Regardless of what product or service you’re marketing, it’s vital to understand your audience—and understand what motivates them. The following seven appeals are the most common psychological strategies advertisers use to reach their target audience and persuade them to buy.
Emotional appeals. Emotional appeals are designed to make an audience associate positive feelings with your brand. These appeals generally focus on trust, joy, love, loyalty and happiness, which you can leverage through the use of powerful music and imagery. Think of GE’s “We bring good things to life.”
Fear appeals. Fear can appeal to people when a product or service is needed to help reduce risk in someone’s life – such as risk of financial failure, poor health issues, security of losing a home and even political choices. The emotion of fear can be used effectively as long as it is not to extreme or harsh – which may ultimately effect your brand. Therefore caution is in order. Think of BCAA Life Insurance’s “How would they get by without you?” campaign.
Humor appeals. Humor is often used in advertising. Why not? Who doesn’t like something that’s funny? Appealing to the comic sense in people can build brands – sometimes overnight. The challenge with humor however is to keep the brand in the humor – so your market associates the humor with your brand. Often it’s the humor that is remembered more than the product! Done right, making an audience laugh can lead to huge sales. How about Chikfila’s beef cows holding up their signs “Eat More Chicken.”
Musical appeals. Like humor, music is a great way for brands to get noticed and make an audience remember their products. In addition, musical appeals can bring up positive memories whenever someone hears a catchy tune in an ad, which goes a long way toward making them feel good about the product being presented. And don’t forget the options of licensing some great tunes from the past. Apple’s iPod got a huge lift with Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” (As did Jet!)
Rational appeals. While some products can effectively persuade consumers with tugs to the heart strings, other products demand a more rational approach, especially if the ad is used in a print medium. Rational appeals use logic, facts, and data to convince consumers to buy products, and are often found in advertisements for medications, cookware, and cleaning products. Fujii Golf’s new club, the RMX driver, uses much technical information to describe how it will get you longer shots.
Sexual appeals. From jeans to cars to cologne to hamburgers, appeals that rely on sex and romance are found in ads for numerous products. Although history has shown that sex does indeed sell—or at least gets attention—sexual appeals have been used so often that in some cases, using them may not pack the punch that marketers may expect. Although, the recent Old Spice deodorant’s “Smell Like A Man, Man” campaign lifted the dated brand to new levels – probably for years.
Scarcity appeals. Scarcity appeals tap into people’s fear of missing out, so they’re a great way to convince people to take advantage of a sale or a limited edition product. However, make sure that scarcity actually applies to what you’re selling: If you’re advertising a limited time offer, customers will notice if it goes on longer than advertised—and they may lose trust in your company’s promotions. Make sure a “sale’ is truly a “sale.”
Finally, certain appeals will only work for certain products – so remember what your brand stands for and whether the strategy truly fits your brand’s characteristics.