Our brain makes us believe we buy for logical reasons but, in fact, most of our decisions are driven by emotions.
That’s a useful bit of information if you’re hoping to energise your online sales. Funnily enough, it’s a useful bit of information that often gets ignored.
If you have just launched a brand new online store or kicked off a print on demand business and need to get your sales into higher gear, look no further. I will show you how to leverage six powerful emotions to drive your community sales.
Understand your community’s beliefs
Let’s start by saying that community is not a marketplace.
As human beings, we are social creatures and we’re simply using the internet as a handy tool to connect with those similar to us. That’s how we are wired and that’s also how online communities grow over time - by expanding the network of like-minded people that share the same values, motivations and beliefs.
Really rather basic. Or is it?
One of the most common mistakes business people make is trying to approach online audiences from all sorts of wrong angles, looking at them merely as prospects, rather than seeing them as real people behind the buyer personas.
There is no magic bullet to force or accelerate the growth of an online community, you can only leverage what you know about it to attract more like-minded people and then cater to their needs. But knowing your community’s needs and preferences as well as understanding their pains and motivations gives you a unique opportunity to help them achieve what they’re seeking and, at the same time, make money from it. That’s why it’s called online monetization. It’s not a business, it’s just a way of doing business with people that buy into what you do before buying from you.
There are numerous clever strategies to online community monetization, however, none of them will yield any profit if you don’t understand what makes your community tick. Ensure you keep the conversation with your community flowing at all times to figure out how you can help them get where they’re going. Know thy people, as they say.
How emotions influence what we buy?
Any psychologist would tell you that rational selling almost always leads to analysis paralysis, especially when it comes to complex or expensive products and services.
However, we find it extremely tough to imagine that our potential customers would make buying decisions based on emotion. That’s because when we look back at our purchase history, our conscious mind makes up all kinds of rational excuses to justify what we bought: “It would have been silly not to use the discount”, “It was expensive, but it will serve me for a long time”, “It’s an investment in the future”, and so on. For some reason, we tend to view our emotional decisions as irrational, irresponsible and sometimes even embarrassing. That’s why so many sales people practice rational selling and end up with leads that go cold.
The reality is much different. Almost all the decisions we make are influenced by emotions from previous, related experiences, which create preferences and subconsciously determine our choices. While we use the rational mind to assess and compare all available options, we rely on how we feel about something to make the final decision.
- Advertising research shows that “likability” is the one single measure that can best predict whether an ad will increase a brand’s sales.
- Research also reveals that consumers perceive the same type of personality characteristics in brands as they do in people. Naturally, they’re attracted to some brands more than others (just like with dating), and it’s all based on emotions, not rational thinking. That’s why branding -- or simply, developing a brand’s personality through unique content -- is such a critical ingredient of business success.
- Studies have also shown that positive emotions towards a brand have greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust or other judgements, which are rational facts based on a brand’s attributes.
Buying is an emotion-driven experience, no matter which way you look at it. Our rational mind shamelessly offers all kinds of lies and explanations of why we buy what we buy, but it’s nowhere close to the real narrative.
To successfully monetize your online community, you need to tap into one of the emotions that drive sales: fear, hope, anger, envy, pride or shame.
Let’s look at some ways how to do that.
6 emotions that drive sales and how to leverage them
“If I don’t act now, I will be in trouble.”
Fear is an incredibly powerful emotion that can often elicit the “fight or flight” response. Leveraging fear doesn’t mean you have to intimidate or bully your prospects into buying from you. It’s more about tapping into their fear of failure or fear of missing out to tip the scales in your favour. If you know that your prospects are struggling to achieve a certain goal or keep up with their competition, you can use that knowledge to construct a targeted message and evoke the feelings that will drive action.
Here’s a real-world example of how to leverage fear in a sales process.
Image source: Toneapi.com
“If I act now, this might be the solution I’ve been looking for.”
As one of the most profitable emotions (if I can put it this way), hope is also quite tricky to get right. You can only leverage hope effectively if you know the other side of it -- frustration. Your prospects are most certainly frustrated about something, but relentlessly hammering on those pains to make them buy is just too negative. What you need to do is elevate their frustration and then show them a better tomorrow -- lead with a positive message that inspires hope. If Trump has managed to hypnotize America with “Make America Great Again”, then there’s plenty of hope for you to monetize your online community.
Here’s a real-world example of how to leverage hope in a sales process.
Image source: retipster.com
“This is the last straw. I need to act now.”
When prospects can’t find a way to solve their frustrations, they get angry. In that sense, it’s a risky emotion to fiddle with because if you fail to provide an effective solution, that anger will eventually be directed at you. However, those who manage to channel this strong emotion into something a bit more positive and circle their prospects back to hope, see a strong sales performance and build trust with their customers. If your online community clearly expresses anger at something that’s not good enough, use that to build a calibrated solution and you will see your sales going through the roof.
Here’s a real-world example of how to leverage anger in a sales process.
Image source: Vonage.com
“If I don’t make a decision now, I will never have, be or do that.”
It’s never a good idea to compare yourself or your business to others, and still we do it all the time. The head-to-head comparison is an excellent method to evoke the feeling of envy, but it’s only one of the many ways that you can capitalise on to leverage this emotion. We feel envious when we lack something and this feeling can quickly morph into a desire, an irrational need to have, be or do something that we’re not doing at the moment. Instagram is a breeding ground for envy, as people are typically left feeling like they have to keep up with the lives of others (of those who are going places and doing things). Depending on the type of online community you’re building, leveraging envy could turn out to be your lucky ticket.
Here’s a real-world example of how to leverage envy in a sales process.
Image source: nanigans.com
“If I act now, I will look smart.”
There are two types of pride. The authentic pride, which is when you’re feeling proud of factors that you can control or put effort into and there’s hubristic pride, which you feel because of unchangeable factors that can’t be controlled. The former one is the good pride, “I succeeded because I worked really hard for it”, while the latter one is the dark side of pride, “I succeeded because I’m better than others”. Don’t dabble with the dark pride, it’s a dangerous emotion. Focus on leveraging the authentic pride, which will leave your community feeling more energised, inspired and positive. Communities that are bonded by strong values and high standards respond well to this type of messaging because they take pride in making the world a better place.
Here’s a real-world example of how to leverage pride in a sales process.
Image source: macrumors.com
“If I don’t act now, I will set myself up for failure.”
Guilt is a close cousin of fear. We feel guilt when we don’t put enough effort into something or don’t fix our personal qualities that can be fixed. When used appropriately, guilt can be a great motivator pushing us to make positive changes. Crafting messages that leave your online community feeling guilty can be an extremely effective sales tactic (just try to remember the last time a charity worker asked you to forego that cup of cappuccino and use the money to save a dying child. Yeh, exactly.). But don’t push it too far, a little sting now and then will do.
Here’s a real-world example of how to leverage guilt in a sales process.
Image source: Aytm.com