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Emotional Marketing–What I learned

This may come as no surprise but …

I’m not a professional marketer. Okay, technically I am a professional marketer because that is what I do at work now, but I haven’t gone to school to learn marketing and I have a LOT to learn. That being said, I found some good stuff and not so good stuff about emotions in marketing.

  1. There has been a lot of research around emotions in marketing.
  2. Some of this research says there are four basic emotions (kinda like three primary colors) from which we build all of our emotions. These four basics are:
    1. Happiness
    2. Sadness
    3. Surprise/Fear
    4. Anger/Disgust
  3. More research says that people are most likely to share ads that are positive, or that have an element of surprise.
  4. Ads that appeal to emotions work better than ads that appeal to our reason.
  5. All these analyses leave out one important factor: the story.

(Here’s a list of cool sites that I saved in my favorites that I’ll go back to this month as I’m developing my ad: Buffer Social,, HubSpot, Referral Candy, 602 Communications, the Huffington Post,

Digging down deeper …

Since we’re talking about marketing and marketing books specifically, let’s look at some book ads, shall we? I went onto Facebook, which is where I hang out a lot, and dug around for some ads. The best place to find ads, of course, is in the groups created specifically to push books at people. Most of the time, I scroll right past the ads because they just don’t do it for me. Now I have to go back and look at them and figure out WHY they don’t do it for me or, in rare cases, why they worked.

(Food for thought: You know what I’ve discovered? There aren’t a lot of book ads out there. They aren’t the norm in mainstream publishing. I suppose it’s hard to find a way to emotionally connect with readers. Indie authors use ads a lot more, but many of these lack emotional bang.)

First, let’s look at some ads that made me stop and that DID do it for me.

We can talk about why they stopped me too. If you have a different perspective, comment below!

  1. Heart of Light by T. K. Leigh 14102590_316429745361679_6534600016849282723_n
    1. Why did this stop me? For one, there’s something desperate about the woman’s face that made me want to know what was happening.
    2. Two, I love the copy. It makes me ask questions. Why doesn’t she have much time? What will happen when he wakes up? Why does she have to leave?
    3. My conclusion is that you can’t just rely on emotion to make your ad remarkable, you have to tell an emotional story with it. This ad worked for me because it tells a story. (One thing I see about this ad is: there’s no call to action! So, while it caught my eye and intrigued me, it didn’t do anything else!)13912691_1821172871502403_1861583944462361073_n
  2. Dark Redemption by Sarah Marsh
    1. This one caught me because of the copy. The picture makes me think erotic romance, but the copy makes me want to know more about the story. So many romances focus on a woman in need of love and rescuing, so finding a book where the woman rescues the dude (as this ad implies) makes me want to know more.
    2. What emotion is it evoking? Surprise! ‘Huh,’ I thought. ‘Maybe this isn’t another run-of-the-mill romance. Maybe there’s something in there that I can dig.’ (I grew up reading romance books, so don’t take my criticism as not liking romances. I do. It’s just that I read so many that gave the woman a lesser role in her own romantic story that it takes a lot to make me want to read a new one. I’ve been burned too many times before! *delicate hand on forehead*)
    3. This ad doesn’t have a call to action either. It would have been more effective if it told me to go pre-order it right now or asked me to visit the author’s website. I saw the ad, I picked it out to talk about, but I haven’t gone to Amazon to pre-order it. Why not?
      1. While I love the copy, there needs to be something more for me to take the next step. What would that be? A call to action? Something else that adds value to the book? What? This is a good thing to think about so that I don’t miss this step when making my ads.
  3. I loved ads that surprised me, made me laugh,12109195_1655247821406457_7578131295482503866_n or made me wish I was had come up with it. This ad for the Redwood Rebel did that for me.
    1. It’s fricking funny and highlights the craziness that is authoring a book and putting it out there for human consumption.
    2. It makes me trust the author because she’s telling the truth about what people have said about her book and doing it in a way that makes me feel like she’s a friend who’s dishing to me.
    3. She has other ads like this. The first one I ever saw got me to buy her book. It worked because it surprised me and made me laugh. (You should buy her book too. It’s good!)

What about the things I didn’t like?

  1. I didn’t like book ads that were just the book cover. Adding: *FREE FREE FREE* to the header might make me stop, but often those ads made my eyes glaze over. There was nothing there I could emotionally connect to and nothing, story-wise, that I could be intrigued by.
    1. One caveat: if there was something in it for me, such as, “How YOU can advertise to 5000 new readers today!” then I’d at least stop and give it a longer look. This would have to catch my interest pretty fast, though.
  2. I didn’t like book ads with excerpts from the story. This concerns me because I often use excerpts along with a picture of my book cover. If it doesn’t work for me, it’s probably not doing it for other people, huh?
  3. I disregarded reviews quickly. I don’t care how it made other people feel. How is it going to make me feel? That was the question that popped up for me. The exception is the ad by author Lorna George above, that took the reviews and turned them into something I could identify with as an author.

Now that we’ve seen some print ads, let’s look at book trailers. You’d think that book trailers would help authors sell tons of books. Music is a powerful way to evoke emotions and book trailers have a bigger canvas on which to tell a story. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m guessing the ones that don’t work are those that don’t focus on the emotion of the story, that instead of emotion, they focus on the facts.

I’m going to cheat and talk about the 7 so-called brilliant book trailers the site Brain Pickings wrote about. I watched every video … okay, I’m lying. I started to watch every video but only made it all the way through one. Your results may vary, but here are my thoughts. (Here is the link to their article. They have a fun site!

  1. I loved the animations in this book trailer but I stopped watching halfway in because I couldn’t quite catch-all the words the dude was saying. There was a lot of atmospheric echo and background noise, which made it hard to get immersed in the words. Books are all about words, people! Don’t drown out the words trying to be clever.
  2. I really liked #2. One, it has a lot of value-added promise, right? You watch it and you hear the wisdom of a bunch of elders who you may have grown up watching on TV or listening to on the radio. Kinda neat.
  3. The third video didn’t catch my attention. Yeah, I like Zach Galifianakis, but the whole thing was kinda low-key and boring. I didn’t watch it all. (This is where knowing your audience comes in, I think. I’m not the audience for this trailer, because there wasn’t anything about it to retain my interest and nothing in the first thirty seconds kept me captivated.)
  4. Meh. The music was loud and distracted from the words. Maybe I would have liked it had there been a different soundtrack. I didn’t like the dude’s voice either, though, so I only watched to the second word, an emotional word, ironically.
  5. I wanted to like the worst case scenario one but there wasn’t much there to hold my interest. It was all facts but no emotional connection, no story.
  6. I thought I’d like this one but there was too much gobbledygook that meant nothing to me. I couldn’t see how the old footage related to the book and so I stopped watching.
  7. This one caught my attention big time. Right away I can see that there are two characters so I know there’s going to be a story and indeed there is and it’s a cute one. It’s an emotional story, too, one that we can identify with. I liked this one the best.

I rarely see book ads on TV or on the radio, but I did hear one for a local author. It caught my attention because it was a book ad, but it didn’t strike an emotional chord with me and, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the book’s name or the author’s name. Why didn’t it work? For one, I wasn’t the right audience for the book. I don’t like dark romances, for one. There wasn’t an emotional connection I could hang onto and the ad didn’t tell a story. (There are a myriad of other factors that play into effective ads, I know, but I’m just focusing on emotion for now.)

Okay, what else can we get out of this marketing research?

How about we start building a checklist of things to look for in effective ads. Or maybe this will be a series of questions to answer when creating your own ads. (I’ll use it when I create my ad this month based on what I learn.)

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What do you want them to feel?
    1. Name that emotion! Be specific.
  3. What story are you telling with your ad?
  4. What do you want the audience to do next?

There are other questions to ask, but I’m going to keep this short and specific to emotions. In months to come, I’ll add to this list until we have a Giant, Mega, Super-Duper Checklist to make our ads GREATASTIC!

I could talk more about what I learned on those other sites, but I need time to digest what I learned and I also need to get back to writing and revising the Book That Will Never End.

Until next time,







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