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Author: mkilmurry

Why are emotional appeals so successful?

Emotional appeals in advertising work because consumers feel before they think. Emotional marketing addresses immediate wants and helps overcome skepticism. It’s a known fact that emotionally based campaigns outperform rationally based campaigns, as much as double, in all the metrics that count – sales, market share, profit. Even in business categories that many would assume are rational, such as computers and financial services, people still go with their gut feelings first.

What is a brand?

A brand consists of the things you’ve learned throughout your life – thoughts; pictures and colors; statistics; experiences you’ve both had and not had; smells and tastes; comfort; and speech and everything else – all wrapped into a single emotional experience. All those things and more make up a brand.  Humans are simply unable to process all the information we receive in a rational way at the time of decision.  As a result, our minds compensate by giving us a lifetime summary that enables us say yes or no.  On a daily basis, we make the vast majority of our decisions through these gut feelings, often time leaving behind our better judgment.  This manner of decision making is most popularly characterized by buyer’s remorse, which often follows an emotional decision.

Ralph Crosby, founder of Crosby Marketing Communications in Annapolis, Maryland provided with my first understanding of what makes a brand.  I arrived fresh from selling my tech startup company that specialized in digital marketing.  In the previous six years, I helped a wide range of companies achieve online success through search engine optimization, pay-per-click and online display. Crosby was transitioning from traditional marketing to a world of digital marketing. I was convinced Crosby had it all wrong because of my several years of digital marketing experience.  I thought I knew everything.

Ralph soon developed the habit of calling me to his office.  He was interested in this new form of marketing, and as a wordsmith, wanted to develop a set of terminology unique to the industry.  I clearly remember getting that first invite via email, convinced it would only be a matter of time before the side of the building read Crosby and Kilmurry Marketing.

While I never achieved partnership, the experience gifted me in so many wonderful ways.

Ralph commanded a room.  I don’t know whether it was his collective years of experience swirling around him that made every encounter seem heavy or whether it was simply his perfunctory nature.  A fifteen-minute meeting with Ralph meant fifteen minutes only.  When I walked through his door into his corner office overlooking Annapolis, all confidence drained away.  Those visits seemed like trips in a canoe on a white-water river.  You crawled in and just hoped for the best.

Meetings with Ralph ended up being some of my best experiences at Crosby.  After the first few, I finally mustered up the courage to explain, based on my experience, the differences between the free and paid listings in search engines and why a company like Google was exploding onto the market.  He listened carefully and always had new questions at our next discussion.

My view of marketing was myopic.  Everything I knew revolved solely around website analytics.  But I was missing the bigger picture.  It was Ralph who first explained the difference between rational and emotional marketing.  I saw firsthand the power of emotional marketing over the next several years.

Brands are a permanent fixture in our culture

Achieving, managing and growing a brand is a concept now accepted by both CEOs and checkout counter clerks alike.  Brands have exploded on the scene and have become the watch word for our consumer culture. You can easily think of dozens of brands that are a part of your daily life. Many of us display them with pride on our clothes and the cars we drive. You may have also been through brand training as part of your work life. Companies are now requiring it for new employees and, more frequently, as refreshers every year of employment.

So, as Catholic Christians, what can we learn from brands?  Do we push them aside because of their secular concepts or are there practical applications to be used by us as followers of Christ?

First, it’s important to note that brands has always been around.  There is no person or organization that comes close to the success achieved by Jesus and the Catholic Church He established. Of course along with Jesus came the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit guiding and empowering – now that’s something Steve Jobs and Apple would have killed for!

Becoming a Catholic Christian brand evangelist

Over the last 100 years, companies have started to understand the benefit of creating a brand, something we as Catholics have known for 2,000 years.  They have spent years of research and boatloads of money defining themselves. One of the most important aspects of creating a brand is developing a mission statement, which is a short, concise statement on what the company believes and how they plan on accomplishing their mission. Sound familiar? As Catholics, we recite something similar each Sunday when we say the creed. Just as Catholics need the Church to hand them a set of beliefs in which to operate, employees need companies to hand them a brand they can trust and use on a daily basis in order to be successful. Conversely, companies need employees to buy into the brand with exceptional enthusiasm and a willingness to implement in every facet of their daily work lives. If the employees do not, the brand will fall terribly flat.

And so it is also true with the Catholic brand.

But be encouraged!  Unlike new employees in a company that get just one day of brand training with handouts and a PowerPoint during orientation, Catholics have available some of the most time-tested training material ever created.  And more than that, we have a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength, knowledge and power to be who God intended us to be.  All we have to do is be willing.  Boy, if only all jobs came with supernatural help like that!