Let BizEngine hit you with a hypothetical scenario.
Let’s say you’re in the grocery store. You’ve had a miserable day at the office, your bills are overdue, and you’re stressed and unhappy at the moment. You shop for everything on your list, but you linger at the potato chip aisle when making your buying decisions. Before you know it, you’ve thrown two bags of chips and a jar of dip into your basket, which you’ll promptly devour when you get home.
Did you grab those chips based on some rational decision? No, although halfway through the second bag you’ll undoubtedly justify it to yourself by mentally going through your terrible day. You made that split second decision based on raw emotion, the single most powerful motivator for our buying decisions.
The close relationship between what we buy and how we feel has implications for businesses. I’m no brilliant Ivy League researcher—I know you’re stunned to hear that—but I want to spend a few paragraphs exploring that relationship.
Last week we talked a little about wefeelfine.org, the endlessly entertaining site that collects Tweets and other emotional statuses into a cloud of moving dots that you can explore. It’s worth looking at merely for the entertainment value, but there’s potential to use this as a way to explore visceral reactions to various stimuli, including businesses.
You may not find your niche on We Feel Fine, which is fine. But there’s value to talking to your customers, finding out where their emotional needle is tilting toward. How are they feeling? What are they buying when they come in on top of the world or lower than a snake’s belly? What kind of products, services and customer appreciation make them feel good, and does that affect your sales?
It takes time to do this, an understanding of your customers, and you want to be careful not to turn this into some sort of creepy database on your customers’ emotions. It’s more so you can adjust the way you do business to better capitalize on an emotional response, whether that’s something as simple as knowing which e-mail marketing messages are going to anger your customers or as complex as knowing what the Consumer family tends to buy when they’re eagerly anticipating the weekend.
Flipping The Emotional Table
After you’ve explored how your customers act on their emotions, you should turn that around on yourself and those who work for you.
Again, the point is not necessarily to build a comprehensive future of your employees—that’s a tad 1984-ish for my tastes. But it helps to know what makes your employees happy and focused, and indeed recognize why you make the decisions you do on a daily basis.
It also helps you to circle back to your customers. As the article I linked above notes, people will respond to you better if you’re cheerful, seem trustworthy and know your stuff. You need to appeal to them at an emotional level rather than a purely rational one, because the truth is that very few decisions are made by people who are deliberately and logically thinking their way through them. It’s a lesson well-learned for any business.
We’ll have at least one more article on this topic in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, please discuss the links between business and emotion and what themes you’d like to see explored in future posts.
Photo credit to jvangalen at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1196982