My dear reader, I can tell you without reservation that we do not make enough time for feelings in Marketing. Even though feelings, not logic, are the secret to great marketing.
We buy things because they make us feel good.
Oh, when pressed, we muster up all kinds of malarkey designed to justify our actions and hide our capricious nature from view. Your customers are no different. Even hard core business buyers are heavily influenced by perception and awareness. Which is why big brands invest so heavily in awareness studies (only to flail around trying to tie changes in influence to sales patterns).
Engineers are the absolute worst at acknowledging their true feelings. But masking feelings does not remove emotion from the equation—it just makes our jobs that teensy bit harder.
And introduces additional impediments to innovation and velocity.
Here at Mortar, we are big believers in the power of de Bono’s legendary six thinking hats exercise for giving workshop participants permission to indulge their emotions—and share their deepest feelings about a project.
The results are often surprising.
Here are five reasons you should do the same, and encourage your team to indulge in the weepy side of a project:
Stanford says we should. The cornerstone of Stanford’s famed MBA program is Interpersonal Dynamics, which pretty much everyone calls “Touchy-Feely.” “The ability to forge strong relationships with others is crucial to becoming a more effective manager in today’s complex, global, and highly interdependent organizations,” says Stanford. You can’t build relationships without feeling. Interestingly, Touchy-Feely has been the most popular elective for at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business for 45 years.
How people feel drives how they act. By listening to your team’s deep-seated concerns, you can effectively ease anxiety—freeing up previously masked aspects of your plan. You can win friends and smooth forward progress just by listening. (Of course, how you listen is a trick in itself—for which might we suggest, ahem, these guys?).
People, i.e., customers and teams, buy on emotion and yes, logic. It may not always feel like it, but business-to-business marketers do have permission to indulge in the more advanced forms of emotional marketing. The more technology verges into the realm of consumer preference, app development, community marketing, networking and customer advocacy, the more we can borrow from giants like Apple, Nike and Google—and present our products as something truly amazing, smart and human.
The other guys won’t do it. Indulging how your team feels about the project, and understanding the emotions surrounding the opportunity—good and bad—is often neglected. It makes most of us uncomfortable and can feel like a weird thing to do in corporate America. It is thus a source of competitive intelligence denied to most. We may be afraid of asking our colleagues how they really feel about their work and the jobs they have been given, but in today’s race to the finish line, any advantage—especially one so easily accessed—can prove decisive.
It works. Every marketing brief we write at Mortar has two components: how we have decided the client will be different, and the A-ha moment that is made possible because we have made the choice to focus on something new and surprising. We start with the logic, but we land with emotion. In our pursuit of emotive reasons to believe, we never case to be amazed at the quality of information our clients (and their customers) share when asked to detail how they feel about the job at hand. Don’t take my word for it, try it: ask your customers about how they feel about you and to detail their A-ha moment. They will ALWAYS offer an answer.
At the beginning of projects we often ask workshop participants to share a favorite object to illustrate their feelings about the topic. One Marketing Director opened a meeting with a colon-cleansing kit to demonstrate how inefficiently the organization approached marketing decision making, and to make her hope that this time would be different. We used that same example in our final presentation to management to highlight the need to address internal frustration and move forward with confidence and gusto.
Medical and technical marketing can’t help but over-rotate towards logic, science and the facts. But in any pursuit of advantage it always pays to seek out easy ways to differentiate and move forward.
Is today the day you invite team members to share how they really feel about the product they are about to launch?