Asking different questions can reveal new insights about your market.
No matter what your company sells, the markets where you operate change constantly. One day the sun is (metaphorically) shining, and the next day a tanker gets stuck in a canal, there’s a virus outbreak, a prominent bank fails, a fragile aging musician opens fire on a twelve-pack of beer, or some other event happens to change our collective outlook.
Reading the tea leaves of market dynamics is both art and science. There is no shortage of brilliant people putting advanced technology to work to uncover patterns and make predictions for all types of scenarios. At Emotive, we believe that in addition to market analytics, there are emotional insights that you and your team can gather that can help you paint a fuller picture of how your world is shifting and the role your brand can play in keeping your business in front of these changes.
Emotion is critical to your peripheral vision
In their book, Peripheral Vision: Detecting Weak Signals That Will Make or Break Your Company, Wharton professors George Day and Paul Schoemaker wrote, “You must ask the right questions to identify what you don’t know so you can explore the edge of your business… You must identify new sources of information or new ways of scanning to unveil important but hidden parts of the periphery.”
Emotions, while harder to quantify, offer critical insights into your market opportunity. From the macro to the micro levels, emotional information can explain the synaptic connections between what’s happening in the world and what’s happening in your business. While emotions don’t answer everything, they do provide a critical layer of context that makes market behaviors seem less arbitrary and a little more “human.” And as you get more attuned to how the emotional landscape contributes to or detracts from your success, you gain the confidence to speed up decisions, make better bets, and deploy your brand in the best ways possible.
Below are a few lenses you look through to develop market insights that will expand your peripheral vision as a business:
The economic outlook, employment and wage trends, the regulatory environment, political and cultural currents, public health issues, environmental issues, social trends, and other top headlines—these primary ingredients create the bouillabaisse of market dynamics. But how often do you look at these macro forces as waves of emotion moving through the population? Looking at the feelings generated by the headlines that impact your market gives you insights into opportunities for the role your brand needs to play in the world. And having this conversation with your team every week keeps your brand in tune with the world.
There’s a baseline, meat-and-potatoes narrative that defines the category where you compete. Many of our clients in the enterprise technology space discover that they default to telling a category story, which in general is pretty generic. Differentiation comes down to products and features—your “what” and “how”—rather than the articulation of “why” your company exists. Categories drive sameness for the sake of making easy comparisons, and the safe players tend to hold to the center. Emotion gives you a fulcrum to break out of the box, or better, expand it, to see and understand what you see as possible. And when people connect with your vision for how you can change the world, there’s a high likelihood they’ll be rooting for your success.
As your competition grows more sophisticated, they will look to claim a specific emotional territory. Branding in consumer packaged goods is where you find true expertise in using emotion to claim specific turf. How else can you choose from the 27 different toothpaste brands on the shelf? For longer sales cycles, once someone is in the consideration phase, it all comes down to the emotional cues your brand delivers that elevate the decision-making from rational analysis to the emotional moment of commitment. By understanding the emotional space your competition is trying to own and ensuring your emotional space is better defined, more compelling, hyper-relevant, and executed with originality, you’ll gain the upper hand as you compete for the same customers.
Do you look at your customer as the person with the budget and purchasing authority? Or, as someone driven by human desires and motivations? Seeing customers as people you can make successful allows you to engage with them on a deeper level. You tap into their ambitions and their fears. You ask different questions that give you insight into how they want to succeed, instantly deepening the relationship. And when you think of the customers you have today as the leaders of tomorrow, it pays to invest in building their loyalty early. When a brand builds deep, meaningful connections with customers, you earn the permission to innovate in new ways and lead your customers to new destinations. The trust you build inspires them to come along for future journeys.
Users or Consumers
B2B. B2C. B2B2C. B2H. We like this last acronym because we believe the best brands are Business to Human. The humans could be the people buying and consuming your product. Or they could be your partners, channels, or resellers you depend on to bring your brand to different audiences. No matter where you sit in the value chain, the question to ask is, what emotions do users or consumers count on you to help them feel? The mechanics are different when selling hand soap versus a SaaS platform, but it still comes down to delivering an experience that communicates emotion across the entire value chain. Creating emotional bonds with people turns them into true advocates and evangelists. Having a great product is key to connecting with consumers. But having an emotionally-driven brand accelerates your ability to increase market share, galvanize a tribe, or lead a movement.
Your company is a system of functions that work together to deliver a product, service, or offering. But how connected is your company to the emotions that your brand stands for? Do people proudly wear your swag? Do they consistently engage customers and partners in ways that convey a clear set of emotions? When your company is clear about the feelings behind your experiences, you can stand out in any market. Because it’s the companies who own the emotional experience inside and out who claim a stake in the ground and are genuinely different. And according to the people working inside them, truly better.
By looking at each aspect of how you go to market through the lens of emotion, odds are you’ll uncover some white space you haven’t considered and some insights that can sharpen what you’re already doing well. And if you ever need a partner exploring emotion-driven market insights, that’s what
Emotive Brand does every day.