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Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success Hardcover – January 28, 2009
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"80% of decisions are made emotionally. And today's business winners will be those who best connect emotionally and empathetically. Reading Emotionomics gives you a head start."
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Hill's company does what is known as facial coding. Facial coding has been around a lot longer than verbal language. We communicate with one another continuously at subtle levels we are generally unaware of. By studying facial responses to inputs, you can find out about how the emotions are truly processing. For example, somebody may say that they like a certain ad, but emotionally they don't trust the characters in the ad and therefore don't trust the brand and won't buy.
I learned about facial coding in my litigation career as well as in my study of neuro linguistic programming. It is often difficult to do in a one-on-one context as the information is moving so fast. Hill's business, Sensory Logic, is able to record facial expressions and then through computer algorithms, is able to provide emotional data. For the rest of this book summary, I will share what I feel are unique insights in the book. It is one of those books I encourage everyone to read.
1. Watch out for feature-itis - Defined by Hill as a company's tendency to over-think and over-execute the design of a product, service or experience by including too many extraneous features.
2. Message-itis - A company's tendency to persuade consumers [employees] by loading up its advertising with extra, rationally-oriented messages that over complicate the execution.
3. On-emotion - Generating an emotional response in a target market that's important to support one's business goal. Being on-emotion is at least as important as being on-message or on-strategy, both of which fail to engage the heart and win people over.
4. Hill tells us that we can avoid the commodity trap by being able to differentiate what a product or service does for consumers on a sensory-emotional level, driven at times by superior functionality.
5. Emotion drives reason more than reason drives emotion. Science shows that we react to inputs emotionally as quickly as we do logically. We can tell somebody how great our company is but if we don't make them feel good about our company, we lose the battle. Visual imagery and other non-verbal forms of communication predominate.
6. People feel more pain from loss than pleasure from profit. The result is loss-aversion behavior, for people will take more risks to avoid losses than they will to realize gains. - The example of this shows up in sales. Once the sales person generates a decent living for themselves, business owners have a difficult time getting them to increase their sales by changing or enhancing their sales strategies. Their fear of losing the comfort zone is much greater than the desire to succeed further. The Facial Action Coding System designed by psychologist Dr. Ekman identifies seven core emotions: surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, contempt, and happiness. Interestingly, happiness can be divided between true smiles and social smiles, the latter which may indicate deceit.
Note: This is something we learned to discern in trial work. When you first depose or examine a witness, you get them to agree to some neutral statements so you can see how their body language reacts when they are being truthful. Then when you push them with hard questions, you can pay attention to how their body language changes. What direction their eyes go in, whether their nostrils constrict, whether they breathe faster or harder. Whether they become flush, fidgety or their Adam's apple starts moving; I've even seen witnesses who wiggle their ears when they're lying!
7. The track record suggests that people tend to say they like something more than their actual feelings merit. This should be a scary statement for management and their employee satisfaction surveys. What if you monitored the employees using the FACS process when they filled out the survey? what results would you get then? According to some large studies done by Hill, when survey ratings were positive, people were in fact positive only 74% of the time.
8. Forget about changing beliefs. This is such an uphill struggle that Hill recommends advertisers avoid it. I can tell you that if it's true for advertisers, it's true for managers as well. Remember the psychiatrist joke, "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer: "Only one, but they have to really want to change!"
9. American citizens most endorse achieving success, hard work, achievement, and self-reliance. In contrast, East Asians focus on self-discipline, a respect for learning, fulfilling obligations, and helping others. Hill also shows how there are enormous discrepancies not just between cultures, but sexes as well.
10. The older we get, the more emotional, visual, and subjective appeal to our rich networks of memories and associations.
11. Hill talks about the importance of stories told by robust personalities. This is a theme I hear repeatedly in the world of marketing. In the advent of YouTube, a well-spoken presentation by a business leader can go a long way to establishing the brand of the company. This means when recruiting, we should have our well-spoken long-term employees tell great stories about working for the company. We can also sprinkle in some new employee experiences as well. Nothing beats a great 3-minute YouTube video from the heart.
12. Brands are for tribes. Callaway is marketing its clubs to one tribe. Victoria's Secret is marketing to another. Savvy advertisers and marketers know the importance of creating and marketing toward a tribe. What does the tribe known as your workforce represent? What's its brand? What's the commonality that creates an emotional bonding they can rally around?
13. Communicate with people using all of their senses.
14. Make people feel like they've somehow "won."
15. Create a story-like experience. What story-like experience can you create for your company? Zappos, Google, Southwest, Costco, and other well-known brands have done a great job of creating a great story or brand about themselves. So have many companies you've likely never heard of. If I walked into your office, would I know what your story or brand is? If I asked that of any of your managers or employees, what would they tell me in response?
16. Watching that something entirely new or overly complex creates extra mental work. This is especially true in change management. Change can only happen one step at a time. Chunk it down to make it less onerous and allow yourself to produce a continuous series of victories.
17. Give people something to think about two weeks after the exposure to your "offer." This can be true for any offer. One an HR executive makes to their CEO; one that you make on your job openings page; the message the CEO delivers to the workforce.
18. Visual obscurity is the kiss of death. I remember walking into a Fortune 500 office looking around, asking myself what their story was, and couldn't think of anything. It looked like they had just moved in last week, the walls were so barren. When I met with an executive, I found out they had been in that office for six years! I believe that visual obscurity in the workplace is a kiss of death.
19. The moment we're confused--poof. Once again, a warning to watch overwhelm. Something I have to continually remind myself of! When you're smart, know a lot, and are highly motivated to make a difference, you can be too strong, fire hose people, and even shut them down. Again, deliver information in bite-sized chunks and don't forget to address their emotional need first.
20. Identify consumers who did not repurchase to find out why they didn't feel rewarded. As in all of these statements, you can substitute in the word "employee" for the word "consumer". Do you know why your employees leave? If not, make sure to take advantage of the Exit Interview on HR That Works.
21. Do your ads/marketing produce "awe"? Do they have "stopping power"? How do you send a strong message without generating a fight or flight response?
22. The equivalent of arsenic in the marketplace is advertising that involves a high degree of complexity and novelty, leading to lots of impact but also to appeal that runs into negative territory.
23. Take any script and cut it in half. Keep words to a minimum. How can you express the thought just as powerfully using half the words?
24. A great deal of advertising dollars are wasted on ads with low emotional appeal. According to Hill, roughly half of all advertising dollars are wasted because of this factor. What if that is also true of management's efforts to motivate employees?
25. The key emotional filters are originality, relevancy, likability, and credibility. Make sure your visuals evoke the desired emotions. I worked with a great gas services company in Florida. Their motto was "We give you the gas." They had cool, original T-shirts and uniforms that all their employees wore. Their dress and branding was very relevant to the work they did. They had the owner and many of their employees in their ads, thereby increasing their likability. They talked about all the training their employees had to go through to work with them, thereby increasing their credibility. While it may seem amazingly simple, how few companies actually meet these standards when managing their employees?
26. Turnover is a killer. While Hill's focus is on the turnover of sales personnel, his message applies to all employees. If you want to reduce your turnover, understand the emotional needs of your employees. Take a look at the Special Report on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, as well as Robert Cialdini's Psychology of Persuasion book.
27. The three critical qualities of a great sales person are up-beat, caring, and resilient. When you hire for these characteristics, you'll not only reduce your training cost and increase your sales, but you'll also reduce your turnover. Hill suggests the following four questions with the following favorable answers.
a. Why did you choose this career? - Response should include a genuine smile.
b. What do you like best about your work? - You don't want to hear any sadness or frustration.
c. How do you handle rejection? - While successful salespeople may feel frustrated, they don't feel sad.
d. How do you handle conflict? Once again, above average salespeople have higher levels of frustration but very little sadness attached to it.
28. Whether we're trying to sell to somebody or trying to manage an employee's performance, do not underestimate the power of asking questions. The sooner you begin asking questions in sales or an employee-based dialogue, the more successful you'll become. According to Hill, successful negotiators ask two-and-a-half times the number of questions as do average negotiators.
29. Follow these steps:
a. Lead with wants, follow with value, and close with price. - This applies to hiring and retaining your employees as well. What wants to they have that you can tap into? What can you offer them in their career? How competitive is your compensation structure?
b. The astute salesperson will stay focused on the prospect during the presentation. - This should be true when setting performance expectations as well.
c. Besides wallet-based issues, what emotional aspects influence the way various prospects respond? - The fact is, every conversation will evoke a number of different emotional responses. We should be able to detect and address them when appropriate.
Hill spends the remaining chapters talking about how he worked in the retail and service industries and how these concepts apply to the workplace. When discussing the latter we should 1) make sure employees believe leadership's goals and interested are aligned with their own, 2) people are using a process in which multiple employees meet the job candidate and in as casual and social an environment as possible, 3) processes in which the company operates feel fair and legitimate, not rigged, 4) deliver bad news early and clearly without using legalese or financialese, and 5) develop communication plans that identify formal and informal points of contact with the company.
Not all businesses may be able to afford facial coding analysis - but understanding the emotions that drive action, and being alert and aware to how your marketing is engaging your audience and the results that get produced can in itself make a big difference.
Dan expertly guides the reader through the case for how emotions pay a critical role for businesses who engage or sell to people -- and how ignoring that can prove disastrous.
I highly recommend this book!
If you want to gain understanding about yourself as well as the behaviors of others, then this book is for you.