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Using Emotional Appeal

Answers.com defines emotional appeal as a type of advertising in which the copy is designed to stimulate one's emotions, rather than one's sense of the practical or impractical. When copywriters use emotional appeal in advertising, they are attempting to appeal to the consumer's psychological, social, or emotional needs. The copy is written to arouse fear, love, hate, greed, sexual desire, or humor, or otherwise create psychological tension that can best be resolved by purchase of the product or service (2006).

Remember the infomercial on television when Sally Struthers stood atop a garbage mound in the Philippines begging for people to donate over the phone while many of the children wandered around scouraging for food? This is a great example of an emotional appeal. The goal of the commercial was to implore you to empty out your wallets by looking at the deplorable conditions these poor people were living in and make you feel a strong sense of emotions. And what happened from this commercial was the notion or belief that the majority of the people in the Philippines lived this way in poverty and filth, which is actually not the case.

Emotional appeals are used all over the place, on the television, in magazines, and of course the Internet. The intent of Emotional appeal marketing is not always about accuracy, it’s about selling. I’d like to provide a few examples of how emotional appeals work:

On November 16, 2006, I posted a blog article entitled: Top-Selling X10 Items, and in it I touch upon product needs versus product wants. Product needs were products people purchased because of a direct need maybe because of a traumatic event or something happening in their life requiring the purchase of these items. While product wants were items that people wanted or wished to own, but there was not necessarily a need to have them.

The reason I relate back to this article is because of its ability to help you market with emotional appeal. If I were to categorize X10 products by need or want, security systems and wireless cameras would more likely fall under the Product Need section, while home automation software, video senders, and the Video Calling System would fall under the Product Want section.

If I were to ask you now to create the best commercial for these products that you could come up with, how would you go about doing so? Chances are that with the products with a “need” you would appeal more to a serious side to your consumers and be very informative and descriptive, focusing on how to alleviate “pain”, while with the products with a “want” would probably be anything but serious. Maybe you’d use humor or be very creative, to try and sell these items.

Let’s say you are in the market for the new Protector Plus alarm system. What does the image below conjure up in your mind? Does it make you want to buy the system more that it did before?

Here’s another image to illustrate my point. Think about the image above with the burglar, now look at the image below:

Now how does it make you feel? Like most people with children, this would provide a sense of fright and fear and now you want to act to ensure your children’s safety. Chances are, you’re now more likely to purchase the alarm system than before you had seen these images.

This is an example of how businesses use emotional appeal to sell products. Keep in mind that emotional appeal isn’t all about negativity. It’s about emotions in general. If a product out there can make you feel happier than normal, find a way to bring that out to enhance your ability to sell.


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