Emotional vs Functional Messaging. Get the balance right to connect with your audience like never before.

Create content that resonates

How can you create content that resonates? Content that moves people to action. Content that convinces the reader that this is it – this is what they’ve been looking for. The answer – you’ve got to connect with them emotionally.

As much as we like to think otherwise, humans are not rational beings. We tend to make emotional decisions and then seek out the logic that we need to support those decisions. And so it follows from a marketing perspective then, that if you want to convince somebody of the value of your product or service, the best way to do that is on an emotional level.

The data bears this out too. According to an IAPI study from 2014, emotional advertising generates 20x the ROI of functional advertising.

So how can you use this to your advantage? What does it mean to use emotional language over functional?

Consider the bicycle brakes example:

  • Very Functional: Buy our new bicycle brakes with rubber grips.
    • Purely describes the features of the product.
  • Less functional: Our new bicycle brakes with rubber grips will help you stop faster.
    • A little better, now describing the benefits of those features.
  • Emotional: Be safer on the road. Experience the latest in cycling innovation and make sure your brakes help protect you and all road users.
    • Now we’re talking about successful outcomes that can be achieved as a result of using our product.

See the difference? The final example taps into an emotional need that the customer has. This is not just a product; this is something you can’t do without. You could also look at it in terms of What, How, and Why. What does your product or service do (features). How does it do it (benefits). Why does it do it (outcomes).


Focus on successful outcomes

Ok, so now you need to figure out what are the successful outcomes of using your product or service.

Another way to think about this is in terms of pain points. Think about what pains or challenges your customers face that you can help them to solve. Customer pain points are often grouped into four main categories: productivity, financial, process, and support. This blog does a great job of explaining the differences and outlines how to identify which ones your customers face.


Get the balance right

Now all of this isn’t to say that you omit the functional stuff completely – do that and your content, be it on a website, brochure, or radio ad, risks coming across as lacking substance. But if you can lead with the emotive bit, and then bring in your supporting evidence as the functional bit, you can create a more compelling story that is more likely to move your audience to action.

And that’s it. Get the balance of emotional and functional messaging right to make sure you connect with your audience. They will feel like you “get” them, that you’ve understood the real challenges they face, and that you have the solution.