Be honest. In the last three months, has something changed at work to make you feel worry, annoyance, disappointment, fear or anger? What about satisfaction, hope or happiness? If it hasn’t, then you’re one of the tiny minority of people who haven’t reacted emotionally to recent change in the workplace.
Modern marketing is all about change. To make change happen, marketers need to move beyond being “on-message” to being “on-emotion”. Why? Evidence proves that the emotional trumps the rational when it comes to influencing change and making decisions in business.
A subsequent research study conducted by gyro with YouGov in the UK identified that the importance of emotions in decision-making increases when it comes to making change happen. In the last three months, 79 percent of senior decision makers surveyed in medium and large businesses experienced change in their workplace. These changes triggered a volatile cocktail of 33 emotional responses. Worry, annoyance, disappointment, fear and anger all featured in the top 10. As did more positive emotions such as satisfaction, hope and happiness.
This insight is critical to making change happen. In human beings, sensory inputs get an emotional response much more quickly than a rational response. Reason will always depend on emotion to frame up what is important to us as individual decision makers.
When digging deeper, the research also found that the significant differences in how decision makers responded is linked to their sex, region, and the industry they work in:
– Male business decision makers responded differently to female business decision makers. Women saw more displays of negative emotional responses to change in colleagues, business partners and suppliers than men did. Women also felt fewer positive emotional responses to change than men did.
– The North of England responded differently to the South. The North felt more positive emotional responses to change than the South.
– Industry verticals such as Manufacturing responded differently to IT & Technology and Financial Services. The pace of change has clearly left the IT & Technology and Financial Services verticals in a less happy place than other industry verticals.
These differences in emotional responses create opportunity for marketers who view businesses as more than sterile decision-making machines and embrace the idea of being on-emotion. They will be the marketers that think of businesses as networks of human relationships and focus on building strong emotional connections into those networks.
There are four practical steps to turning being on-emotion into a competitive advantage and building strong emotional connections into businesses:
1. Identify the tangled web of emotional responses that surrounds the change that you’re trying to sell in.
2. Understand which of those emotional responses slow change down and speed change up.
3. Decide if your brand should be the catalyst or the antidote for the emotional responses that make the biggest difference.
4. Be clear about how to ignite or extinguish the emotional responses that matter.
Conventional wisdom has always been that business and emotions don’t mix. However, the evidence shows they do. So, whether the marketing industry feels totally comfortable with it or not – now is the time for modern marketers to move beyond being on-message to being on-emotion. For those that do, there should be less worry, annoyance, disappointment, fear and anger and more satisfaction, hope and happiness.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 345 decision-makers in medium to large businesses. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27th – 31st October 2014. The survey was carried out online.
Simon Calvert – Chief Strategy, Technology & Data Officer, gyro UK
Simon Calvert has been the Chief Strategy, Technology & Data Officer of gyro since October 2014. Calvert’s experience spans agencies on five different continents, including Digitas, EuroRSCG, McCann, Saatchi & Saatchi and Michaelides & Bednash. He was most recently digital strategy leader at Mindshare Worldwide providing digital strategy and execution for multinational clients including HSBC, Chanel, Unilever, Dyson, Diesel, Boehringer Ingelheim, Jaguar and Land Rover. Prior to Mindshare, Calvert was global chief planning officer at DraftFCB where he was instrumental in winning NIVEA’s $700M global advertising account.