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Marketing To The Heart: A Lesson From “Gladiator”

By April 6, 2012July 1st, 2015Marketing Insights & Strategy
Marketing To The Heart: A Lesson From "Gladiator"

Proximo: Listen to me. Learn from me. I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.

Maximus: I will win the crowd. I will give them something they have never seen before.

Wise old Proximo, the gruff retired champion gladiator.  Now that guy knew how to push people’s buttons.  He knew killing was good enough for the provinces, but not Rome.  He could win the match by just doing his job – thrusting his sword into another man’s flesh – but he could win the hearts of the crowd by giving them a show.  That’s how he became champion.

Yes, we’re knee deep in a metaphor here.  If you have a product or service that works well, does what it’s intended to do, and is priced fairly – the rational reasons for buying a product – it gets you in the game.  It gives you a chance, because logically, it may make sense.  But it’s the other stuff that you bring to the table that separates you from the pack.  That’s the stuff that gets people excited.

As price sensitive as people are these days, purchasing decisions – and more importantly, loyalty – are both based on emotion, not logic, whether we’re talking about business-to-business or business-to-consumer marketing.  Sure, logic plays a part, but emotion is the main driver.  Logic merely supports and helps to justify our emotional decisions.

Why does a car salesman want you to test drive a car?  Why might a realtor show you a home that’s priced outside your budget?  Why can you play with all of the latest gadgets before you buy?

Because after you’ve fallen head over heels in love and become emotionally attached to something, your little checklist of logical requirements goes out the window.  And suddenly, that budget that was once set in stone is about as firm as a bowl of jello.

So what is this “other stuff” that’s so important to making an emotional connection?

Recent research suggests that more and more people are looking for a special, stimulating experience that makes them smile.  A product that they wouldn’t mind being associated with, personally or professionally.

An experience that they would want to share with others.  Not just the experience of using the product, but the experience leading up to and after the purchase.

It’s less about function (logic) and more about feel (emotion).  This isn’t a new concept by any means, but with the ability to instantly share information, experience and feel are more important than ever.

Loyalty now hinges on companies creating a mindset that says “I want it,” not “I need it.”  Focus less on what your product does and more on how it will make your target audience feel.

Consider the case of Wayfair, an ecommerce company that sells home furnishings.  According to a story on CNBC, CEO Niraj Shah claims customers from Pinterest have a significantly higher order size than customers referred from other sites.  The reason?

“It’s about the pictures,” he said. “You have decided you like it before you know what it costs. The more you decide you love it, the more you are going to be willing to stretch to buy it.”

The effectiveness of photos vs. text vs. video or any other rich media is a debate for another day.  The point here is that the evidence points to shoppers spending more because they have already formed an emotional connection to the product and are inspired to buy.

As you work to win the hearts of your target audience, do as Maximus promised and give them something they’ve never seen before.  Be different.  Or, as I said in a previous blog about today’s empowered consumer, be different by doing one thing better than anyone else.

And be different not just in function, but by offering an experience that clearly differentiates you from your competition.  Instead of dropping your price floor, raise your overall game.

If you think the same old routine is enough to achieve your goals, just remember something else Proximo said to Maximus in Gladiator.

“You are good, Spaniard. But not that good. You could be magnificent.”

Anyone else have goosebumps?

How has a company or brand won your heart and loyalty?  What do you do to win the hearts and loyalty of your clients?