Quote attributed to Zig Ziglar
Talk to anyone involved in marketing and the conversation will quickly turn to the important role emotions play in successful communication. Studies actually show emotionally charged events create powerful memories, and leveraged appropriately these memories can motivate people to take action. So, it makes sense marketers make it a priority to tap into emotions when communicating their brand promise.
In the world of Economic Development, the role of emotions is often understated or under appreciated. It is generally argued site selection choices are made based on an objective review of factual information provided in the RFP process, and in the end the size of the incentive package is the key driver of choice. What ED Professionals fail to acknowledge is factual data are used to eliminate locations from consideration rather than to make a final selection. In fact, the entire location decision process is designed to winnow down options to the point where remaining location choices are indistinguishable because each meets or exceeds the project criteria. And rather than money being the ultimate decision driver it is actually emotions. How many times have you heard a competing location won a project because the company CEO felt the community was a better fit?
If you do not consider the role emotions play in the capital investment decision, there is a good chance your community is not competing effectively and will lose many more deals than it wins. If you find the documented reason for having lost deals over the last five years is not offering a large enough incentive package, it is a clear sign your community leadership did a poor job of dealing with the emotional side of the decision.
Having said that, what are the typical emotions you might consider leveraging in the communication of your community promise?
There are a number of articles on this subject. But, to make it easy for you I have compiled a list to consider. These emotional adjectives generally represent the answer to the question of “How is the decision maker feeling?”. A question that should be asked and answered frequently throughout the RFP process.
This list is from Dr. Gloria Wilcox’s “The Feeling Wheel”.
Core Emotions: sad, mad, scared, joyful, powerful, peaceful
Secondary Emotions: hurt, guilty, ashamed, depressed, lonely, bored, tired, content, thoughtful, intimate, loving, trusting, nurturing, faithful, important, appreciated, respected, proud, aware, hopeful, creative, cheerful, energetic, sensuous, excited, anxious, insecure, submissive, helpless, rejected, confused, critical, hateful, selfish, angry, hostile
Tertiary Emotions: fascinating, stimulating, amused, playful, optimistic, surprised, successful, worthwhile valuable, discerning, confident, thankful, secure, serene, responsive, pensive, relaxed, sleepy, apathetic, isolated, inferior, stupid, remorseful, distant, sarcastic, frustrated, jealous, irritated, skeptical, bewildered, discouraged, insignificant, inadequate, embarrassed, overwhelmed, daring
The classic use of The Feeling Wheel is for self-improvement. But, in communication the Wheel can also be used to develop strategies to neutralize negative feelings about your community and leverage positive feelings. If your community makes the short list of consideration for capital investment, then the emotional advantage will be on your side.
The most challenging part of applying The Feeling Wheel is listening. You must listen (or read between the lines if you prefer) to properly assess the emotion of the capital investment decision maker. You can use indirect communication tools (e.g. email, advertising, direct mail, etc.) to establish a favorable emotion toward your community or direct (face-to-face meetings). Every interaction is an opportunity to associate emotions with your community.
The actual how to leverage emotion is an important implementation topic. It is worth studying in some depth. To get you started, click on this article from one of my favorite websites Hubspot. It will open your mind to how emotion can be used.
If you want to learn more about the role of emotion in economic development, I have also written the following blog posts on the subject: