Episode 274

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As marketers we understand the power and influence of a brand. We know that every buying decision we make is based on emotion. This helps explain why some brands garner a cult-like fan base. They understand the power of their emotional triggers. As agencies, we should be brilliant at discerning and leveraging a brand’s specific emotional triggers. But sometimes it’s difficult to help a client see the value in what can appear a bit ethereal. But what if there was a tool to help you validate what you know about your clients’ (or your) brand?

Today’s guest has turned the science of emotion into a tangible tool. Brian Gregory comes from a long publishing and advertising background. He has studied the core emotional triggers that lead to a specific brand’s buying decisions and is using this insight to help agencies and their clients build a better business and ROI.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Brian and I discuss the principles of emotion-based buying, including examples of how it has been used successfully by well-known brands. We also talk about the formula that all good marketing follows, what the big brands fear small businesses will figure out, and why it’s important to have an emotional emphasis in all your marketing communication.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

emotional triggers

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The science of emotion buying marketing
  • An introduction to Admanity, an online tool that defines which of the primal emotions can be best utilized by your clients and your agency
  • How to use the knowledge of emotion buying triggers to increase sales
  • How advertising follows a formula
  • The importance of understanding how emotions are related when it comes to marketing communication
  • How businesses and agencies get advertising wrong
  • What the big brands fear small businesses will figure out
  • Why this is the perfect time for small-to-midsize agencies and brands to embrace the power of emotion buying
  • How an agency can use emotion buying concepts to sell a client on a new campaign
“We don’t make a decision in our mind until we get emotional just a split second before that.” @theadmanity Click To Tweet “When you understand what emotions your brand could or should trigger it gives you the formula for engaging prospects in a way that gets them closer to a buying decision.” @theadmanity Click To Tweet “The brand that attracts is 10 times more powerful than the brand that can only sell.” @theadmanity Click To Tweet “You can’t just say it, you have to make it felt.” @theadmanity Click To Tweet “A typical message is like a Post-It note. You stick it up but two days later it falls off. Emotionally charged messaging is like putting a thumbtack in it. It sticks there forever.” @theadmanity Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Brian Gregory:

Additional Resources:

Speaker 1 (00:01):

It doesn’t matter what kind of an agency you run, traditional digital media, buying web dev PR, whatever your focus, you still need to run a profitable business to build a better agency podcast presented by white label IQ. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. Let us help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable. And if you want down the road sellable bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency, owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host Rue, McClellan. Hey, everybody,

Speaker 2 (00:38):

Colin here from agency management Institute. Welcome to another episode of build a better agency. I am excited to have you here and we’re going to talk about actually one of my favorite topics. Uh, I can remember way back in, um, advertising school and we don’t need to talk about how long ago that was, but I can remember way back in advertising school. One of the lessons that stuck with me is this idea that everything we do in terms of making a buying decision is based on emotion and that whether it’s a tube of toothpaste or it’s a fancy vacation, or it’s a certain brand of jeans, or it’s going with a certain consultant over another, that despite the fact that our brain uses the features and the benefits and the facts to justify the purchase, the purchase is actually triggered by and inspired by a set of emotional responses to not only what we decided to buy, but also what we decided not to buy in that subset.

Speaker 2 (01:51):

And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. But before we get into that, I want to remind you that, uh, we have the 2021 workshop schedule out and available on the website. And so, um, you can find a workshop calendar on the agency management Institute site. And one of the first workshops that’s coming up is coming up in April. I think it’s the sixth and seventh. It’s going to be in Chicago and it’s called running your agency for growth and profit. And we’re going to spend two days talking about best practices around operations, around money, around people around sales, uh, around BizDev. We’re going to talk about all of those things and some best practices that you can employ in 2021 to grow your agency, both in terms of size of that matters to you. But also in terms of profitability, I, I know that we have to keep growing and I am all for that, but sometimes growth isn’t more butts in seats.

Speaker 2 (02:55):

Sometimes growth is in the bottom line or in, or in leveling up the clients that we serve or the employees we have on the team. There are a lot of ways for you to grow. And, um, I don’t want you to focus on just boy. We need to add more head count because that’s not always actually profitable. And so we’re going to talk about all of that in this workshop. So I’m hoping that you will think about joining us in Chicago. Uh, again, April, I’m pretty sure sixth and seventh, but you can learn more about it on the website and we will also put a link to it in the show notes. So let’s go back to our conversation about, uh, emotional buying. And so one of the, the one, one of the reasons why I find this topic fascinating is I, I tend, and I know a lot of you tend to be pretty brand loyal.

Speaker 2 (03:46):

And when I dig down underneath that brand loyalty, it’s always an emotional buying decision, uh, that triggered that first purchase that then got reinforced over and over and over again. Uh, so as many of you know, um, I have a bit of a thing, uh, for Disney and Disney world in particular, but all, all things Disney and, um, you know, people often say to me, how can you, how can you keep going back to the same place and going on the same ride over, you know, and you’re, you’re not a kid anymore drew, so really do you really go on the merry-go-round every time? And my answer is absolutely. And I, the reason why I love it is because for me, it is all wrapped up in family and memories and, and the sort of the values of Disney around storytelling and dreaming, and that anything is possible.

Speaker 2 (04:49):

I, I drink that Kool-Aid all day long. Is it expensive? Yes. Could I go other places? Of course, but for me it is a very emotionally Laden purchase that just gets reinforced every time. And so, you know, literally I’ve been at Walt Disney world at least once a year since it opened in 1971. So think about all of the buying triggers and how that’s all been sort of built up for me. Uh, and so, you know, when I step on that hallowed ground for me, and for, I know some of you it’s, you know, hell on earth that to be around that many people and standing in line to go on a ride or whatever, but for me, it is, uh, it is heaven. And when I step on that hallowed ground, I can just feel my heart swell and my blood pressure drop and I am home.

Speaker 2 (05:42):

And that’s a great example of how we buy with our emotions. But I think for a lot of us, it is challenging to get clients to understand how they, um, how they can focus on that, because they’re so hungry to tell everybody every bell and whistle about their product or service. You know, we often talk about, you know, how clients want us to shove five pounds of information into a one pound bag, but a lot of not only is it too much, but it’s the wrong stuff. And so I think one of our jobs is to help clients understand the power of emotion in marketing communications on any and all channels. And how do you do that in a really genuine way? How do, how is it not manufactured? How is it not fake or forced, but how does it really come from the heart of the brand?

Speaker 2 (06:37):

How do you figure that out? So my guest today is a guy named Brian Gregory and Brian, uh, comes from a long publishing and sort of, uh, on the, on the advertising side of the world, uh, with magazines and newspapers. Uh, but he’s created a product based on this idea of identifying the core emotional triggers that lead to a specific brands buying decisions. And so, uh, we’re going to talk about sort of what a primal emotion is and how we figure out from a, for our client, what that is. And I think a lot of times, honestly, those of you that do this kind of work, this kind of brand building work, uh, for your clients, you do this need of, I think, you know, what some of those emotions are, but we’re going to talk about the complexity of the emotions that are layered underneath the primal emotions and how you, how you use these tools, uh, to help your client grow their business and develop an even greater ROI, which of course strengthens the buying relationship with you.

Speaker 2 (07:50):

And while we’re talking, I don’t want you to forget that you should understand your agency’s brand as well because your clients and your prospects are also buying not based on an intellectual exercise, but on an emotional buying trigger. And so all of us understanding our own agency’s brand and how that brand translates emotionally to prospects and customers, so that we too can tailor our social media, our content, our, uh, taking a position of authority and helping people understand what we know and how we know it and how that will help them. I think we should be factoring all of this in for ourselves as well. So out of one ear, I want you to listen on behalf of your clients, but on the other ear, I want you to listen on behalf of your own shop. All right. So let’s jump into the conversation with Brian, because I think this is going to be fascinating, Brian, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us. Thank you, drew. I’m excited to be here. So give everybody a little idea of what you were doing professionally that led to the creation of the tool that you now, uh, you know, share with, uh, brands with agencies. So give us an idea of your background. Uh, before we start talking about what you’ve learned over the years, that all led to your current endeavor.

Speaker 3 (09:20):

Prior to at Manatee, I was in the publishing business. I had magazines, newspapers, this type of thing, and some of them were very successful for about 20 years. I was the guy selling the ads and managing the publication, the distribution, and all that happy stuff. And so I got the opportunity to sit down with over those 20 years, probably about 5,000 business owners, managers, and marketers, and talking to them about their ad. And of course, trying to sell the ad and in return seeing the artwork that they would give us to put it in the magazine. Some of that, as you can imagine was, was pretty bad and it never got better over the 20 years because everyone you’re dealing with at that level is an amateur, um, at trying to wing it and create an ad on the fly for the magazine whose deadline is tomorrow.

Speaker 3 (10:13):

And there were screaming for the artwork and some graphics person. So I’m probably having a heart attack. And, and so over that time, I realized that what happens is they’ll, they’ll run the ad. Anything they, anything they want, they’ll just stick it in there. And then when about 13 weeks goes by, you get the phone call, Hey, it’s not working your magazine’s no good, but it’s never the ad right now. It’s always, it was always, you know, our cars were the last thing they saw on. So of course they blame it on us. And I realized that I’ve got to start doing something to help these people create a better ad to put into the power magazine, or we’re just going to have this leaky bucket for ever. And I don’t think there’s not enough clients to, to burn through them and hope that there’ll be another one tomorrow to replace them. It’s just an endless chore. And so I really started to hunker down and as a media guy and say, okay, why are some ads working? Why are some ads just missing consistently? And I started to really get deep with the ad and say, okay, these are the emotions that seem to be consistently recurring in the successful ads. The happy clients have this. Why don’t I just give this to everybody? And so that’s kind of how it started for me, uh, almost as a way to keep the business going. Sure.

Speaker 2 (11:38):

Yep. And so what was the aha for you? What w what was the, okay, this is the missing knowledge or link that I can create advantage it, a tool to help people sort of connect the dots.

Speaker 3 (11:56):

Good question. Uh, there was so many epiphanys along the way, this is a seven year journey to create this. And, uh, along the way, there was a lot of things, but I originally had written a book and like a lot of books that it was filled with my best stuff. And, and, and a lot of people read it and they said, man, this is a great book. And I th I said, thank you, you know, proud author. I’m always love to hear the compliments, but then they would say, you know, but I, I, I get it. I understand what you’re talking about, but how does it apply to me? How do I make it, you know, go across the lines of speak from general information to all about me, which is what everybody really wants is the specifics, give me the answers, man. And I realized that the book, no book could really be specific enough to the individual business. And I said, you know what? We’ve got to create something online that anybody could use from anywhere, any business, any niche doesn’t matter what it is. And it has to be fast and it has to be easy to use, but it would give them the answers to their specific brand. That was, that was, uh, a great idea. And I thought, Oh, we’ll take a year. And we’ll figure this out. And seven years later we finally had, but it was a chore. And so, so that’s how it started

Speaker 2 (13:13):

Help the listeners understand what it is that what is the knowledge, what is the aha about the emotions? Cause that’s really what this is all about is right. So help us understand the framework, the intellectual framework of this emotion based theory that you have about what does and doesn’t work for brands.

Speaker 3 (13:36):

Great. You know, the more you read about emotion, you, you start to delve a little bit into the brain and the subconscious mind versus the conscious mind, they’re almost unavoidable topics. And you have, let’s just say everyone has their conscious mind, which about 5% of your, your, your, your thoughts and things and your subconscious, which is 95% of your mental activity. And the subconscious is the brain with the wallet. It’s the one that buys everything because it’s emotionally, that’s where all the emotions are and the dreams, the hopes, the fears, the phobias, everything is emotional. And the subconscious, once you realize that’s where the money is. So to speak, you start to realize is that I need to, to find out what emotions are selling these products. There’s a thousand emotions. We’re all capable of experiencing. But what we found was only 15 are the ones that sell things. And so this emotional theory came down to isolating the emotions that work consistently, and then figuring out how to trigger them subconsciously through advertising, through real simple positioning of the emotions. So anybody can do it, but they took a long time to figure out what to do the actual formulas for using those emotions. And it all comes down to emotionality. We don’t make a decision in our mind until we get emotional, just a split second before that.

Speaker 2 (14:57):

Great. Well, I, you know, in advertise in the advertising world for agencies, we’ve known for years, for decades, I can remember learning this in college was that every emotional decision is a, every buying decision is an emotional decision, but we use the features and benefits to rationally justify what our emotions want us to do. And so that’s true whether it’s toothpaste or a car or a cruise, or, you know, whatever, whatever it may be. So what you’re saying is you’ve narrowed down to the 15 emotions that trigger a buying decision. And then if I understand it, right, and then we’ll talk a little bit about, cause I, I put AMI through your tool. So we’ll talk about that in a minute. But what you’re talking about is there are 15 emotions that trigger the urge to buy. And when you understand what emotions your brand could or should trigger, then that gives you the formula for engaging with prospects and getting them closer to a buying decision. Right.

Speaker 3 (16:03):

Well said, uh, it is all, it all comes down to emotion. It all comes down to these 15 emotions that are just there. They’re always there. And the, the, uh, th the pairing of them, so to speak kind of like molecules, you know, uh, you can have H2O and that’s water at a refreshing drink. You add one oxygen to it, and you’ve got H two O two that’s hydrogen peroxide. You wouldn’t want to drink it, refreshing, drink refreshing. So it makes a lot of difference where which emotions are in the particular formula for this particular brand. And trying to figure that out is the kind of thing where you could spend hours debating it around a table of your best people in your agency, and all these great ideas will come out, but wouldn’t it be nice to just look it up and say, Oh, there it is. Boom done right now. We can save all this time and money and get right to the fun part that creative,

Speaker 2 (16:52):

Right? How did you determine what those 15 emotions were? What makes an emotion, a buying trigger or not a buying trigger?

Speaker 3 (17:01):

You know, technically there are so many emotions you could feel, for example, a love or hate a common emotions. We call them the primal emotions that the 15 they’re primal they’re, they’re sort of, they’ve been with you your whole life. You use them every day. Um, and like love and hate would probably be in there except you can’t really love a product, uh, physically, and you can’t be in a buying mood while you’re hating something that doesn’t really work. So they’re not part of the 15. So what we looked at was truly the types of emotions that are, are, are motivating to acquire and, and why, why certain emotions would not motivate you to, to want more, buy more, get more, um, and they just would put you in the wrong mood to buy so to speak. And that took a long, long time, because as you can imagine, and you can make an argument for almost anything emotionally, how did you figure that out?

Speaker 3 (17:57):

We looked at ads and you can learn a lot from the studying the masters from, let’s just say what it is. Some of the older ads and the ads that have been proven effective again and again, and you just break them down and he say, okay, that worked amazingly well, what did they, okay, what emotions are in that? Let’s, let’s just pick them out and you start to pick out the same ones over and over. And all of a sudden you’re realizing, wow, there’s a, there is definitely a recurring pattern here in all these great ads from, you know, the last 50 years, uh, especially before internet, before social media, all they had was a magazine, right. Or a billboard. I mean, they really had to hit the nail on the head. Right. And you look at these ads and you realize, wow, you know, you don’t have to go to thousands of ads before the pattern starts to emerge. And then it’s just a matter of giving them the right labels, which we, we give, we have 15 different names for the, each emotion in the, in the protocol. So it’s just, it’s just, it’s just the way we present it to you. Uh, that makes great common sense, but it makes great emotional sense when you see them in the ads. It’s, uh, it’s sorta like, yeah, it’s obvious.

Speaker 2 (19:08):

So, so give us an example or a couple examples of the emotions that you call the primal emotion.

Speaker 3 (19:14):

Sure. Authority, which is trust approval, which is popularity temptation, which is a craving prestige, which is based on ego admiration based on envy community, based on belonging, altruism, based on empathy, attraction, based on transformation and improvement. These are the types of emotions that make you want to buy, because you like feeling these emotions or they grab you. They, they tug when they, they, they don’t just knock on the door, man. They come, they pound on it in your heart. Right.

Speaker 2 (19:52):

Well, and I think there are emotions that underlie it that create the need. So, you know, um, so just for the listeners, s