THE RIOT POINT

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It gets emotional riding the rails

I’ve just finished working on a job that took me to the heart of downtown Toronto for several weeks. To save time and parking money I decided to use public transit although I’m usually more inclined to take the car, particularly when not working in the urban core.

I must confess that I love people watching and of course the subway is a great place to indulge my hobby. I’m amazed at the proliferation of new technology among my fellow riders. There are far more iPods, iPhones, eReaders and tablets than newspapers and books. Now you can watch a movie, play a complicated video game or listen to a business tutorial while the train rocks you gently to your destination. Obviously, plain old people watching is not good enough for the majority of my fellow travellers but I still prefer it even though I own an iPod and an Ereader and love them both.

Besides sneaking looks at my neighbours on the train I also love looking at all of the ads plastered all over the interior of the subway car and the walls of the numerous stations that we stop at. It’s not too surprising I guess, after a lifetime spent in advertising and marketing, that I would be interested in the myriad messages competing for our attention on the subway system. However, given my age and economic status almost none of these ads are aimed at me or people like me. If I’m really honest with myself there is nothing that I need and almost nothing that I truly want. 

I know I’m not the target audience for most of the ads but I still find myself drawn to a particular ad from time to time. It might be a clever headline, a compelling image or even a surprising choice of colours. It’s not the same element every time but I find myself really captivated by the story. It could be an ad for a kid’s candy bar, a new radio station or even a woman’s perfume. I’m definitely not the target audience and yet I take in the whole ad and often remember it and the brand name for weeks.

 Why do these specific ads cut through the clutter and resonate with me? Because they surprise me and intrigue me. They get inside my brain. Ultimately they connect with me on an emotional level. And that is very powerful stuff.

 Making an emotional connection with your audience through your communications with them is critical and a very important part of building a dominant brand. It is too often forgotten; particularly in BTB communications, where we often get inundated with specs, model numbers and performance promises. But it is the emotional connection that will make your customers come back and most importantly become spokespeople for your product and services. Take it from an old timer who’s not buying anything. An emotional connection is a powerful tie that will give you a critical advantage over your competition.

Simon LuntComment