ReTargeter Blog

Empty Emotional Promises – Part Two

This is the final installment of our two part guest series on empty emotional promises.  You can read the first post here.

Last week we went over the #1 emotional marketing mistake of all time: The Emotional Empty Promise.  OK, so now that you know what an Empty Emotional Promise is, how do you make a Solid Emotional Promise?

There are two steps…

First you find a REAL Point of Difference Benefit you can own—a feature you can highlight that nobody else in the market can point to.  Then you “ladder” the point of difference (asking prospects “what’s good about ______?”) until you discover what deep human need it fulfills.

Let’s take an example from a small business niche.  I used to sell a set of Audio CD Interviews all about how to get into the Alpaca Business for $197.  (Alpacas are very expensive and cuddly animals from Peru you can raise for profit.)  At the time I owned that business if you searched for “alpacas” or “raise alpacas” or “alpaca business” you’d find a lot of information about where they came from, how much they cost, and how to write a business plan.  Yet when I surveyed the market I found the most passionate people were frustrated because what they really needed to know was what the tax implications were for various situations, and how they could get started if they didn’t own any land.

Furthermore, you could find a lot of breeders who’d be happy to meet with you and answer your questions, but that required lots of phone calls, planning, and days upon days of driving from farm to farm before you had a solid grasp on the market.  So I organized a set of interviews with certified accountants who specialized in the alpaca industry, and I put the questions to them.

Now I was the only one in the market to offer this tax information without paying high consulting rates.  And I packaged it with breeder interviews so people wouldn’t have to drive from farm to farm.  So I had a real point of difference.

But what was the emotional benefit?

There are a lot of ways to get at this with very rich imagery and deeply held feeling, but the most practical for the novice interviewer is to simply ask “What’s good about that?” until the prospect arrives at a deep human need.

For example “What’s good about getting detailed tax advice from CPAs who specialize in the Alpaca industry?”  The prospect might say “Then I can actually determine how many alpacas I can afford to purchase to start with because I’ll know what deductions I can actually take.”

And I’d ask “What’s good about knowing how many alpacas you can afford to purchase and what deductions you can actually take?”  The prospect might say “Then I’ll feel financially secure when I write my business plan.”

And what’s good about that?

“Then I can feel good about my decision.”

When the prospect says “I feel good about myself” or “I feel good about my decision”, you know you’re at the end of the ladder.  It’s the answer just before the end which is the emotional benefit—in this case “feeling financially secure.”  So the emotional promise I need to make—with the mood and tone of my advertising, NOT by stating it directly—is a feeling of financial security.  That gets justified by the point of difference benefit we own “interviews with expert CPAs in the alpaca industry”.  We win the prospect because they believe WE can make them feel financially secure by providing them access to solid information from the alpaca CPAs.

Now the only piece you’re missing is how to identify real points of difference, or “market gaps” you can own.  It’s actually a lot simpler than you might think…There are ALWAYS gaps in a market, no matter how mature, competitive, and evolved that market might be. You’ve just got to know how to look.

One of my favorite ways is with a simple survey, but I’ve got to warn you that pretty much everyone uses surveys incorrectly online.  Most marketers think the point of a survey is to create a list of all the questions people have in the marketplace, but that’s only half the story.  If all you do is ask “What’s your most important question about ____” then you’re essentially just generating a list of FAQs.  And the problem with Frequently Asked Questions is that they’re also Frequently Answered Questions.

You’ve got to KNOW those answers to be considered in the running (they’re the price of entry)…But to actually SELL the prospect you need a POINT OF DIFFERENCE.

The solution lies in the fact that when people have trouble finding a solution in the marketplace they’re actually more likely to engage in surveys, which means you’ll get longer answers.  So one very simple thing you can do (I’ve got a slew of more sophisticated methods to get much more juice out of your surveys at the link I’ll share in a moment) is…

  • Export your “What’s your most important question” survey answers into an Excel sheet.
  • Create a column which represents the length of the answer next to the answer itself.
  • Sort by that length in descending order.
  • Then comb through the top 20% of answers (or if you’ve got thousands of responses, the top 20% of the top 20%) for the most common question.

For extra credit you can add a checkbox to your survey that says “check here if you’re having a particularly difficult time finding a solid answer or solution to this,” and then double the length score when it’s checked.  See where I’m going?

By just adding a simple measure of the level of market frustration associated with each survey answer, you quickly zero in on point of difference benefits you might be able to own.

Then ladder up to the emotional benefit, attach appropriate mood and tone (graphics, visuals, story, etc), and you’ve got the makings of a solid emotional marketing campaign!


About the Author:

Dr. Glenn Livingston is a clinical psychologist and marketing consultant to dozens of Fortune 500 companies.  Together with his wife Sharon, he’s founded three advertising companies and launched more than a dozen profitable markets of his own.



Case Study – Watters

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Watters is the brainchild of designer Vatana Watters. For over 30 years, it has been the leader in offering luxurious designer bridal gowns, innovative bridesmaids dresses, classic special occasion dresses for mothers of the wedding, and adorable dresses for flower girls and junior bridesmaids around the world. Selling primarily at trunk shows and in third-party […]

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