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The ClientsFirst guide to emotional marketing

By Joe French November 16, 2018 Emotional marketing

At its core, all marketing is about emotions; using emotions to build a certain perception with the buyer of what the marketer is trying to promote. Marketing content works on its audience’s emotions to create a lasting concept or ‘idea of’ a brand or product, a concept that hopefully makes consumers more likely to buy.

Emotional marketing builds on traditional marketing to really focus on the role of emotions in buying decisions. Rather than purely focusing on what customers do, it looks at an audience’s emotional response.

In today’s environment, buying pathways are far from linear. Today’s consumers hop between mobile apps, websites, social networks, chatbots and offline experiences. Without taking the emotional responses of customers into the equation, poorly timed and badly executed marketing can become incredibly frustrating.

Similar to how brand builders use ‘key messages’, in emotional marketing marketers attempt to elicit a specific emotions from their audience.

All audiences feel

While emotional marketing might seem something best consigned to the world of B2C, all people feel. This includes CMOs, fee earners, managing directors and so on… Emotional marketing is effective in B2B as well as B2C.

As much as we might like to think of ourselves as rational (and, likewise, project an image of rationality onto the people we’re marketing to), we all have some sort of emotional reaction to the marketing we experience on a daily basis.

In fact, neuroscience shows that emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions. There is no real distinction between the ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ parts of our brains - they both influence one another.  

Emotional marketing inspires action

Not only is emotional marketing a powerful tool for encouraging customers to buy, it also does wonders for overall business and brand development.

Studies show that ‘feel-good’ content spreads faster on social media than any other form. After all, people feel inspired to spread good news.

Here are some further steps that marketers need to take if they want to get ‘emotional’.

Create in depth buyer profiles

This means going beyond looking at seperate sets of data or a single touchpoint and building something more complete. You need to look at the way consumers react to your brand across social media, customer service engagements, email exchanges and face to face engagements. From this, you need to connect the data to build a persona that not only takes into account wants and needs, but also how they tend to react to your business’s marketing efforts.

Only with a detailed picture of your audience will you begin to understand how you can influence their emotions through your marketing approach. You need to understand what they think of your brand.

Go beyond simple emotions

To go emotional, you need to look beyond a marketing approach that relies on a simplified and basic structure of emotions. Although we might like to, we can’t always market to general happiness. This would lead to a rather ‘vague’ approach that doesn’t have any direction because it aims at a very general emotion, one that has a wide range of definitions.

With emotional marketing, it’s better to integrate a more specific emotion into your approach - rather than happiness, what about creating a notion of trust, comfort or sadness running through your marketing efforts. See the famous John Lewis Christmas adverts for a campaign that successfully plays on this same mix of emotions year in, year out.

Get colourful

Colour and emotions are closely tied. Specific colours carry with them certain emotions. For example, purple symbolises luxury and prestige, while green signifies harmony, freshness and fertility.

Your choice of brand colours underpin the emotions linked to your business. Take Starbucks, for instance. The coffee giant, with over 40,000 worldwide stores, uses green to project an image of harmony, balance and health - all key components of the Starbucks brand and the ecological movement it tries to tie itself to.


Evidence suggests that storytelling has been around since humans evolved to talk 1.5 million years ago. Even cave painting is thought to be a way of relaying stories before we began to write.

People are far more receptive to storytelling than they are to cold, hard facts. We get a sense of what it would be like to experience what we’re reading or seeing and begin to empathise with the characters.

In the 21st century, stories still play a large role in our lives. When it comes to marketing, stories provide an effective way of illustrating a business’s core identity and are highly memorable.  


Taking an emotional approach to marketing can be a surefire way of resonating with and inspiring your audience. At its heart, it’s about knowing your audience well and being able to weave emotional content that you know will affect them into your marketing; by aligning an emotional approach with your overall goals and inspiring an audience reaction like never before.


Demonstrating ROI to the board