The Business of Selling Love
By Erin Bosik
March 14, 2017
What is love if not a language?
It’s an experience. A feeling. An action. A point of view. It’s all of these things and more, but perhaps most importantly—and for the purposes of this blog, at least—it’s a mode of communication. As a copywriter, I get to evoke all kinds of emotions through the written word, and love might actually be one of the easiest because it can manifest itself in so many unique forms.
When I think about my work in branding, the goal is pretty much always the same: get people to like you. But it’s not in some backhanded way that’s riddled with lies or false advertising (at least not the way I do it). It’s with honesty and attention and a deep-seated desire to find and bond with the people that your brand is built for. Through copy, design, strategy, research, media and a laundry list of other industry buzzwords, branding professionals try to tap into what will attract a certain type of consumer. It’s a lot like blind dating. We try to put each brand’s best foot forward, projecting an image that is authentic and ownable with a certain degree of polish, because hey, you best be putting on the shine when you meet someone for the first time.
This courtship between brands and potential buyers—be it on a package, website, social media or what have you—is an attempt to prove that THIS brand, and ONLY this brand, is the one for them. Your perfect match, so to speak. Seems straightforward enough, but the catch is that you have to know your audience. Like, really know them. After all, you wouldn’t likely fall in love with someone who rubs you the wrong way, just like you’d never buy a brand that doesn’t titillate some part of your heart or mind.
Getting people to fall for a brand goes far beyond this first flirtation though. It is an ongoing relationship that must be maintained with the utmost care. As a brand, you don’t want to be too forward (bombarding people with emails, messages and desperate marketing cries for attention), but you don’t want them to forget about you either. They (and by “they,” I mean smarter people than me who wrote articles on the subject for Forbes, Quickbooks and LinkedIn) say that it can cost anywhere from four and ten times as much investment to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. Sounds a lot like relationships, right? If you don’t act like a total jackass, you should be able to hang onto someone who loves you and is deeply committed to you a lot more easily than hook an entirely new mate.
This is where tone of voice comes in. People want to engage with brands that “get them” on a highly personal level. They want to be understood…cared for…cherished. It’s my job to help brands determine not only what to say, but how to say it. It’s about finding the sweet spot that will produce a genuine (love) connection and, as a result, enduring loyalty. From casual, conversational language to deeply emotive and provocative prose, a brand’s tone of voice is critical in its own self-identity, as well as how it portrays itself to the world.
Tone of voice and point of difference are particularly relevant to the coveted millennial consumer. They demand more from brands, expecting stories that pluck their heartstrings, positive values and higher quality products—all sold in a language they can understand. They need to be wooed, and woo we do. Nearly gone are the days of traditional marketing and communication tactics. Now we strive to disrupt categories, helping brands stand out from the crowd and speak their truths through channels that didn’t exist 5 years, 1 year, even 3 months ago. We have to make it easy for people to fall in love and we have to do it fast because frankly, consumers aren’t willing to put in a whole lot of effort to decipher a brand’s difference before they pick it or disregard it.
So as much as people might think that brand development is just trying to trick people into buying products, I submit that it’s quite the opposite. Brands aren’t trying to pull one over on you just to make a sale. They’re trying to prove that they’re worthy of your love.
Read more about Erin Bosik at erinbosik.com