In one of my earlier posts, exploring the marketing journey from production to orbit, I discussed an issue I had with some of the metrics we use to measure success today. While the history of marketing thought has told us, time and again, that consumers make purchasing decisions based on a combination of rational and emotional triggers; the history of marketing practice has been measuring those decisions in a purely mathematical way: Big numbers. Big returns. Big data. The most likes. The most shares. The most impressions. The highest reach. Get my point?
Businesses today are looking for ways to create engagement, loyalty and long-term emotional bonds with their audiences. They’re talking about it and they genuinely want to succeed. But their key challenge is that the success measures are still the same and solely focused on numbers.
A good friend, and smart social business speaker, Sam Fiorella frequently discusses the reality that the only real measure of success for any business is profit. Sam suggests that independently of what field of marketing, branding or communications we are in; whether we work on business operations or on business communications, our mandate is to drive profit to the business’s bottom line. He’s right. In the end, a business that cannot make a profit will not likely survive, and certainly will not strive!
I would argue, however, that the journey to profit has significantly changed throughout recent history. There was a time when a low price was enough. There was also a time when peer pressure worked to convince a target to fulfill a transaction that would lead to some form of business profit. But today – in an era where mass individualization has taken over; where community is the word-du-jour; and, where the digital revolution provides information at lightning speed at the touch of a button – what you need is a little humanity.
If you haven’t yet read Bruce Philp’s Consumer Republic, you should! One of the most important take-aways I personally got from the book is that you shouldn’t buy everything and certainly not at any price. Your hard-earned money should only be spent on the things you really, really value. If consumers are reading this book, or thinking this way, a new challenge emerges for your business. How can you ensure that your product or service is really, really valued? (Are you sure about that?)
So, what do we know? Businesses want loyalty; they need profit; and consumers (might) only spend their money on what they really, really value. How can businesses succeed when consumers are less frivolous and much, much more discriminating with their dollars?
I’d like to propose some new math; math infused with humanity – where the constants and variables are personal. I’ll borrow a method I learned from another great author, Chip Conley. Chip has written many books, one of which – Emotional Equations – inspired the following few suggestions. In this book, Chip encourages us to develop our own emotional equations based on our experiences to help us understand the emotions of the moments we live through.
I’d like to propose that based on our career experiences, on our consumer experiences, and on the insights shared with us daily, we can create equations to demonstrate the value of heightening the emotional content of our brand, with integrity. And, I believe that by exploring this new kind of math – what I’ll call Motivational Marketing Math – we can start to trace the path our audience takes to connect with our brand, ultimately arriving at ROI for the brand and value for the audience.
Motivational Marketing Math:
Let’s start with just two equations I’d like to put forward to reinforce the importance of context, motivators and content.
Context + Motivators = Need or Want
Absolutely anything that an individual needs or wants stems from a combination of their current context and what motivates them. As a business, understanding these two addends is critical.
Context will give you a picture of your audience. This goes beyond traditional demographic data like age and marital status, and begins to look at family life, values and hobbies – each of which gives you clues about your audience’s communities.
Motivators, on the other hand, tell you what makes your audience tick. Most decisions a person makes, especially in terms of commerce, are tightly aligned to helping them achieve their goals.
Need or Want + ContentRelevance = Action
If the first step toward a purchase is that you actually must need/want something, then the second step is to find what you’re looking for. And, in this case, content is king.
As a business, you can’t control what your audience needs but you can influence how and where they find it. Going back to the first equation, you will discover your audience’s context and motivators (which triggered the desire). An additional benefit for you is that those addends provide the insight to make sure your content is relevant. The power of relevance exponentially connects your audience to your brand. Making content more powerful, you must use the information you discover in your audience’s context. If content is king, then surely, context is emperor.
Today, low price is not enough (though often welcomed). You have to be honest and answer these questions:
- Are you offering a solution to help your audience achieve their goal?
- Is your offer in line with your audience’s context?
- Will your audience really, really value your offer?
- What are the chances they’ll come back?
How can you answer these questions, create relationships and connect with audiences for the long term, all the while ensuring you will make a profit? Marc Gobé, Creator and Co-Founder of the Emotional Branding Alliance, offers the 10 Commandments of Emotional Branding.
The true marketing revolution will elevate the role of the business from making money to satisfying consumer needs and desires to making genuine contributions in their communities (local, national and global).