It’s the emotional connection, stupid!

Note, from Repman: Today's guest blog is a follow-up to yesterday's Super Bowl-inspired blog authored by Peppercomm's creative director, Jason Dodd. Today's guest author is cyclist par excellence and former financial journalist Matt Purdue. Matt takes great exception to one uniformed reader's take on Jason's original blog. Hey, this is getting better than the game itself! Gentlemen (and readers): remember to protect yourselves at all times.

RoitttToday's guest post is by Peppercommer Matt Purdue.

My colleague and friend Jason Dodd wrote a Repman post the other day about the importance of good companies telling great stories. He pointed to memorable Super Bowl commercials from Budweiser and Dodge trucks as examples of superlative storytelling – commercials that had little to do with drinking beer or driving trucks.
Admittedly, I am biased in favor of Jason and his argument. But a commenter, Tedbirk94, raises a great point that bears repeating:
"I'm not buying what you're selling, JD. Yes, these ads were good examples of storytelling in 60 seconds or less, but what net result will these brands derive out of their investment? Will they sell more beer or cars? Will they build great visibility and trust with the consumer? Show me these numbers and then we can judge their effectiveness."
These are fair questions. In essence, will great stories help Budweiser and Dodge boost sales in February? Fair questions, yes, but I think Tedbirk94 is missing the crux.
To take up where Jason Dodd left off, companies tell great stories not just to sell products, but to make an emotional connection – and many companies, especially companies that DON’T touch retail consumers on a regular basis, have much to learn from them. For decades, behavioral psychologists have known that emotions play a huge role in the decisions that human beings make on a daily basis – even so-called rational business decisions.
Don’t believe me? Try this little test. If you want to buy a pick-up truck, which three makes should you research? I bet you said Dodge, Chevy and Ford. Why? Because over decades, these three companies have poured billions of marketing dollars into making emotional connections with consumers. Ram tough. Built Ford tough. Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. I bet you did NOT mention the makes that hold spots #4-#7 in the latest pick-up truck sales table: GMC, Toyota and Nissan.
Now try another test: If you want to buy accounting software for your small or mid-size business, which three brands should you research? Could you name even one? Maybe QuickBooks? But what about Sage and AccountEdge? I’m not picking on these companies, but, in essence, in our society as a whole, shouldn’t the software that keeps a business running be more important to us than a pick-up truck? Yet the average consumer has absolutely no emotional connection with accounting software.
In an era when companies are finding it harder and harder to differentiate themselves from competitors, great storytelling is no longer an option. Brands like Dodge do it to keep up with their rivals. But millions of other companies could benefit from it, as well.

4 thoughts on “It’s the emotional connection, stupid!

  1. Hello again, Tedbirk. Well, the numbers are in. Chrysler Group LLC, which makes Dodge Ram trucks, just reported its best Feb. sales since 2008. Ram truck sales were up 3 percent, their best Feb. sales since 2007. Of course, it’s hard to draw a cause-effect between one Super Bowl ad and overall sales–but I’d really like to hear your reaction.

  2. I agree with you, Matt. Measurement-focused guys like Tedb lack the emotional synapse to understand the importance of making an emotional connection in storytelling. They’re all about the bottom-line.

  3. Thank you for your comment. I think we are on the same page: great storytelling is important to building brands. Always has been, and always will be. The Ford F Series pickups have been the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. for decades…despite the fact that full-size pickups, as a whole, are terribly unreliable, according to Consumer Reports. So what drives Ford’s sales? Many things, but one of them, I argue, is the emotional appeal consumers have with their trucks.
    More companies need to understand that this emotional appeal creates raving fans among consumers.
    And I guarantee you that when we look at the Feb. sales figures, we will see a bump in Dodge truck sales.

  4. How am I missing the point? Do you think the CMO of any of these companies doesn’t think about the questions I raised? What about the CEO and CFO? Do you think they’re not interested in these KPIs?
    I agree that great storytelling is important to building brands; I am just not convinced that the spots referenced in JD’s blog will accomplish that and, thus, will fail to translate into success.
    Matt, you sound like an old advertising executive defending his shrinking turf. I realize I am probably more cynical than the average consumer, but I feel the 30 second spot is shallow at best and disingenuous at worst.
    As I said previously, I am not buying what you (or these brands) are selling.