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From the age of reason to the age of feeling

Emotion – not reason – is the ultimate driver of decision-making, so marketers need to ensure their messages create ‘ignition moments’ with customers, says Christoph Becker

Deep at the core of who we are as humans, something has changed.

The US election and Brexit are among the most recent examples that have made it more obvious, more undeniable. The fact is emotion is not only playing a larger role in how we make decisions, it’s the ultimate driver of our actions.

Business leaders must take note and remember it’s not the analytical mind driving decisions, but the emotional mind. It’s different, powerful, terrifying and exciting all at the same time – because it’s right there on the surface.

It’s so shocking to some because we have for too long been led to believe that reason is the true driver of decisions. There’s comfort in that thought, especially in business. We clutch our numbers and data tightly in our arms, but our arms are empty because data in the absence of emotion is hollow.

We point to all of the touchpoints and the ‘connections’ we have with our customers. It’s right there in our spreadsheets and on our dashboards, but it’s all completely meaningless without human relevance.

To understand the human side is to understand we’re in the age of feeling. For any decision, be it business, personal or political, our hearts must first be engaged and then our minds will follow. But emotion without precision is like a summer storm. It has an intense impact for a very short time.

The relevance side of the equation offers balance. Today’s technology allows us to be more precise and relevant than ever before. But messages without emotion simply make people numb because we’re all undergoing a constant, multichannel assault.

That’s why it’s not just about accurately hitting a target; it’s about creating a moment with your customer. That moment when they receive the right information at the right time and actually feel something. That spark – the ignition moment – is everything.

After this ignition moment, the rational side of the brain finds the validators needed to justify the decision. This is especially true in business where there’s so much at risk professionally and personally. Too often, business marketers forget businesses don’t make decisions, people do. And people are looking for a reason to believe.

You must dial up the soul of your business. Tell them what your business was born to do and how it’s changing the world for the better. Show them the passionate, talented people driving it. Create a feeling about your business and, unlike just words, that feeling will transcend countries and cultures.

This is critical when connecting with today’s decision-makers, especially millennial leaders. They expect businesses to be responsible and purpose-driven. Give them a human reason to love you, not just a business reason, and the ignition moment will happen. Striking this balance between feelings and precision is not only the future of business communications, it’s the future of marketing and advertising as a whole.

The age of reason has passed. We are now living within one of the most visceral, passionate times in history. We cannot forget it and we cannot fear it. Instead we must embrace it, love it and work each day to truly ignite something humanly relevant.

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