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emotion in business.

Why matters of the heart matter to business.

An emotional project by Richard Shepherd


what is emotion?


Consider a world without emotion. No love, no hate, no people that frustrate. No colour, no joy, no sailor’s ‘ahoy’. No crying, no laughter, no gifts, no reason. No friends, no foes, no hard, no easy, no testing, no pleasant, no adventure, no song, no ‘so long’. A world without happiness or strife is a world without life. Emotion exists within us, outside of us and in everything we do. Logic needs emotion like light bulbs need a vacuum, without one the fuse burns so bright as to destroy itself. Emotion is both our measure and our freedom. To give the scientific definition: “Emotion is the generic term for subjective, conscious experience that is characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states.” EQ is becoming a recognisable intelligence measure alongside IQ and the Victorian’s austere puritanical approach to business and education has all but faded from view. We are a nation of emotionally intelligent people with the will and freedom to express the feelings we’ve historically kept bottled up. For business, emotion becomes most important during communication when we sell ourselves, our ideas, our products and engage with new customers, old customers and customers to come. Emotion is the part of us that says “I love this idea and I want all my friends to know about it.”


emotional businesses


Business people are terrifically logical. We are excellent at creating value propositions, problem solving and thinking of ways to help others we are champions of useful. And we’re also pretty good at emotion. They say the best business people have a deep set passion for what they do. It’s true and that’s also a deeply emotional response. We have learned to be emotionally intelligent with our customers and contacts getting to know a large number of people on an emotional level, remembering how they like to be addressed and remembering whether we liked them and whether they liked us. In modern marketing, businesses that recognise and build on their emotional strengths do well at engaging their customers, develop strong brands and enjoy success in the marketplace. Emotion in business is both the way we choose to present ourselves and the way we interpret, measure and understand the emotions of the people we’re selling to. You can develop a highly logical business idea but if the emotion of the idea is wrong, if people take umbrage with the way it looks, what it feels like or the way it speaks to them – chances are your logic loses out. We term this emotional response as antilogic. The non-rational, non-logical responses your customers give to your overtly logical ideas. It’s sort of like learning to love colouring outside the lines.


we are the greatest story tellers that ever lived


Social media has changed the world. One billion story tellers contribute to Facebook alone not forgetting Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube and the blogosphere. And that’s just in our immediately identifiable environment. Using social media we wear our hearts on our sleeves perhaps more so than we ever have before and it is emotion that drives our engagement with these mediums as we seek to maintain our friendships, express our interests, speak to people, contribute, laugh and share in sadness. The key to social media is storytelling. Stories by their very nature are emotional connections and we choose to tell many stories each day. We choose to read many more and in amongst stories about our friends and loved ones are stories from brands, organisations and businesses which we are growing to love, care about and engage with. Clever businesses tell brilliant stories that engage emotionally with their customers. They create products and brand values that allow them to do this. Clever businesses understand who wants their ideas and can adapt to engage on an emotional level with the person they’re trying to reach. In other words, businesses get emotionally smart with their markets, inspire stories and promote engagement in the new digital, social format building revenue by way of an engaged customer base.


use modern marketing tools for communicating emotionally


Enough fluffy, here’s where we get practical with emotion. So you want to build your business? Increase sales, defend the ones you’ve got and maintain pace with competiting brands. The first thing is don’t lose your logic. It still works but integrate the emotional response too. Marketing’s stalwart four Ps still stand proud: Price, Process, Pitch and crucially Product. But let’s reach our customers and show them we care. First, create a content plan. Your advertising schedule becomes a personalised newsroom. What’s going on in your business, in your area of interest and expertise, in your life that you can talk about? What about your business do people love and what do they hate? And if they hate it why do they hate it? Check your design is emotionally concurrent. In other words, is it keeping up with cool? Is your written tone of voice personable or dogmatic? Questioning or forceful? Do your products offer emotional integrity? And if not, could you change your supplier to support fairtrade or environmental protection for further emotional points? Are you loveable or annoying? And are you totally in tune with your market’s emotional state? Get in line, speak personably, express yourself through stories in a way you feel sure is concurrent with your market’s lifestyle, choices and emotions.


tread carefully with people’s feelings


We should be mindful of course that playing with people’s emotions is a delicate task. Try too hard to please and that in itself is reason enough not to want to engage with you. It’s about having interpersonal intelligence and the ability to understand other people. Work cooperatively with people to appeal to them, be nice, be true and above all be yourself. Emotion is a truly powerful thing. Handled well and invested in, emotional connections will defy logic and build you a stronger business than cold hard selling ever will. But emotional responses can sway round too. Where there is love there is hate. Thankfully, forgiveness too is a potent emotion. We should also consider the ethics of emotional engineering particularly with young people. There is a difference between selling air brushed aspirations that undermine self-confidence and appealing to people’s emotions. Perhaps a logical approach to emotion is the way to calm our conscience. If we are the champions of useful and the torch bearers of helpful then our business endeavours are wholesome, community building activities that strive to build a sound and safe environment. Emotion is an intelligence gained because we want to better reach and serve our customers in that endeavour. After all we are real people too and when people talk to other people …


all you need is love.


Emotion in Business