Emotional marketing – what is it? More importantly – what does it do? Emotional marketing builds and reinforces the ego. Its messages make your target audience feel smart, prestigious, adventurous – whatever emotions that are vital to their self-esteem and connects them to your brand. The ego-stroke received causes them to purchase brands they associate with feeling good about themselves.

Brands that successfully build egos may build lifetime attachments as well as brand loyalty. Loyal followers name-drop these brands to say something important about themselves. These brands just seem to “get you,” and in return, you get them.

People can become so impassioned about brands that they tattoo them on their bodies, wear clothing emblazoned with logos and slogans, even use them as social networking profiles like, “Harley Guy.” Some support their preferred brands by boycotting restaurants that don’t serve their favorite cola. These brands develop emotional connections. They make friends with their audience and their audience responds by being true to them.

Emotional marketing slips into our lives without us really thinking about it. That’s genius! How does it happen? There are numerous ways to provide an emotional connection with your brand, bring it to life and use it to grow your business. The key is to tap into the emotions that we all want to feel, like desirability, familiarity, comfort, stability or excitement.

For instance, take Harley-Davidson Motor Company. In 1903 William Harley and Arthur Davidson, both in their early twenties, built their first motorcycle. During the first year of production, they produced a whopping one bike. By 1910, they had sold 3,200. That same year, seven different first-place finishes were captured at races, endurance contests and hill-climbs across America. All seven winners were riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The company capitalized on this win and their reputation as a “muscle” bike was born. By 1920, dealers were selling their bikes in 67 countries. By 1929, sales reached 21,000 units per year. Why? People wanted to be associated with a brand that represented power, endurance and winning. It also didn’t hurt that they had a great product. But people were purchasing the image too.

Later, celebrity riders like Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley and the film “Easy Rider” provided the roaring machines with a cult-like following. But again, it wasn’t just the bike people wanted – it was the thrilling leather clad bad boy image that came with it.

Today, Harley-Davidson has their own magazine, riding clubs, fashions, gift items and more. They no longer sell a motorcycle. They sell a lifestyle. They sell a freedom-loving, excitement-driven emotional experience. People who don’t even own a Harley want the trappings of the image it represents.

Consumers are no longer a captive audience to every commercial or ad. With today’s media options, they don’t have to be. Now they’re looking for new brand experiences and emotional responses. They expect your products and services to have a story to tell. Whether it’s all about the “bad boy” excitement of Harley-Davidson or the organic, barefoot-worthy plush lawn provided by “insert your business here” – more and more, companies are following the emotional marketing trend.

Do consumers feel pride when they have a green, carpet-smooth lawn? Do they feel safe and confident allowing their children to play in an organically treated, pest-free environment? Perhaps they’re relieved that they don’t have to worry about ticks that carry Lyme disease. Whatever emotion, wishes or desires associated with your product or service, tap into it – then grow your business by making your target audience “feel” your brand.