Red Brain, Green Brain: How to Use Emotional Advertising to Drive Sales


Red Brain, Green Brain: How to Use Emotional Advertising to Drive Sales

What causes people to buy the things they need? It’s an age-old question that marketers have been trying to answer for decades. In recent years, they’ve actually stumbled across illuminating new information about the relationship between advertising, what makes people buy, and the way they feel — aka their emotions.

Basically, marketers have learned that the most effective form of advertising is emotion-centric and geared towards getting viewers to feel a certain way. This is because consumers tend to rely on their emotions to make buying decisions, instead of logical facts and information. 

The dichotomy between logical versus emotional buying decisions is further explored by the concepts of red brain and green brain marketing.

What is red brain marketing?

Red brain marketing is focused on the “logical” side of sales — hard facts like product/service features, instructions, methodology, and price fall into this category. While red brain marketing isn’t always a bad thing, think of it like a stoplight. Much like the effect of a stoplight in traffic, red brain marketing can compel the brain to halt and procrastinate decision making, increasing buyer resistance as a result. This is because your buyer gets too caught up in trying to justify the purchase to themselves instead of focusing on the transformation that will occur as a result of buying your product/service.

What is green brain marketing?

Green brain marketing uses real emotions and genuine human experience to encourage consumers to make a buying decision — and it works! The overall purpose of green brain marketing is to make your ideal client feel something instead of feeding them information about your offer/product. When you are able to market your business in a way that appeals to your customer’s feelings, creativity, and imagination, your ideal customer will feel empowered into making a decision. They won’t need to focus on the hard details of the offer (the red brain marketing side of things) because their emotional senses will be stimulated enough to make a choice based on desire alone.

How is emotion used in marketing?

There are four basic emotions that you can tap into in your marketing. Let’s go over what it looks like to speak to each of them in your advertising.

Happiness: Brands that are associated with happy customers and positivity have been proven to appeal to consumers. Positive, upbeat language and promotional materials (including photos of smiling customers) are just two ways brands speak to “happiness.”

Sadness: On the contrary, marketing that tugs at a consumer’s heartstrings can also be incredibly powerful. We’ve all seen the touching commercials about animals in shelters that need homes, complete with the sad musical track in the background. Maybe those advertisements have even driven some of you to donate to the cause. This is a prime example of how brands will tap into “sadness” to achieve a specific goal.

Afraid/Surprised: Fear and surprise aren’t the same exact emotions, but they do elicit similar feelings in consumers when it comes to advertising. Fear creates urgency and prompts us to take action, to change something so that we can avoid a dreaded or undesired consequence; on the other hand, advertisers turn to surprise when they want to capture audience attention and establish a strong brand impression. This is because the part of the brain that has always been associated with pure pleasure really cares about when you get something unexpected — especially if it’s something unexpectedly enticing!

Angry/Disgusted: It might seem counterintuitive to evoke feelings of anger or disgust when you are trying to sell a product/service, but when done strategically, it can be a powerful tactic. Tapping into these emotions works particularly well if your goal is to get your target audience incensed enough that they are triggered into making a move. For example, anti-smoking advertisements don’t hold back when it comes to showcasing graphic images of smokers’ lungs in an effort to ‘disgust’ viewers into quitting smoking and purchasing a nicotine patch instead.

How to incorporate green brain marketing into your existing strategy

While there’s a time and place for red brain marketing, green brain marketing is what will help you drive sales on a deeper, more widespread level. Here are three ways you can start using green brain marketing in your existing strategy today:

  • Be intentional with your messaging
    Review your content (both written and video) with an emotional eye. Green brain marketing is softer and more conversational than red brain marketing, meaning your overall tone in your content + communications should be less formal and instead geared towards creating a friendly rapport with your audience. Lining the entire customer journey with customer-centric, relatable language and imagery will yield big results.

  • Know your audience’s pain and pleasure points
  • In order to tap into happiness, sadness, fear/surprise, or anger/disgust, you need to know what drives these emotions in your audience! Think about…

    • What does your audience want out of life? How can your service or product help them get it?
    • What would make your target consumer sad? 
    • What would shock or scare your target consumer into taking action?
    • What would make your target consumer angry? How can you tap into this anger without creating controversy or resistance?

  • Don’t ignore red-brain marketing completely
  • Sometimes, logic and emotion go hand-in-hand. Your green brain strategy won’t be as strong if you neglect to give your audience ANY hard details about your business or offerings. So, what matters is how you balance the two sides to resonate with your target audience. To follow this rule, try and combine every red brain appeal with greenery; how is your customer feeling, and how does this feature or service solve their problem?

    As a digital marketing and business consultant with over 10 years of hands-on experience, I happen to know a thing or two about how to build a KILLER marketing strategy that combines logic + emotion like nobody’s business to help you improve sales. 

    This is something we can work on when you book a 90-minute intensive with me. If you’re struggling to bring in interest or sales, I highly recommend securing your spot today and we’ll get started on an epic plan together.