time and practice to build up the strength to allow the undercurrents of your mind to become conscious and to see the truth of how emotions drive your thinking and behavior.
The grocery store and food items were specifically chosen for this exercise because of the powerful role that food plays in our lives and the often very emotional states and stories that are connected to specific food items.
6. Go for a walk or engage in another physical activity immediately after this exercise to let the truths you have exposed settle and clear from your mind. Maybe you need to sit quietly for awhile instead of physical activity. All good. While walking or sitting quietly, embed in your memory the path backwards from the physical item through your “story” and to your underlying emotions. In effect, you are seeing what every artifact you focused on means to you and how your behavior is the result of the emotional drivers as they pass through your “story”.
How does marketing work? It triggers your emotions by guiding you through a story that is presented to you, with an artifact at the end that you are encouraged to buy because you want to connect to and experience the underlying emotions that the marketing story has triggered in you.
Marketing is creation. It is the creation of needs for artifacts and manifestations through the triggering of your largely unconscious emotional needs and a “story”. if you don’t have this story within you, marketers will gladly supply it for you.
Want to do some more of this kind of exercise to see how pervasive emotions and stories are in your life? Try exposing yourself to the following:
– A new car lot (from the sidewalk so that no salespeople interrupt you)
– A 7-11 or other convenience store you have frequented.
– A park with a playground.
– A movie theatre
– A shopping mall.
– A swimming pool
– A natural area that you love – maybe a path beside a lake or in the forest.
If you are brave enough to let the stories and emotions flow, it will literally change who you are. You will “wake up” in a very profound way.
Struggling to understand this? Watch the video clip I quote at the beginning. It might help:
Part 2: How to discover the emotions that others want to experience
Once you see that emotional desires are the foundation of how you generate needs for things, you can make the logical leap that everyone else must also operate the same way (they do). The best businesses do not try to sell you things. First they figure out what your underlying emotional needs are and then carefully construct a story that will engage you into wanting an artifact or manifestation (experience) that will give you those emotions.
The problem? No-one talks this way! You can’t ask someone to share their “emotional desires”. Finding out what people want, so that your marketing efforts can trigger the correct mix and temperature of desired emotions, is actually pretty tricky.
In Part 2, we start to look at how to discover the emotions that individuals and groups of people want to experience…