What We Can Learn from Emoticons and Use in Our Marketing, Management

lessons of the emoticons

The popularity of emoticons and emojis is no accident. Further, Facebook’s desire to cash in on emojis is no accident either.

All of these phenomena are testimony to the fact that we are hard-wired to be emotional beings. Let me ask you a simple question: Have you ever had an argument in your life and afterward said something like, “I can’t even remember what we were fighting about”? Nonetheless, you were able to remember the feelings of anger and frustration, right?

Or how about this: Have you ever said “I’m sorry” to someone to have your apology rejected because the other person didn’t like the tone of your voice? When this happens the emotion expressed by the tone of your voice far outweighs the “logical” message of the words you have spoken as they would be defined in the dictionary.

If you are selling something that can be generally categorized as a commodity, one of the best ways to separate yourself from other sellers is by making an emotional connection to your customers. I made this point with regards to writing a tagline for your business in a recent post, but I want you to see the importance of playing to emotions in the bigger picture.

I’ve seen the basic emotions broken down into five groups:

  • Fear,
  • Disgust,
  • Sadness,
  • Anger, and
  • Enjoyment.

facebook emoticonsEmoticons, however, break down much further. Here are just a few of the names, emotions, feelings, and gestures of some of the most-used emoticons (you’ve probably sent or received these many times yourself):

  • laughing
  • very happy
  • frown
  • sad
  • angry
  • crying
  • surprise
  • kissing
  • winking
  • tongue sticking out
  • skeptical
  • indecision
  • embarrassed
  • blushing
  • devilish
  • cool
  • bored

These, and more, all symbolize emotions and feelings that you can leverage in your business – if you think creatively. Let me give you some examples.

I bet that there’s a furniture, mattress outlet, or car dealership in your area that does or did crazy things in its television commercials. In a memorable episode of Seinfeld, they spoof these kinds of promotions with a character who does TV commercials for a local electronics store who is crowned like a king and spouts, “Nobody beats the Wiz!”

That kind of over-the-top advertising will always generate some kind of emotion. The writers on Seinfeld knew that it would make people laugh (enjoyment) but I’m sure it stirs disgust or anger in others. But, I think few would be emotionally neutral and everybody remembers these kinds of commercials.

Have you eaten at a Dick’s Last Resort? They make a living by insulting their customers. Don’t go, by the way, if you have a thin skin. But your experience at Dick’s Last Resort is tame compared to the verbal drubbing and cursing out you’ll get at The Weiners Circle in Chicago.

Of course, many local, family-owned diners have lasted for generations for exactly the opposite reason; when you eat there you are relaxed and welcomed like you’re part of the family – you’ll hear nothing but a kind word.

You can add an emotional element to every facet of your business. It can be in the atmosphere you set, the marketing materials you produce, the events you hold, the way you answer the phone, the relationship you have with your employees, and every other little slice of your small business life.

If a prospect “feels” better about doing business with you than with your competition, you will almost always get the business, even if your price might be a little higher. So take a look at all the emoticons and emojis that are popular today and see if you would associate any of them with any aspects of your business. When you make a connection, try to heighten it. If you discover that your business fails to generate any feelings, find ways to inject some emotional content into the way you conduct your business.