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  • Writer's pictureDr. Gary Witt

Using Emotional Marketing to Win Buyers

We buy this because we want to feel like a good "parent" and make our dog happy. The picture promises how we want our dog to feel, making us feel happy, too.

Marketing Psychology, Inc. Gary Witt, Ph.D.

This is Part 1 of this blog. For Part 2, click here.


“People don’t want what you are selling!” Failing to understand this idea is the single greatest barrier to more sales. That’s why it is the first principle of Marketing Psychology.

Just as no new parent wants others to act indifferently to their baby, so no company owner wants to believe customers are indifferent to his product or service. We want others to see our “baby” like we do – the “center of our universe.” Good marketers know buyers don’t see it that way.


How do you begin to improve your marketing? First, accept that people do not want what you are selling. Your product or service is just a springboard to the true satisfactions they want. They are not buying a product, they are buying the Anticipation of Satisfaction.

We don’t buy Dial soap because we want a cake of soap, but because we want to feel clean, and not be embarrassed by smelling bad. Dial’s ads and commercials focus on feeling clean and fresh. The tagline reinforces our fear of embarrassment (a powerful emotion) by saying, “Aren’t you glad you use Dial – don’t you wish everyone did?” It reminds us of people we’ve encountered who didn’t smell fresh, and makes us imagine how embarrassed we would be if others thought we smelled that way.

Product features give us logical reasons to believe the company can deliver on its promises. But it is that fear of embarrassment that sells the soap.

To sell more, we must first make buyers believe that our product (or service) will satisfy their true buying motivations better than competitors. In most cases, the difference between a buyer’s first and second choice is very small. The first choice had just a little extra, a “magic inch,” that swing the decision.

Often this magic inch is not a feature, but a feeling. By using marketing psychology to improve your emotional message, you can often gain that extra inch of perceived value which will give you the sale. Nordstroms, for example, has that ‘magic inch’ – it is the buyer’s belief that she will always feel like special customer.

The most economical way to increase your marketing ROI is to improve your emotional marketing message. A good message “sings” to the buyer. It’s all about buyer psychology – because that is what really controls the purse strings!


We often buy on the basis of emotion, and justify it on the basis of logic. (Ever drooled over a piece of chocolate cake you knew you shouldn’t eat, but did so anyway, saying, “I had a hard day and this is my reward for getting through it!”?)

We use logic as a way to suppress the guilt, anxiety or discomfort we may feel at making a hedonistic decision, like buying an expensive sports car, treating ourselves to an expensive spa, or skipping work to see a spring training game. We hate to feel guilty, and look for a way to suppress it. So be sure to give buyers at least one or two simple, logical reasons to justify an emotional purchase.

This approach works on most products, not just luxuries – look at Michelin tires or McDonalds hamburgers (“You deserve a break today” allowed millions of buyers to justify stopping in for burgers instead of cooking at home.)

See "5 Steps in Emotional Marketing" to conclude this article. Click here.

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