Imagine two advertisements selling the same 4-slice toaster.

The first ad shows an attractive picture of the toaster, followed by the technical specs and purchasing information.

The second ad is an image of a brightly lit kitchen table with a smiling family of four, each with their own slice of golden toast. The copy would read something like ‘No more fighting who gets the first slice. With our new 4-slice toaster, your mornings will be peaceful once again.’

Although the first ad serves a purpose for those looking for specific information about the product, the second ad has broad emotional appeal to those in the market for a larger toaster to keep up with their growing family.

The second ad is an example of marketing the benefit of the product or service, not the features. To break it down: the features of the toaster (such as 4-slices, settings, and technical specs) do not address any specific emotional appeal, such as the seconds ad’s call for calm mornings spent with your family.

Emotional appeal is an important thing to focus on in advertising, as it uses psychological drivers to make the audience engage with your marketing. As simple as humour or as complex as guilt, the impact well-crafted and emotionally appealing marketing has on the public is undeniable.

Selling the ‘why’ not the ‘what’ is another way to look at it. For example, say you represent an accounting firm. Selling your small business tax services would be the ‘what’, selling the time you’ll free up and the peace-of-mind of leaving your small business taxes in the hand of accredited professionals would be the ‘why’. What do you think is more affective?

To be able to engage the public in a way that appeals to their emotional triggers, significant strategy must be in place. Appealing emotionally to a target market you don’t understand is doomed to fail. You must know your potential client inside and out. It goes beyond basic demographics, into the world of psychographics, or the range of value systems and behavioral styles represented in your target market. Once you know what is important to your customers, you can better market the benefits of your product or service.

We have been lucky to work with Tourism Saskatoon for a number of years on a variety of campaigns. Through our art direction and copy, we have really tried to focus on promoting the experiences available in Saskatoon, not the attractions. For example, Saskatoon has an excellent live music scene, from the small venues of Broadway to its annual jazz festival. To market such events, we focus on the cultural significance and appeal to the audiences desire to ‘join right in’. In the tourism world, this is called experiential marketing.

Emotional appeal, experiential marketing, benefits not features, what ever you want to call it, engaging with your audience in a way in which they are triggered to act is ultimately the most successful way to market. So, figure out your audience, ask yourself what is important to them, and analyze what it is about your product or service that is appealing.