Transcript lightly edited for clarity
I was at an antique mall with my wife a few years ago, and what I always do is go to the book section. I’m always trying to find an interesting book to read and I came across this book called The Magical Power of Emotional Appeals. It is a very old book, published in the 1960s. But when I read that particular book, it had some incredibly powerful lessons that I would really like to share with you.
The concept basically says that we are all too busy. We can talk about multitasking, but in reality our brains are not capable of multitasking. We are mostly focused on one thing and have a transition time that actually happens to get to the next task.
My wife often says that I have selective hearing. For me it really means the fact that I’m very focused and he can talk to me but I can’t hear him. So this book really tried to talk about that. It addresses the questions of what my wife could say to me that would take me out of what I was doing and make me listen to what she had to say.
Effectively, when it comes to entrepreneurship, it’s a very powerful tool to pull someone out of their busyness and draw them in to give you their undivided attention. There are four emotional appeals that come from that particular book
The first is related to money. Whether it’s getting rich quick, making more money, or simply saving money, it doesn’t really matter. It is mainly focused on some type of monetary gain. When someone hears something about money, they generally withdraw mentally from what they are doing because everyone is interested in money.
You see them all the time in the usual buy one get one ads. Or “I lost my dog,” no one cares, but if you say “dog reward,” people might pay attention.
One tool that I use quite frankly, and it’s been very successful for me, is when I’m doing a trade show. Often I really try to get people’s attention as they walk by my booth, or in other cases, maybe there’s a small group of people standing in front of my booth chatting. Since they don’t really talk to me, I want to get their attention. if nothing else, I just want them to move forward so people feel more comfortable walking into my booth. What I will always do when I go to a trade show is have a wad full of coins in my pocket. What I end up doing is throwing a bunch of coins on the floor. Immediately I can tell the conversation stops and they all turn to look at me. Then I say: “Hey, let me tell you about my product…” I immediately join the conversation. That’s the power of money as an emotional appeal.
The other is self-preservation. We’ve all had those situations where we might be sitting busy or something and maybe an amber alert comes on. Boom, it immediately catches our attention. Or sometimes there’s something like a shooting in the news. Boom, your attention is drawn to see if the shooter is nearby. Even things like religion, for example, are based on the premise of self-preservation. Although it may not be in this particular life, it may be in the next life. A situation today where, for example, Preppers are preparing for the possibility of societal collapse. It’s very common these days, and it’s all based on the whole concept of self-preservation.
The third emotional appeal is called recognition. When you recognize someone’s achievement, you get their attention. Be it at an awards show or just about anything. One of the most obvious to me is Mary Kay. If you ever see a good saleswoman from Mary Kay, she’ll be driving a pink Cadillac. They drive around town and that’s the most important thing for recognition.
I remember a story from The Pursuit of Excellence, one of the first business books I ever read when I first became a manager, written by Tom Peters. He spoke of a situation in a factory where the managers of this factory were trying to instill in their workers a desire to create more products during the day. I can’t remember exact numbers, but let’s say they produced eight of these widgets during the day shift. So at the end of their shift, the day manager took a big piece of chalk and they wrote the number eight on the walkway where you come in. People entering the night shift looked at that eight and said what it was about. They were told that the day shift made so many widgets today. The next day, when the day shift showed up for work, they found the eight all scratched and the big nine.
It’s the power of knowing that suddenly the night shift will do more. Then the day shift even wanted to come in and produce ten that day. So again, that recognition value is a very, very powerful emotional appeal.
The last of those emotional appeals is romance. Okay, you see this all over, especially at the bottom of news articles. Often you will see these things like “How to look younger” or “How to lose weight”, all of these things are related to you trying to look better for the opposite sex.
Whether it’s a testosterone booster of some kind that will increase your virility as a man or whatever. Even more attractive political candidates get more votes than less attractive ones. We are busy with romance.
I want to share a story that resonates with me about one of the most successful jewel thieves of all time. She was actually a woman. She was a rather crazy woman who was going to a jewelry store in a dress with a very low slit. She would choose her mark, which was always a male salesperson. He always had a fake piece of jewelry in his hand, and he told the seller that he was interested in it. As she pointed, she made it a point to bend over so the seller could see her cleavage. She knew that was where his attention was, and while she looked down at her dress, she took what she had in her hand and placed it in the box, pulling out the real piece of jewelry.
It’s the only time he’s ever been caught there. To be honest, that was when the seller was in terrible pain. I can’t remember if it was a backache or a toothache or something and he just couldn’t pay attention and he didn’t respond to her sexpal. As a result, he actually saw her make the exchange, and that’s how she ended up getting caught.
So I think you know, as any entrepreneur, if you can engage one of those four emotional appeals. Be it money. whether it’s self-preservation, some form of recognition, or some romance in your marketing situation, your marketing efforts will get a lot more attention because you’ll actually be able to get the other person’s attention.
Related post: How to get people to stop and take notice with emotional appeals
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