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Straight to the Heart – A Guide to Heartfelt Marketing

Posted on: April 6, 2023
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Posted by Ashley

Here at Pulse, we say we’re in the business of “Heartfelt Marketing,” and it’s not just something we say; it’s something we live out. But what does “heartfelt marketing” even mean?

In the most basic terms, heartfelt marketing is marketing that gets to the heart of both the business and its ideal client. The thing I love most about heartfelt marketing as a writer is that it’s story-based, meaning we use the power of story to get our client’s products and services to the customers who need them. It might sound simple now that I’ve explained it, but there’s actually a lot of research and science to back up this marketing method.

A Bad Rap

Marketing, in general, tends to have a pretty sad reputation. While we live in a culture consumed by capitalism, we still get the ick when someone talks about marketing, advertising, sales, or anything whose end goal is to get you to buy something. Our culture finds it tacky at best and untrustworthy at worst, despite that it’s the entire foundation of our economic systems.

As a result, a lot of customers are turned off by marketing tactics, and a lot of business owners are afraid of the reputation (and the cost at the expense of that reputation!).

Let’s be honest; there’s a good reason for being wary of marketing ploys. Marketing can be an industry that lacks integrity and takes advantage of human psychology to seemingly manipulate people into parting with their hard-earned money. Marketing is fantastic at wrapping a pile of poop in gold and making you want it. But I would argue that we don’t distrust the marketing field so much as we dislike the fact that we can be easily swayed.

Elusive and Exclusive

We’ve all been caught up in a marketing frenzy. As a child of the 90s, I remember begging my parents for a Tamagotchi to the point where, as each Christmas and birthday passed without one, I was convinced my parents were cruel and hated me. So imagine my disappointment when I finally got to play with a friend’s Tamagotchi and realized it was pretty stupid and boring. While this might seem like a silly example, how many of us have fallen prey to the same way of thinking over something more significant and far more expensive than a keychain with buttons?

I was talking with a relative recently about the organization they work for. They were frustrated that in a (mostly) post-Covid world, it’s increasingly difficult to get people to participate in events they used to flock to. Where pre-Covid their attendance numbers ranged in the hundreds, now they’re lucky if they get even a hundred people to show up. I told her the research supports her observation, but it’s even worse! She didn’t factor in that this is a Southern California organization, and we don’t do things in SoCal unless we’ve got FOMO- The fear of missing out.

She was super confused by my statement, so I explained that in the research on how to get people from SoCal to participate in anything, you need two things: 1. A sense of exclusivity, and 2. To convince them they are really missing out on something special if they don’t show up. In fact, the research shows that no matter how passionate someone is about an event or cause when it comes to participating, they simply won’t unless these two things exist. And Covid made this worse and spread this idea beyond SoCal.

This blew her away, and she got super excited about figuring out how to implement these two things into promoting their next event. But then she got quiet and uncomfortable as reality sunk in, and she realized that this was true about her too. More often than not, she won’t participate in something unless it feels exclusive, and she is afraid to miss out on the experience.

Research is research is research…

The reason I bring this up is that whenever I tell someone this little fact, they go on the same emotional rollercoaster; enlightenment followed by, dare I say, disgust. 

No one likes to feel manipulated, and oftentimes marketing tactics can feel like manipulation. However, research is research and neutral; at least, this is true of good research. Research should be about uncovering facts. It’s like holding up a mirror to our habits and ways of thinking and revealing our patterns and behaviors. Knowing these patterns and behaviors of ours is incredibly powerful and valuable. It’s how we change bad habits, how we course correct bad behavior, and how we recognize and expand the good we do. 

But we shift the blame when we see things about ourselves that we don’t like or that make us feel weak, rather than accepting it or intentionally working hard to change it.

So when we see marketing research that says Southern Californians need to feel like they are missing out on something super exclusive in order to participate in events, we don’t see an interesting reflection of our cultural values; we see an area where we can be manipulated by someone. And it’s so much easier to vilify the marketing campaign than to admit we don’t like how shallow this makes us feel.

But is it actually shallow? Is it actually manipulation?

The Power of a Story

When we use Heartfelt Marketing, we can answer those questions better. 

There’s also a ton of research out there that shows that human beings learn best through storytelling. It’s why religious leaders posed spiritual, ethical, and moral lessons in the form of a story. It’s why we can feel changed or enlightened after watching a movie or reading a novel. Story is kind of like learning by osmosis; most of the time, you’re learning the lesson it has for you, and you’re not even aware of it. It’s why we read to babies stories that teach the ABCs and 123s!

And that’s why we often feel bamboozled when we get caught up in a lie, gossip, or drama. It’s why we get in stupid fights with friends or family over a tabloid sensation! Story is neutral; it can be our best learning tool or weaponized to create division. So when we use stories in marketing, there’s a big responsibility that comes with it. Presenting you or your business in a dishonest light to tell a better story will bite you in the butt, and exaggerations will catch up with you. It can be tempting to embellish your story, but we don’t believe that’s what clients want in the first place.

Own the truth, own your truth

The thing that helps all stories leave an impact on their audience is the truth of it. We want to trust that the good guy wins in the end. We want to believe that the villain gets his. And we want to believe it when the salesperson tells us that this new car will solve all 99 of our problems. How often do we kinda know they’re not telling the whole truth, but man, we want to believe them! 

But the truth is, a new car can solve a number of problems you might actually be facing. So that should be the focus of the marketing. 

The best thing you can do is get to the heart of your business. Why did you get into this business? What do you love most about it? Those are a few of the questions that will help form your Heartfelt Marketing strategy. Those are the things your clients will love to hear. Those are the things that remind your client that you’re human too, and ultimately, you’re here to help them find a solution to at least one of their problems or needs.

It’s a group effort

One of the things we hear a lot from our would-be clients is that they really don’t know their stories. And it’s true; some businesses feel like they don’t have a great story about following their bliss and passion until they built up the company they’d dreamed of since kindergarten. So why are they still in business?

It can be hard to see the whole plot from the inside. This is why working with an agency can be the best way to find and tell your unique story. Having a team of highly trained and skilled folks on your side means they can objectively hear your business’ origins, mission, and values and help you pull out the story that was always there. 

When it comes to Heartfelt Marketing, think of an agency as the editor and publisher of your brand story. It’s your work, story, and passion; we just make sure the people who need you find you!

We hope this gave you a better idea of what Heartfelt Marketing is and the power it has to transform your business. 

If you’re ready to tell your heartfelt story, Pulse is here to help. So get in touch today, and let’s tell a great story together.

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