Remember Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign? It ran from 1997 to 2002. Now, that kind of run may happen often on Broadway but not in the ad world. However, we still easily remember the 10-year-old campaign. That certainly attests to its sticking power!
So, why were the Apple ads so successful? Yes, they featured portraits of famous people, but so have lots of short-run campaigns. The difference is that Apple's ads connected with us emotionally. Using a simple yet inspiring design that featured a world-famous change-maker, each ad communicated deeply felt beliefs that resonated with “the rest of us.”
It’s emotion, not reason, that powers our decisions to act. The science behind this is where we move beyond creative agency backrooms into the realm of biology, of brain science.
The Brain, Emotion, and Buying Connection
In regards to intellect versus emotion, our brains are hardwired to give emotions the upper hand. Information---in the form of words and data---is processed in the neo-cortex.
Meanwhile, all our emotions are rooted in the limbic system. The limbic brain is where we sense our emotional attachments, such as trust and loyalty. It’s the part of our brain that knows whether something is important to us. And it’s the place that motivates us to take action or not.
As communicators, we can benefit from knowing that. Now, we know where we need to connect to reach our audience in a meaningful way.
But here’s the catch: The limbic brain has no capacity for language. That means no amount of information can motivate someone to buy.
The rational neo-cortex and the emotional limbic system do communicate with each other. But in the end, reasoning does not drive behavior. It’s the limbic brain that initiates the human “call to action.”
How’s this for a shocker: We were never designed to listen to reason. For years, neuroscientists have studied people’s brain activation patterns to understand how our brains work. Scientists all agree: When taking action, people quickly reach conclusions based on emotional reactions, then find facts later to support what they’ve decided.
Touching Emotional Chords in B2B Content
When we create business content, a certain amount of professionalism is called for. But to be persuasive, emotional connection is an absolute necessity.
Let’s use the “Think Different” campaign as an example. Apple used the metaphor of positive change-makers to communicate its brand. Those of us who identified with the values that those change-makers represented felt an emotional connection to those ads. And, by association, we felt more positively about Apple for being a company that associated itself with those positive people.
That concept is well-supported by study after study. Whether we’re even conscious of it, we all organize our cognitive world into stories and use metaphors to understand situations, generate predictions, solve problems, anticipate events, and make plans.
One of the many neuroscientists studying the brain and decision-making is MIT professor Gary Klein. Like his colleagues, he uses brain scanners to pinpoint where decisions are made in the brain. His research concurs with other researchers: The source of decisions is not in the analytical regions of the brain. It’s in the limbic region, where intuition, metaphor, and storytelling are the real drivers of decisions.
Want to generate more clicks and calls? Use stories and metaphors to connect with your audience.
Start “thinking different” about your content and create emotional attachments with your audience. Whenever you use words to communicate, create image-rich stories and metaphors that are authentic to your brand and have emotional meaning to your audience.
Don’t let your B2B category get in the way. No matter what you’re selling, your audience is not made up of “business professional buyers.” Your customers are---regardless of their job title---still very human.