What marketers need to know about love

Robert Labayen

Posted at Jul 07 2020 03:38 PM

(Part of a talk given to advertisers in May 2020)

It’s so hard to define what love is.

Then I had a dream.

So, I felt like Moses or St. Paul receiving a message from God in a dream. And this was the message (from God): A loving relationship is not transactional.

It made sense! In our life, most things are transactional. We always pay for a product or experience that we like. We always give something to get something. It applies even at home. We would say, “Mom, I will be a good boy, you reward me with a nice toy.” In my youth, I always heard the expression that “love is give and take.” We thought harmony was based on mutual gratification. My perspective changed only when a friend that I have forgotten explained: “Love is actually just give and give. You don’t expect anything in return.”

That is why some scientists classify love among the different types of mental illness. It defies logic.

It also creates bias, if not willful blindness. According to some scientists, we perceive our loved one as more good-looking, more intelligent, more good-natured, more talented than they really are. (My mother told me I was handsome kid!)

Why should marketers need to know these?

We want consumers not just to buy our product but also to trust and love our brand. We want them to be loyal and have some kind of emotional bond with our brand. Back in 2005, Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts proposed a higher tier above brand status. He called products in this lofty category as “lovemarks.” They are the brands that elicit passion. If taken off the shelves, for example, consumers will be distressed or may express outrage.

Being loved is also of extreme importance in this time of social media hate. If you are not loved enough, one nasty social media comment can bring you down. The negativity will spread like wildfire. But because love makes people more forgiving, your loyalists will quickly defend you or rationalize whatever mistake you may have made.

It's a challenge for brands to establish a non-transactional relationship because brands are not charity. People have to pay to get them.

First, a product needs to satisfy the fundamentals: does it have good quality? Does it satisfy the user’s needs? With admirable product attributes at a reasonable price, a brand will establish its trustworthiness. Trust has to be earned before anyone deserves to be loved. But one false claim or inconsistency can erode the trust that has been built.

My suggestion on how to start an emotional relationship with your market is to include soft-sell advertising in your repertoire of ads. Soft-sell allows you to communicate what you care about and what your values are. You can also tell your market how you care about them--without selling them anything. Motivational speaker Simon Sinek advised that by letting people know why you do what you do, people may buy into your vision and therefore become warmer to you, have more sympathy for you.

A stronger emotional connection can be created when we put hard-sell aside from time to time. Aren’t we irritated by an acquaintance who keeps selling us something every time we meet? Bob Burg, one of the world’s most successful salespeople, counseled that it is important to establish a friendship with a prospect before selling them anything. That’s also what I heard from a friend who’s starting her online business. She said that in online business, you treat people as friends more than customers because you deal with them directly, not through a sales department.

Another thing you can do is to give back to the community. A survey by Morning Consult in the USA listed caring for the community as one of the factors that create love between brand and consumer. Like soft-sell, advocacy tells your market that you care about the same things. Our values bond us.

Finally, I suggest that you give things for free and without a catch. It may be small gifts. It may be some perks. It can be an experience that makes your consumers happy. It can be free ideas. For example, Ikea gave away the secret recipe of their famous meatballs, entirely free. They did it when people are staying at home during the Covid-19 lockdown thinking of ways to fight monotony and to delight the family. I found it so selfless of Ikea.

The book The Attention Economy by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck said that in the age of clutter and attention deficiency, “the best way to get more attention is to give more attention.”

I changed the words to “the best way to get more love is to give more love.”

It made sense to me!

Read:

The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck

Endless Referrals by Bob Burg

Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands by Kevin Roberts

Start With Why : How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek in TEDxPugetSound on Youtube

These are the most-loved brads of 2019 in the Morning Consult website

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril by Margaret Hefferman

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.