Understanding your audience is the key to forging a connection. And connection is essential if you want to build trust — which is required on some level before a purchase is made.

Studies show that people rely on their emotions to make decisions; according to brain scans, emotional responses have a greater effect on buying decisions than the information (brand qualities, features, and facts) in an ad or post.

What Does Your Audience Feel?

Subaru discovered that 69% of its car owners have pets, and 50 percent specifically have dogs. Subaru donates $250 for every new vehicle purchased or leased to the customer’s choice of charities, and also noticed that the charity most often chosen was the animal-loving ASPCA.

The pet connection in Subaru’s marketing doesn’t come from logic; it comes from acknowledging that their customers feel strong emotions for dogs because of their core values.

Subaru owners seem to value:

  • Adventure
  • Family
  • Loyalty
  • Safety

Strong values cause a strong emotional response (LOVE) to dog-centric marketing like the Barkley dog commercials and the Puppy Bowl. Love is one of the strongest and most powerful emotions, and love makes people take action.Marketing through storytelling

Positive Marketing vs Pain Points

Traditional marketing advice recommends focusing on pain, and reminding your customers why they’re so upset. Subaru found new success by amplifying positive feelings like love and trust instead.

Instead of amplifying painful experiences for your customers, how can you use your words and imagery to generate comfort? How can you invite them into a positive experience with your brand without re-triggering trauma and discomfort?

Negative emotions throw you into a fight or flight response. Your field of vision narrows and you react. While making people hurt might lead to reactive, one-off purchases in a state of panic, that sort of impulsiveness could lead to buyer’s remorse and an unfavorable memory of your brand.

Feeling good, on the other hand, builds trust and comfort over time, leading to repeat purchases, a positive brand association, and therefore a long-term customer relationship. Positive emotions expand your mental capacity, open your focus, and allow receptivity.

Ask yourself:

  • How can you embody your customers’ values and make them feel comfortable? 
  • How can you help them to feel good while staying genuine to your brand? 
  • Where is the intersection between what you make, how you make it, and how you can touch someone’s heart?

Positive marketing

The Value of Honesty in Marketing

Good marketing isn’t just about novelty; it’s also about honesty. Traditional marketing encourages over-embellishment. Social media marketing glorifies the “little white lie” by rewarding the use of artificial filters and completely staged scenes. Clichéd quotes abound from accounts desperately seeking followers, likes, and shares.

And yet very few brands back their online personae with something tangible.  

Subaru doesn’t just use dogs to tug on your heartstrings, though. “Dog tested. Dog approved®” actually refers to extensive dog-centric product development.

Subaru considered that dogs get wet or muddy and offered durable StarTex upholstery and water-resistant seat covers. They used custom-designed, anatomically correct dog crash test dummies from the Center for Pet Safety and paid for dog-specific crash testing. Subaru also funded studies to evaluate the safety of various travel pet seats, pet crates, pet carriers, and pet harnesses.

If your brand can be as honest as Subaru, you’ll make an impact.

Ask yourself:

Where can you be more honest?

Do you really practice what you preach?

And how can you do that even better?

Marketing Emotion Through Story

Positive emotions, especially when generated by storytelling, invite your potential customers to be “part of the team.” The opposite is true with negative emotions, which often result from an authority figure or brand pointing a finger at potential customers from a pedestal. 

Creating an authentic story around a product or your brand can entertain and engage your audience and, at the same time, deliver information. Subaru has created the story of a dog family, the Barkleys, which allows them to relate to and evoke feelings of fondness in their audience.

Instead of listing safety features, Subaru creates a path of connection.

Stories can also highlight your brand’s personality, and customers relate emotionally — not rationally — to personalities. Research shows that customers recognize the same types of personalities in brands as they do in human beings.

Ask yourself:

What personality characteristics do your customers appreciate and relate to?

What kinds of stories can you tell that show your brand’s personality?

Generating New Ideas for Your Audience 

Subaru’s spokesman, Dominick Infante, revealed that the idea of using dogs in their car commercials came from a hired advertising agency. The first pet-related Subaru commercial featured an Australian shepherd and a cat arguing over a parking spot.

Not even a large, successful company like Subaru has all its own answers; sometimes an outside perspective is required for growth. And sometimes you have to try something new to discover something that works.

The genius behind Bauerhaus offers ongoing personalized marketing guidance, which you can sample by scheduling a free 30-minute call with founder (and wine marketing expert) Rebecca Ritz. She can lead you on a guided journey through the Bauerhaus Brand Map, deep diving into your target consumers and strategizing how to best reach them in a way that’s authentically you. Schedule a free call with Becca today!