Phil’s post about how we as humans don’t really have a choice as to whether or not we gravitate towards a well-told story got me thinking a lot about the decisions we make. For the record, I think he’s right. There is something within us that becomes engaged when we hear a good story. It ignites our emotions and takes over our thoughts.
I remember movies I watched over fifteen years ago because there was something in them that spoke to me. And at the same time, I’ve seen movies within this past month that I can’t remember at all because they were hollow. Why is that?
Emotional engagement is a heck of a thing. In fact, it’s the best way to get somebody on board with you, whether you want them to embrace your brand, work toward your vision for your company or buy your product. Or if you are a terrible, devious person, you can influence someone to make detrimental decisions in their lives in a desperate attempt to keep you happy so you won’t leave them (I’m looking at you, Rachael. I’m onto your game and you don’t control me anymore!). If you have an emotionally engaging message, people will be drawn to it and they will be more likely to do what you want.
I think this oddly-named web comic perfectly summarizes how people operate. It is so difficult to change your mind about something if your emotions have already been swayed.
Last month I saw a nice 4K TV on sale. I wanted to buy it, but I knew it was financially irresponsible, so I didn’t. After I had gone home, I was watching my perfectly fine HD TV and the thought popped into my head, “It’s not 4K…”
“You don’t need 4K yet. Almost everything you watch is still only broadcast or streamed in 1080,” my logic said.
“But I want it,” my emotions retorted.
“It costs a lot of money. Besides, if you wait, you’ll get a better TV than the one you saw, and at a cheaper price,” my logic reasoned.
“But I want it,” my emotions replied.
“There is literally no reason to go spend that much money to replace something that works perfectly fine!” my logic cried.
“But I want it.”
This went on for days after I saw that TV. Luckily, in this case, my logic triumphed and I didn’t buy the TV. But the fact that it was so difficult to tell myself no when the only reason my emotions had was, “I want it,” is a testament to how powerful our emotions are when it comes to decision making. I was so close to caving in when there was no reason to do so.
We are not logical creatures. We are emotional ones. There almost seems to be a constant battle between the two. And more often than not, emotion wins. When was the last time you showed off a very reasonable and logical purchase of toilet paper to your friends because it was on sale? How about the last time you showed of that new car/TV/computer/cell phone/pair of shoes that you didn’t really need, but you went ahead and splurged on it anyway?
That’s part of the reason emotions win. Logic isn’t exciting. Emotions are. Now don’t get me wrong, facts are important and have a place, but they get people to think. When people think, they rationalize and they might not end up where you want them to end up. If you’re selling a product, they may think, “Yes I could use that product, but your product might not be the best for me.”
Meanwhile, by engaging someone’s emotions with effective messaging, you excite them. You give them feelings and desires that they associate with you. Other organizations didn’t give them that feeling. You did. This is a big part of why Apple has such a die-hard fan base who will buy whatever they turn out, regardless of whether or not it’s the best (take it easy, Apple fans. I’m not saying Apple products aren’t great. They are. Overpriced, but great.). Apple cultivated emotions associated with their products. It’s not an easy thing to do but it is a very important thing to do.