Facts vs Feelings

In his monthly column, Brian Gray from Glasgow-based erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing offers his thoughts on all things marketing. This month he’s asking what’s more important to erotic retailers: facts or feelings?

So…..Christmas and New Year’s Day feel like ages ago. Valentine’s Day is also in the rear view mirror. Are you now needing a holiday to catch your breath? I don’t blame you. My own start to 2020 was – and I’m not over exaggerating – dramatic. I’ll spare you the gory details but it certainly lent me some perspective on life, the universe and everything. I came out of it with a new found conviction to not sweat the small stuff. By that I mean the trivial things – or people – that shouldn’t be taking up one’s thoughts. A second by-product was deciding to tolerate less crap.

Probably top of the list of the people not to be taken too seriously are the ones who, when faced with an alternative viewpoint or argument backed up with facts and evidence, scream, name call, or cry ‘victim’. You know, the ones who stress the importance of feelings over everything else.

Thankfully, in our industry we shouldn’t have to dispute the importance of facts and figures. If one of your customers orders a 34B bra, then the seamstresses will have ensured that your customer gets a B and not a D cup. A dildo manufacturer selling products specifically measured at eight inches will be in the firing line if customers report that they’re six, or ten, inches instead. Think about your own website analytics and sales figures too. More rock solid, quantifiable, specific stuff.

Similarly, your bank manager will have an exact idea of how your company is performing, as does the tax man: in short, there are no vagaries here. Facts matter; details matter. And if you’re not on board with this then good luck with whatever career you end up in. It won’t be running your own business, that’s for sure.

Now, to my regular readers, this is the point where you most likely sit up and expect me to either contradict myself wonderfully, play Devil’s Advocate or otherwise say something else that’s incredible (sometimes I even go the extra mile and attempt all three).

Well, no, not really. Sure, facts and specific numbers are very important. The above examples aptly highlight as much. But passion and feelings matter in this business for obvious reasons. And some less so.

Firstly, think about yourselves. If you’ve just recently started out in this industry, you surely didn’t get involved in this industry because it was such an easy way to make money, did you? There’s easier ways to earn the cash.

No, you’re doing it for the passion. The passion that comes from the explosion of ideas in your head – presumably at least some of them are naughty – then the creative process of designing your first product range, or getting involved in the brand creation process. And it’s that same passion you want to be reminded of when you’re neck deep in invoicing or webpage meta descriptions and H1 and H2 tag writing.

And what about customers? How important is all this to the people considering buying your wares?

Very.  To such an extent that it will directly affect whether they buy from you or not. For decades we’ve been told consumers are generally quite sensible when it comes to purchasing things. Yes, the use of emotion to influence and drive purchase behaviour is nothing new per se but at the same time it was often looked down upon, especially in B2B markets. We also had the oft quoted ‘Rational Consumer Theory’ bouncing around.

But with advances in medical imaging technology and neuroscience (and subsequently neuromarketing), things have changed dramatically.

I’ll spare you most of the science but it largely involves the brain’s limbic system and Somatic Marker Theory (read up on it at your leisure). Put simply, there’s a whole bunch of arguments now maintaining that it’s our emotions that are not only influencing our consumer decision making but are the absolute driving force. We act on emotion and will then analyse, justify and rationalise it later with information. Furthermore, our emotional decision making is far quicker than our comparatively ‘lazy’ rational decision making process. Our emotions are driving luxury and pleasure purchases: are you sitting up yet, wondering how you incorporate this in your own marketing? You’d better be.

Think about your prospects’ current emotional state. Perhaps it’s sadness, fear, anger or disgust. Now think about the emotional state you want them to be in once they’ve read your product webpage, advert or Instagram caption. Excitement, envy, happiness? There’s a list of nearly twenty emotions you can pick and choose from, and subsequently use to your marketing advantage. So get thinking about how you can really improve your content for the better by evoking favourable emotional responses from your target audience.

For retailers thinking about website product pages, don’t just regurgitate what your suppliers have sent you. Get emotional! Have some brilliant imagery that ties in with the big idea surrounding the particular product in terms of its features or how or where it can used etc. Then before you go anywhere near a sales pitch, get your prospects emotionally involved. Tell a story, paint a picture or scenario that’s relatable, gets their juices flowing and stirs the requisite emotions and feelings. Only when you think you’ve got them duly tempted and absorbed in what you’ve got to say, do you then think about mentioning your features, but more so the benefits. Remember: sell the sizzle and not the sausage!   

So while I’m still unrepentant about my feelings towards individuals who can’t discuss or debate without throwing hissy fits and becoming melodramatic, I’m all for emotion in the context of the erotic retailing industry. The more the better actually.

In the first instance I want to see emotion and passion from the individual erotic entrepreneurs at the start of their journey and maintained throughout. I want to see the conception, birth and subsequent management of really distinctive and meaningful brands. Brands that aren’t just liked, but ones that customers really emotionally connect with: so much so that they’re not just merely emotional, but positively evangelical, singing your praises far and wide.

Then when it comes down to the nitty gritty of making a profit, you’re only going to do so if you continue on the metaphorical love train. Exploit (within reason of course!) the way our emotions rule the roost. Make sure your website gives prospects no real alternative but to be driven by their emotions. And it’s the same for your Instagram captions, and your email subscribers.

So in the battle of facts and details versus feelings and emotions who wins? It has to be considered a healthy draw. Both are essential as is an understanding of when they should be employed to best effect. That and a very factual, highly specific, highly quantifiable, and very satisfying monthly sales report!

Brian can be contacted at lasciviousmarketing.com, found on Instagram @lasciviousmarketing or phoned on +44 (0)141 255 0769.