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How to tap into your audience's emotions

Emotional benefits over rational benefits

Emotion drives most consumer purchase decisions. As the Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, argues in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, we are faced with too many decisions to think them all through. The consequences of each purchase are so minor, you just lean towards one product rather than another. Call it impulse, response to awareness or social proof, or what you will - something non-rational is going on.

An emotional benefit can help trigger that purchase decision. A new aeroplane that can get you across the Atlantic three hours faster than before could be sold on that feature. But the emotional benefit could tap into all the wonderful things you could do with the extra three hours. Make memories with loved ones. See the sights of New York City. Catch up with friends.

Learn what makes your audience feel

To discover your emotional benefit, you need a little empathy to get into your reader's head. Yes, you can do your research on them, but it's empathy that will tell you what they most desire or fear. And it's empathy, plus a bit of imagination, that will help you decide what emotion might connect best.

Make it personal, draw on your own life experience

You want to make your audience feel a genuine emotion - so, think about the last time you felt that emotion yourself. What triggered it? Reliving your emotions can be an awkward thing to do in a business context. But getting it right will trigger positive emotional associations that, when articulated, will make consumers buy your product or service.

We'll leave you with a couple of examples of this in action:

First Round Capital help startups grow into fully-fledged businesses. But having a B2B audience hasn't stopped them from tapping into the emotional side of being an entrepreneur. The copywriter has clearly identified one of the audience's strongest emotions - loneliness and the fear of getting decisions wrong because you can't discuss them.

Then, they've presented the service as an antidote. This flags down readers interested in being an entrepreneur, shows you feel their pain and gets a 'yes, that's true' from them. This warms them to your brand and makes the product more alluring, as it meets an emotional need.

David Abbott, legend among copywriters, takes emotions he's felt and finds a way to associate them with the product. There isn't a single rational benefit offered about the whisky itself - what it tastes like or whether it’s affordable or not. But the emotional allure for the adult male, struggling to express their emotions for their father - is overwhelming.

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