Please. Make me feel something!

By Mars Dorian, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Recently, I watched a talk that blew my mind.  It was called “Why the best companies make you feel something”.

The speaker, John Kearon, dubbed as the “Steve Jobs of Market Research,” asked the audience which of the following states contributed the most to the success of an advertisement:

A) Purely Logical
B) Logical and emotional
C) Purely emotional

You’d probably pick B like most did, but Kearon claims that PURE emotion is the sole buying decision influencer — because it’s targeting
your oldest and most powerful part of the brain – the fight-or-flight REPTILIAN BRAIN.  Grrrrrrr.

And in order to create the strongest reaction (e.g. making people ACT on your calls to actions), you have to create something that either pisses them off or excites them.

Kearon left his speech with a bold claim (I’m paraphrasing): “We are feeling creatures. Content matters so much LESS than you think it does.  Do something shocking or exhilarating in your marketing, but don’t be bland. If people feel nothing, they do nothing.”

Whether that’s 100% true or not, it made me think about my digital career so far. It also reminded me of this popular quote in the branding world:



This order is important.

social media emotional states

When I write with more FIRE (aka passion), I get more shares and comments.  When I create work that’s more edgy and over-the-top,
I get more (and better) clients.

When you say that’s totally unreasonable, you’re abso-fricking-lutely right. But we humans are unreasonable creatures by default:

Buying a car for 60,000 bucks is unreasonable.  The main reason for getting a car is that it takes you from point A to point B
faster and more conveniently than your feet. But who cares?  A Kia simply doesn’t make you feel the way a Mercedes does.

What about the iPad ? (Ahh, no example without Apple. Those bastards.)  When it launched no one needed it. It was too impractical to create work with it (that’s what the Mac’s for), and the app choice was rather meager back then. But people bought it like it has the cure for death inside. Because it wasn’t YOU who bought it — it was your emotive reptilian brain again. Grrrrr.

Oh let’s forget those high-class products … just look at what kind of content people spread virally online. Cats that fart and hiccup at the same time or a father that pierces his daughter’s laptop with a 44?

Come on, that kind of content has ZERO value, but it DOES evoke a strong emotional reaction in you, whether it’s laughter or disgust.

Totally unreasonable, but totally emotional.

Here’s my claim – in these social media times when everyone’s OBSESSED with stats and data, and how-to content, maybe it’s time to remember WHOM we are doing this all for — real, human beings.  With reptilian brains.

social media make me feel

Try it out for yourself — instead of worrying just about the content, focus more intensely on the emotional part of your marketing strategies :

How to infuse more emotional OOOOMPH into your marketing

  • Be “too.” Some people say my site is too cartoonish and colorful – it looks more like a comic geek’s lair than a visual marketing biz. Well, they’re obviously not my clients.  I attract the RIGHT clients who luv that style. What about you — what can you make “too?”  Too edgy, too colorful, too friendly? Too over-the-top design? Find those edges.  And walk right up to them.
  • Concentrate on the feeling benefit of your products and services. Show pictures, words and/or videos of how people feel after they bought your product or services. What’s the state you want them to feel?
  • Write visual. Using lots of latin-based words makes your ego think you’re one smart something, but it has the emotional power of a vacuum instruction manual.  The easier it is to grab your sentences, the more your audience can picture it. And if they can “picture” it, they can feel it. Ambulate this direction? No. Walk this way.
  • Include conflict. Me versus them. Our group against theirs. Your past self versus your new one. Whenever we include conflict and contrasts in our content, sparks fly. And emotions arise.
  • Surprise. Email clients when they least expect it. Personally welcome every new subscriber to your email list. Send your best customers a real card on special occasions. Create a video for your brand that no one would expect (but still relates to the brand.) When that works, you have their full attention, and you can do something with it.

Remember what Kearon said: If people feel nothing, they do nothing.

So, go beyond the numbers and how-tos, and create an emotional response to make people ACT on your calls to action!

Have you tried this in your company? Are you going to try it now?  How are you going to make me feel something?

Mars Dorian describes himself as a creative marketeer with a moon-melting passion for human potential and technology. You can follow his adventures at

Original illustrations by the author.

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