“In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” begins a message on the SIPA member Ace Infoway site, “We take this moment to express our gratitude and support!”
With all the wonderful faces of Ace Infoway employees, it’s a powerful video. Marketing consultant Amy Africa once pleaded with us to use real faces from our businesses instead of canned ones, and you can see why. We respond to emotion, she said. “We have bartenders in our brain and they’re constantly mixing cocktails to become faster and smarter and more involved. We are not thinking machines that feel; we are feeling machines that think.”
Two years ago, at a SIPA Annual Conference, Rick Wilkes, OPIS director of marketing, talked about the importance of emotion in marketing.
“I think emotion is underrated in any kind of marketing, particularly with websites,” he said during a session titled Transforming Your Website into a New Prospect Magnet. “On the new OPIS site [and still today!] you see a refinery at sunset, and that’s the best a refinery is ever going to look. You’d be amazed in stock photography how many fuel places are within sunsets. It’s very soothing. So it’s a big bold image [and the words,] ‘Buy & sell oil & gas products with CONFIDENCE’—and the confidence is the emotional hook there.”
This was backed up by an article by Nick Hague, head of growth at B2B International: “A successful brand is based on a connection that includes trust and an emotional bond which fosters a long-term relationship. Indeed, with Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman finding that a whopping 95% of all purchase decisions are made subconsciously, it’s clear that B2B brands cannot afford to forget the importance of emotion.”
If emotion had value before the pandemic, it has only multiplied since. Last week I stumbled on a video posted by a bundled-up Wylecia Wiggs Harris, CEO of American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), standing in a park outside Chicago.
“Hi AHIMA members, this is Wylecia just checking in to see how all of you are doing… This is a period of uncertainty for all of us. And if we’re honest, there are fears and doubts and concerns that we’re all carrying. And yet the work that we do has never been more important. Know that AHIMA appreciates everything you are doing. We’re in this all together.”
Creating a New Vibe
Back in March and early April, many organizations moved quickly to build COVID-19 microsites to accompany their regular website. While many of those produced huge bumps in traffic, they also created a new vibe—we care about you, your health and how you are coping. Stephanie Williford of EB Medicine has talked about the pushback she got when their COVID site first appeared behind a paywall. They quickly moved it in front.
And, of course, EB Medicine is not alone. “PaperClip Communications knows how difficult and uncertain this time is, and we’re happy to offer these complimentary resources to help our colleagues during this crisis.” This appears on their homepage and then a very attractive resources page, where they list On-Demand Training, PDF Downloads, a Self-Care Calendar and Digital Newsletters.
It’s an emotional lift at a time when we all need it most.
“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing,” said the famous “Marketoonist” Tom Fishburne, quoted in an article on the site Instapage. They write: “Does it feel like marketing when you watch a poignant advertisement and connect emotionally with the subject? Does it feel like marketing when you read a genuine positive customer review of a kind waitstaff and great service?
“Emotional connections happen because we’re human, and we’re built for these connections, wired for them, and rely on them to live a rich, meaningful life. Despite our significant advances in science and technology, human emotion (mainly our subconscious) will always be core to our DNA. Marketing by appealing to raw and genuine human emotion is essential, smart, and pays off.”