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In Content Marketing, 'People Buy on Emotion and Rationalize With Logic' Is a Mistake (Pt. 2)

by Catherine Sherlock  |  
August 19, 2013

Last week, in Part 1, we began to examine how emotion and logic operate in the buying cycle, and we covered what sort of content to produce for the Awareness stage. This week, the remaining four stages of the buying cycle...

Stage 2: Interest

During the Interest stage of your buying cycle, people are beginning to recognize a need for your product or service. They're aware of a problem or opportunity and the potential for a solution.

Now aware of an issue, they're are willing to spend a little more time. Thus, your content can be a little longer.

At this stage, you start building relationships with people. The need for emotional content is still high, but the need for logical content starts to build. You want content that engages rather than sells. In storytelling language, this is where you're starting to build the story of who you are—fleshing out your personality and your values.

That said, simple, inexpensive purchases won't require a lot of logic to back them up. The aforementioned Red Bull marketing is an example. By themselves, each Red Bull gives you wings video functions to get your attention. As a whole, the series of videos functions to reinforce the Interest stage.

However, chances are that if you're selling B2B, you'll need more logic in your materials. We'll discuss the reasons under the Evaluation stage.

Stage 3: Evaluation—Ramping Up the Logic

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Catherine Sherlock (Sherlock Ink) is a communications professional and sustainability (CSR) strategist who revels in working with companies seeking to make the world a better place. Her specialties include storytelling, content marketing, and purpose-based consulting. Contact her for a complimentary consultation on your content or sustainability strategy.

LinkedIn: Catherine Sherlock

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  • by Randy Milanovic Mon Aug 19, 2013 via iphone

    Converting prospects into fans is an amazing accomplishment.

  • by Catherine Sherlock Mon Aug 19, 2013 via web

    For sure, Randy - and, of course, the marketing is secondary to providing good products and services to do that.

  • by Tamar Wed Aug 21, 2013 via web

    Hi Catherine,
    Very nice chart of the sales cycle, and I especially like your inclusion of the stage of loyalty. The real challenge is to give prospects this information while they are interested and engaged on your website in real-time. Fortunately, technology exists for these top-funnel anonymous prospects. Tamar, Insightera

  • by Catherine Sherlock Wed Aug 21, 2013 via web

    Thanks, Tamar.

    Engaging prospects in real time definitely is the challenge - having good content is the way to keep people engaged and interested.

  • by James Clouser Thu Aug 22, 2013 via web


    Congrats on all your research and great work here...

    ... and for taking some flack on the last article.

    I truly believe that if you don't upset someone by noon each day, you're not saying anything worth saying.

    Great info. Thanks again,

  • by Catherine Sherlock Fri Aug 23, 2013 via web

    Hi James,

    Thanks for your comments. Flack is good - keeps us thinking and growing! It's great to have conversations and ideas shared.

    All the best!

  • by Gracious Store Fri Aug 23, 2013 via web

    One of the characteristics of a good content is to help prospects make a buying decision, help your prospects not only to see their needs but to take step to fulfill those need by making purchasing decision

  • by Catherine Sherlock Fri Aug 23, 2013 via web

    Welcome back, Gracious Store.

    I'd agree and say that becoming a trusted source of information for people making purchasing decisions makes you a thought leader in your industry.

  • by Michael Harris Wed Oct 21, 2015 via web

    After doing research for my HBR article “When to Sell with Facts and Figures, and When to Appeal to Emotions,” people buy on emotions and justify with logic is more complicated than it initially seems. We buy most often subconsciously, communicate that decision to the conscious mind and then justify with logic.

    You could say “so what, who cares?” But did you know that 95% of our purchase decisions, according to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, take place unconsciously? And yet, when we seek to persuade c-level executives, we sell almost exclusively to Mr. Rational, because we think emotions are goofy and not serious. But In recent years, psychologists and behavioral economists have shown that our emotional decisions are neither irrational nor irresponsible. In fact, we now understand that our unconscious decisions follow a logic of their own. They are based on a deeply empirical mental processing system that is capable of effortlessly processing millions of bits of data without getting overwhelmed. Our conscious mind, on the other hand, has a strict bottleneck, because it can only process three or four new pieces of information at a time due to the limitations of our working memory.

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