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Don't Discount the Business Power of Emotions

By Jeff Kagan
Jan 23, 2018 10:22 AM PT

What accounts for the amazing success of Apple and Starbucks? They both connect with users on an emotional level. This "secret" is evident to anyone who looks closely, and you can apply it to succeed with your own company and improve your own life.

Apple was a struggling computer maker until the 1990s, when Steve Jobs returned. Jobs connected with the user base in a new way. Customers loved him -- he created an emotional connection with the company.

That emotional connection helped Apple grow rapidly, even with several missteps along the way. The iPod, iPhone, iPad and more have lulled users into a comfortable cocoon that has been pretty much bulletproof, so far.

Ties vs. Turtlenecks

Think of how Apple compares to Microsoft. Microsoft is more like IBM. Perhaps its employees don't wear suits, white shirts and ties, but that's no longer true at IBM either. Still, the analogy holds: Microsoft is a large and powerful company, but without emotion.

On the other hand, Apple has more of a hippie persona -- you know, Apple employees are warm-hearted folks sporting jeans and flip flops, and wanting to save the world. Yes, Apple is run by smart business people, but the company's brand oozes emotion. Terms like "love" seem to apply to Apple, not Microsoft.

Starbucks is another example. Its customers get a warm and fuzzy feeling going to their favorite coffee shop. There are many other companies that fit the Apple and Starbucks model. Appealing to emotions is a winning model.

When companies succeed in getting their customers to fall in love with them, they win loyalty. Even when the company makes a mistake, its customers don't run to competitors. Instead, they give them the time and room they need to fix their problems. Loving a company lets customers forgive the occasional screw-up, and every company screws up from time to time.

Staying Power

Apple has survived problems in the last decade what would have sunk other companies. Remember antenna-gate several years ago? Now it is dealing with battery-gate. I predict Apple will get past this new problem as well, simply because its users love the company -- and love is the key.

Apple and Starbucks each filled an emotional need that previously had not been addressed. I am not suggesting these companies don't make mistakes -- they make plenty. However, their customers don't leave, due to the emotional connection.

If you can focus on making strong emotional connections in your company, as well as in your professional life and your personal life, you may find yourself on the same winning wave as Apple and Starbucks. It's worth some consideration.

Jeff Kagan has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2010. His focus is on the wireless and telecom industries. He is an independent analyst, consultant and speaker. Email Jeff.


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