Red brain, green brain: how to use emotional advertising to drive sales

What causes people to buy the things they need? It’s a question marketers have been trying to answer forever. In recent years, illuminating new information has come to light about the relationship between advertising, what makes people buy, and the way they feel, AKA their emotions.

The most successful small businesses have learned the most effective form of advertising is emotion-centric and geared towards getting people to feel a certain way. This is because consumers tend to rely on their emotions to make buying decisions, instead of logical facts and information. 

The dichotomy between logical versus emotional buying decisions is further explored by the concepts of red brain and green brain marketing.

Red brain marketing

This is focused on the “logical” side of sales – hard facts like product/service features, instructions, methodology, and price. However, much like a stoplight in traffic, red brain marketing can compel the brain to halt and procrastinate over decision making, increasing buyer resistance. The buyer gets too caught up in trying to justify the purchase instead of focusing on the transformation that will occur in buying your product/service.

Green brain marketing

This uses real emotions and genuine human experience to encourage consumers to make a buying decision – and it works! Here you make your ideal client feel something instead of just feeding them information. When you are able to market your business in a way that appeals to your customer’s feelings, creativity, and imagination, your ideal customer will feel empowered into making a decision.

Five key emotions used in marketing

Happiness: Brands associated with happy customers and positivity have proven appeal. Positive, upbeat language and promotional materials (including photos of smiling customers) are two ways brands speak to “happiness”.

Sadness: Marketing that tugs at a consumer’s heartstrings can be incredibly powerful. Think touching commercials about animals in shelters that need homes, complete with sad musical overlay!

This creates urgency and prompts us to take action, to change something so that we can avoid a dreaded or undesired consequence.

Surprise: Advertisers turn to surprise when they want to capture audience attention and establish a strong brand impression. Often we care about getting something unexpectedly – especially if it’s something unexpectedly enticing!

Anger: It might seem counterintuitive to evoke feelings of anger or disgust when you are trying to sell a product/service, but when done strategically, it can be powerful. Your target audience may be incensed enough to make a move. For example, showcasing graphic images of smokers’ lungs in an effort to ‘disgust’ viewers into quitting smoking and buying nicotine patches.

How to incorporate green brain marketing into your existing strategy

While there’s a time and place for red brain marketing, green brain marketing will help you drive sales on a deeper, more widespread level. Consider these strategies:

Be intentional with your messaging

Review your content (both written and video) with an emotional eye. Your tone should be less formal and geared towards creating a friendly rapport with your audience. Pepper the entire customer journey with customer-centric, relatable language and imagery.

Know your audience’s pain and pleasure points

  • Ask what does your audience want out of life?
  • How can your service or product help them get it?
  • What would make your target consumer sad? 
  • What would shock or scare your target consumer into taking action?
  • What would make your target consumer angry?
  • How can you tap into this anger without creating controversy or resistance?
Don’t ignore red-brain marketing completely

Sometimes, logic and emotion go hand-in-hand. Aim to balance the two sides to resonate with your target audience. To follow this rule, try and combine every red brain appeal or fact with greenery. Always question how your customer is feeling, and how your product or services helps to solve their problems.