Last week we discussed how to use happiness as a tool to better connect with your audience and drive brand awareness. Another powerful emotion that can be wielded into effective marketing for your business is – sadness. Yes, it may sound counterintuitive to make your customers sad. After all, who likes feeling glum?
Oddly enough, sadness activates many of the same regions of the brain as happiness. When the brain experiences those ‘blue’ feelings, two neurotransmitters in particular jump in to action. The first, cortisol – otherwise known as the stress hormone – is released, and the body may feel anxiety and tension. The second is oxytocin, which is often referred to as the ‘love hormone.’ Oxytocin produces feelings of connection and empathy. Biologically speaking, it is most prevalent during and after childbirth, when a mother is breastfeeding and nurturing her newborn. Oxytocin helps us establish fellowship with others.
Together, these neurotransmitters produce powerful effects within the body that create a desire for community. As it turns out, we really love feeling connected to people, and we especially love a good underdog story. Last September Budweiser broke our hearts with a commercial featuring a dog and his best friend, who later went out for a night of drinking and never returned home. At first, we feared the worst – that the dog’s owner suffered a fatal accident, and would never make it home. Cue the cortisol. Moments later we see the man return home to a heartfelt reunion with his dog – oxytocin – who tells his buddy that he drank too much, and stayed at his friend’s house to be safe. We’re left with a message to drink responsibly, because “your friends are counting on you.”
This commercial achieved two major things. One, we trust Budweiser. That trust may be further from our conscious than how we trust a friend or family member, but nonetheless, we believe Budweiser cares about us getting home safe, and cares about who’s waiting for us at home. And two – we will share this commercial, talk about this commercial, and generate revenue for Budweiser, either directly through our own Friday night purchases or indirectly by sharing their advertisement with our social circles. We feel an interpersonal bond with Budweiser, and when push comes to shove, emotional connections with a brand equal dollar signs. Brands that can create an emotional bond with their audience can effectively charge up to 200% more than their competitors. Somebody give that puppy a raise.
Now don’t go breaking your audience’s hearts, but consider ways to pull on those emotional triggers that will forge a trusting bond between your business and their natural buying instincts. First, think about what matters to you – why did you start your company? Were you trying to help solve a problem or create new opportunities for someone or a market that may be underserved? Then, think about how can you utilize emotional drivers in a way that will create action within your audience. Is there an underdog story you can share? Did you, or a customer, overcome an obstacle by using one of your products? Be raw and real. Like any of us, your customers are looking for ways to feel connected to the people and experiences around them. Give them an opportunity to share in something that matters to you.
Do you have a favorite ad like Budweiser’s dog commercial that really tugged at your heartstrings? Did it have the effect on you that they were hoping for? I’ll admit, as an avid dog lover and notorious beer cynic, this commercial made me almost consider giving beer another try. At the very least, I am definitely one of the people sharing their doggie propaganda. I can’t resist a good dog commercial.
This post is written as part of a series. The other parts of the series can be found here: