A Valentine’s Day Lesson in Emotion-Driven Marketing: Five Key Emotions to Move Your Audiences

Woman holding a heart-shaped piece of paper and text that says, "Valentine's Day: A Lesson in Emotion-Driven Marketing

A Valentine’s Day Lesson in Emotion-Driven Marketing: Five Key Emotions to Move Your Audiences

Valentine’s Day is drenched in human emotion. For one day a year, we celebrate love like it’s going out of style—and marketers take full advantage. On average, this Valentine’s Day consumers will spend $23.9 billion on an evening out, flowers, jewelry and candy. By appealing to our softer side, businesses will have us willingly opening our wallets and emptying our bank accounts, all in the name of that ever-powerful four-letter word.

Lucky for marketers, human emotion doesn’t just impact a consumer’s buying decisions on Valentine’s Day. Here are five key emotional triggers you can use to sweeten the deal 365 days a year.

1. Belonging

If one thing is true on Valentine’s Day, it’s that most people don’t want to spend the holiday alone. But that innate need to belong extends far beyond romantic relationships. The truth is, we’re compelled to buy products and services that align with our values and interests from businesses that share our values and interests. Die-hard Wisconsin Badgers fan (like I am)? I imagine your closet is a sea of red and white. Big Dave Matthews Band follower? You’re likely sporting a “fire dancer” window sticker on your vehicle. Advocate for the environment? I bet fuel efficiency motivated your last vehicle purchase. Whatever it is that tops a consumer’s list, the need to feel that sense of comradery has likely convinced all of us to shell out a few extra dollars at one point or another. If you’re using emotion to sell, offering an opportunity to belong is a great place to start.

2. Fear

While a sense of belonging has a profound impact on buying decisions, more powerful yet is fear. The trick is finding the balance between igniting enough fear in your audience to encourage impulsivity, while not coming off as overly threatening. Wondering where to begin? Remind them of something they can’t live without. For millennials, it’s all about experiences. In fact, 69% of millennials have a very real fear of missing out (otherwise known as FOMO). And when that same group of people also tends to make over half of their purchases online, a fear-evoking social media ad could be all it takes to encourage a quick buying decision. Add a time-sensitive offer to your post, and you’ve just served up marketing gold.

3. Competition

What else drives a millennial to make impulse purchases? The need to compete. But this status-driven decision making isn’t unique to one generation. The desire to feel superior (or at least avoid feeling inferior) is present in all of us at some level. Take Valentine’s Day for example. Chocolate and flowers are popular gifts, but as the saying goes, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. When it comes to your product or service, a consumer is going to consider how it makes them feel special among their friends, colleagues and even strangers. So, what is going to make your offering the Cadillac among competitors? How can you provide “white glove” service that establishes your brand as elite? Find out what differentiates you from the pack and you’ll inevitably do the same for your customer.

4. Trust

Making a consumer feel superior is good. Making them feel secure is even better. Trust is the all-important foundation of any relationship, and in a business relationship, it’s paramount. Listing off the features and benefits of your product or service might build interest, but without a sincere, emotional connection, it won’t build the trust necessary to make a sale. Go beyond the features and benefits. Speak to your company’s history. Mentioning where you got your start is a great way to demonstrate humility, point out your longevity in the industry and showcase the volume of work you’ve completed for other customers. And the real reputation booster? Testimonials. Let your trustworthiness shine through the accolades and recommendations of those who’ve already benefited from what you have to offer.

5. Time

Perhaps the greatest emotional motivator of all is the promise of more time. Life is short. People want to spend it doing more of what they love and less of what they don’t. Meal kit delivery services are offering affordable ways to cook fresh and wholesome meals in 30 minutes or less. Robotic vacuums automate the cleaning process. Marketing agencies offload time-consuming creative tasks from businesses whose resources are stretched thin. How can you demonstrate that your product or service will add more time to someone’s day? How can you provide them with an alternative to something they’re already doing to make it more enjoyable? The general consensus is that time-consuming tasks are bad, and immediate gratification is good. Give someone the invaluable gift of time, and you may just have a customer for life.

Yes, the emotion-filled advertisements, direct mail and social media posts leading up to this day will send billions into a spending frenzy, but these marketing tactics shouldn’t be reserved for just one day a year. With the right messaging and the right amount of creativity, you have the power to make your audience feel. And if you can make them feel, chances are, you can make them buy.

We’d love to hear from you! Tell us how emotion plays into your selling (and buying) decisions. Do you have an example of how using emotion helped your product or service resonate with buyers in the past?

With over 12 years of experience supporting marketing initiatives and creating engaging content for a variety of audiences and industries, Jess Lisbeth has mastered the art of versatility. Her portfolio spans promotional, academic and educational writing and strategizing, including direct mail, advertisements, press releases, whitepapers, blogs, newsletters and even instructional design.