Emotional appeal

Emotion can be the key in the pitch to convince consumers to buy your product.

“You can persuade with reason, but you motivate with emotion,” says Fred Bidwell, president of Malone Advertising in Akron.

Bidwell says that while buyers consider things such as price when making a purchase, emotion can be the thing that tips the scales.

“There are lots of good competitive products out there in every category, and the rational reasons to buy them are about the same,” Bidwell says. “The tiebreaker is really emotion. It’s the way people ultimately make decisions, on pure emotion.”

Bidwell cites Polaris, a Malone client, as an example.

“How much rational reason is involved in buying a snowmobile?” he says. “It’s all about speed. It’s about freedom. It’s all about escaping from the rational part of life and experiencing the irrational part of life.”

Malone Advertising, with a gross income of about $6.5 million, employs 75 people in Akron, Raleigh, N.C., Philadelphia and Los Angeles, with the bulk of employees based at the Akron headquarters.

The agency uses emotion to catch consumers’ attention and to make its clients’ names and products stick in their minds.

For Kimberly Clark product Huggies diapers, Malone creates in-store baby derbies. The events pull in parents, salespeople and retailers, who know the events draw in customers and help sell more products.

Malone’s campaign for SuperTrapp, the original manufacturer of tuneable disc exhaust systems for high-end motorcycles, appeals to those who dress conservatively for work, then release their inner biker dude or motorcycle mama on the weekends.

Creating an emotional connection even works at the business-to-business level, says director of marketing Fred Siegel. For example, instead of calling parts by serial numbers, Malone client Goodyear dubbed its line of hose and belt products “Gatorback,” creating an image in the buyer’s mind.

Using emotion moves the product to the top of your mind,” Siegel says. “It brings it further up the list and makes it easier to remember. Someone will think, ‘We need another Gatorback’ instead of thinking, ‘We need another 54321’ (in reference to another brand).”

Bidwell says that whether the ad is for a serious issue, such as Malone’s Race for the Cure campaign in conjunction with Ross Laboratories, or a fun issue, like making doughnuts in the snow with a snowmobile, it’s all about emotion.

“This is the way we communicate, through emotion and friendship,” he says.

And although emotion has always been used in advertising, the way it’s used has changed, Bidwell says.

“Consumers today are much more sophisticated and less likely to be exploited through the crude use of emotion,” Bidwell says. “They’re on to advertising. A purely sentimental appeal is probably dealt with with a little more cynicism today.”

Bidwell says that every company, from a multinational corporation to a mom-and-pop store, can use emotion to create interest and draw the consumer in.

“Some of the best local ads I’ve seen by small businesses feature the owner,” he says. “They’re not slick, but they say, ‘I live in the community, these people are my friends.’ That’s one of the most convincing” ways to attract people to your product.

“If you can be genuine and speak to trust and confidence convincingly, you win.” How to reach: Malone Advertising, (330) 376-6148 or www.malonead.com

Sue Ostrowski ([email protected]) is an associate editor for SBN Magazine.