I stumbled upon the four Emotional Appeals on a dark night in Vancouver. Quite literally—I was sitting in front of my laptop in the late hours, searching frantically for something that would help me take my business to the next level.
At the time I was a recently separated mom with two young children. I needed to boost my business—and fast.
As a ferocious reader, I knew that some of the best business and personal development advice come from previous generations—the original sources. So when I came across a tattered copy of Roy Garn’s “The Power of Emotional Appeal” on Amazon, I decided to purchase it.
The book promised rather outrageous things—like increasing your salary, improving your relationships…the list went on and on. It sounded like the book was capable of changing every single area of your life. Published in the 60s, people in advertising had not yet caught on to the idea that more is less and less is more.
A few nights later, curled up with a glass of wine I read the book. And then, everything changed.
It wasn’t an overnight change.
First, I applied everything Garn taught to my business and grew my business from my bedroom into one of “British Columbia’s Top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies”.
Then, some years later when having an argument with my ex-husband (whom I was trying to co-parent with and failing miserably), I had the idea to try it out on my personal life. And then my personal life changed. I went onto less fighting while co-parenting with my ex and finding the man of my dreams. Other personal relationships improved as well.
For me, the four Emotional Appeals were the last puzzle pieces in a long personal development, communication, and marketing journey. Not that I didn’t keep learning after that (there’s always more), but they were the pieces that made my puzzle come together. In my upcoming book “Emotional Magnetism,” I speak about using them together with the powerful communication tools I use as a communications and marketing strategist. The same tools that have seen startups and large companies alike improve their bottom line.
As it turns out, the book cover for “The Power of Emotional Appeal” did not lie—the book had the power to transform everything. So, let’s have a look at the four Emotional Appeals.
In short, there are four main things that motivate people to take action. They are emotional magnets if you so like, or emotional needs.
For some, when buying a car, the most important thing is safety. For others, it’s knowing that they get value for their money—either a cheap deal or incredible quality for a good price tag. For yet others, the experience of driving the car is the most important thing. They envision themselves comfortably driving in a convertible, or riding through the dust of the desert in a 4×4. Yet others need to know that the car they buy reflects their achievements in life…or can help them achieve something new, like winning a challenging race.
And right there, you have the four Emotional Appeals: Safety, Value, Experience, and Achievement. I find it helpful to remember the acronym, S.A.V.E. for the four emotional appeals (probably because they literally saved my life).
Those who are drawn to Safety like to know what they are getting themselves into at all times. They like routine and everything being in its place. When they decide on a career, they lean heavily towards one that will bring them a “safe” career path. They dislike change and aren’t particularly spontaneous. They might drive off on road trips like a true adventurer, but they’ve mapped out the route upfront, brought a first aid kit, and ensured their car was serviced.
People drawn to Achievement like a good challenge as much as they like having their name in lights. They want to achieve goals and receive awards, love mingling with the “right” people in their chosen field, usually dress to impress, and enjoy being seen to have achieved many things in life. From elite sportsmen who thrive on pushing their own boundaries every day to Hollywood stars, achievers can be found in every field. Not everyone dreams of being on the front page of a magazine—some might hide behind computer screens under a fake name, but they know they’re one of the best programmers in the world. That’s not to say that all achievers like effort—some rather cleverly find the path of least resistance to reach their goals.
Those drawn to Value need to know that every experience they get themselves into is worth their time. Likewise, if they purchase something it better be worth their money. They are drawn to cheap deals and high-quality items (usually a mixture of both—they always calculate what’s the better option). If they invest their time in a person, a business, or an adventure, they’re sure to know what their ROI will be. Quality friendships, business deals, and cheap eateries are some of the things they’re often attracted to. If you waste their time, energy, or money, they won’t be pleased.
Those who are attracted to Experience love a good adventure! They thrive when adapting to change and abhor routine. Their minds need to be stimulated, their hearts engaged, and their sense of adventure peaked. They like to learn and evolve. Unfortunately, they also often jump ship before completing a task, easily get frustrated, and blow into town promising ten things and only deliver on three because they are invited to Tahiti before they get around to item four. They are wonderful event planners, storytellers, and can come up with the most romantic and marvelous dates.
All four Emotional Appeals have upsides and downsides. For example, someone drawn to Safety in a best-case scenario is a well-balanced individual with an organized life. In a worst-case scenario, they are constantly worrying about things—needing safety where there is none.
While most of us have one main Emotional Appeal (in some cases: two), we all have a little bit of everything. You might be Achievement driven in your career but be more drawn to Safety in your personal life. Humans are multifaceted individuals.
However, most of us have one or two main Emotional Appeals and when we speak to someone, plan surprises for someone, ask someone out to a restaurant, or do pretty much anything else, it’s important to remember what those Emotional Appeals are. Why?
Imagine inviting someone for a trip to Bali. You tell them the trip will be an adventure, you’ve only booked a hotel for the first two nights, you’ll drive around the island on a scooter, and find the best beaches for surfing.
Now, if this person is driven by Experience—great. They’ll jump on the opportunity. If, on the other hand, they’re driven by Safety, they’ll want to know upfront where they’re staying. They’ll want to know that it’s safe to drive a scooter on Bali. They’ll likely want to know if any vaccines are needed for the trip and if you’ve bought health and trip insurance.
If it’s a person driven by Value, they’ll want to know if the accommodation will either provide quality for the money invested or give them a bang for their bucks. Is food cheap or expensive? What’s the quality of food like? How about the airplane tickets? What airline is it? What are the perks of flying with that airline? And will the experience of going to Bali be worth the overall price tag and time invested? Will the activities you partake in and the people you hang with be worth it?
Lastly, if a person is driven by Achievement, they’ll want to know they will either meet surfing teachers or waves that will challenge them to become better surfers. Or maybe they’ll want to know if they’ll get to hang with the surfing “it-crowd.” Is it likely that a paparazzi will catch a photo of them with a celebrity on a hidden beach? Are the rich and famous (or the previously mentioned surfer it-crowd) staying at the same hotels that you’ll be staying at? Or maybe the hotels have been recommended by powerful influencers? Will the trip give them Insta moments to capture and share with their following?
If you don’t provide experiences people are comfortable with, they won’t want to join you. The same goes for buying a house together with someone, deciding what restaurant to visit next, or offering them a job. Does the item or experience meet their emotional needs? If not, they won’t be interested.
In close personal relationships, you often must learn to satisfy both your and the other person’s emotional needs. If not, one or both of you will be unhappy.
Interestingly, our emotional needs can also lead us astray. The Safety driven person might pay more than they can afford for a car that’s been rated high for safety. The Experience driven person will jump on a plane to anywhere at the drop of a hat, not considering the consequences. Emotions propel us to do all sorts of things. And until we become aware of them, we’re a slave to them.
And this, my friends, is how knowing the Emotional Appeals can change your life. Not only can you prevent being led astray by your emotions — but you can also ensure you choose jobs, partners, homes, trips, etc. that cater to them. Lastly, and very importantly, you can ensure that the emotional needs of those around you are catered to so that you are able to build harmonious relationships with them and ultimately, communicate to connect.
To find out what your main Emotional Appeals are, take this quiz. Then have your friends, family, and partner take it to find out what theirs are! You’ll have a lot of fun communicating your emotional appeals to one another and learning what you each need to be heard and understood. Enjoy!