Excuse Me, That’s My Emotional Baggage

by Albert Berkshire

“Emotions,” my old college friend John said, “have a unique ability to get in the way of life.”

John had a way of making the most ridiculous statement sound profound. But that was it; it sounded profound…and said nothing. I never kept in touch with John in the years after Journalism school, but I’m sure he’s out there somewhere, reading everything and overstating the obvious.

Emotions for me never get in the way of anything. My Creative Director tells me I have a big heart…and that I wear it on my sleeve. I make no apologies for being passionate about what I do, and never do I hold back how I feel about something. I feel this way because it’s a part of me. I work this way because it’s an expression of who I am. There is emotion in what I write because we, as humans, are all emotional.

I tell clients that people buy based on emotion and justify with logic. How the pants look on you will sell you on the idea of owning them. Therefore you can justify spending $125 on a new dress pants because in your “heart of hearts” it’s worth it.

It’s a point I have made over and over and over, so many times I almost hate to hear myself utter the words. But that’s part of the emotion we sell as Creatives.

Getting a client to buy into emotion shouldn’t be hard. And here’s why: They have an emotional attachment to their business.

“But they only want to talk about how many “giga-somethings” and “bits per whatever” are in their computers. They only want to talk about their menu selections. They only want to say they have the most four-door sedans in every colour to choose from.”

I hear this from other writers all the time. I hear it from myself all the time. Many radio advertisers, at a local level anyway, say all these things because it’s all they know. Car dealers live and breathe models and options, trades and finance rates. Restaurateurs focus on how many seats are filled for lunch and dinner, and what are the top selling menu selections. Computer stores are charged with the task of keeping on top of the fastest changing industry in the world. You don’t even want to know what some of my “techie” friends have to read in a week, let alone a month.

But my emotional attachment to my own work allows (or forces) me to work past the “client jargon” and get to the core of the message. It takes time. And if you ask the right questions, present the right scenarios, and tell your own story, your clients will see there is an emotional side to their customers.

The easiest way is ask them what they think are the REAL reasons people want their products and services. Is everyone at the restaurant just hungry, or are they celebrating something? Is the computer for work, or staying in touch with family and friends? Do they need a car to get to the store, or is it their own form of freedom?

In the end, there’s emotion attached to the decision. An emotion similar to that the client feels when you walk in and play the most amazing “spec” they’ve ever heard. Now they’re buying based on emotion. Funny how that works.

Don’t forget the emotion. It not only makes the creative more “real,” but it brings worth to your ideas. And emotion worth sharing is emotion at its best.

Earlier today I read an article by a skiing legend whom I’ve admired since I was a kid. He wrote that he was having radiation treatments for cancer, and the thought filled me with a mix of emotions—emotions not far removed from my everyday life. I wonder if John read the same article.

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