Emotion, good or bad, plays a defining role in all aspects of our lives. It determines how we interpret the world and the decisions we make—more than we might like to admit. Our emotional responses can’t be reasoned with in the same way as our intellectual ones. For content marketers, this is actually a blessing.
All too often we get bogged down in trying to get across the message, the brand, whatever it is we are wanting to communicate to the reader. However, words, carefully crafted, can induce the desired feeling in that reader that can make all the difference—feelings linger, words are forgotten.
Take this six-word short story written by Ernest Hemingway:
For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.
A great deal of information is communicated in those six simple words, and, most importantly, they evoke—assuming you’re not a sociopath—the appropriate emotional response.
Advertisers have long known that they must appeal to the heart rather than the mind, and advertising copy reflects this. We might like to tell ourselves we’re buying a particular brand or product because of its superior quality, but in reality the generic equivalent is often just as good. No, we are often buying it for much more subtle reasons. People rationalise their buying choices based on fact, but the decision to buy is based on emotion.
Emotion is important in most forms of writing, the notable exception being academic/scientific papers. If you have ever sat in a creative writing class you will likely have been told to create an “emotional connection” between your characters and the reader. If you don’t care about a character, how can you expect the person reading it to, either?
That humanising touch and connection with the reader is imperative, whether you’re telling a story or selling a product. You must create a bond otherwise it’s all for nothing. Hype and spin get little response from today’s plugged-in consumer.
Now, I’m not going to turn this article into a tick box exercise with bullet points on what kind of ‘trigger’ words or phrases you should be including in your content; I’m afraid it’s not that simple. It requires being a human—again, helps if you don’t have sociopathic tendencies—and attempting to find some connection with those you are writing for, be that projecting a warm, fun, personality or showing you have an understanding of their needs and wants. Actually, if you think about it, it’s probably the easiest thing of all to do.
But let’s not kid ourselves that what we write is going to have any significant impact on the life of the person reading it. If it does the job that it was intended to, that’s good enough.
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