Emotions are NOT a Strategic Outcome

When folks take my Riding the Ramp training each quarter, I ask them to do a live, rough draft of a competitive strategy statement using the theory in my book. Then, they send it to me for critique. 

I regularly get folks who write down emotional states as their strategic outcome.

Interestingly, this is precisely the focus of most major advertising for market-leading consumer brands in food and beverage. It’s true when the brand owns 90% of the market share in its respective segment (e.g., Philadelphia cream cheese has a spot currently exemplifying this approach). 

One thing I did not discuss in my book (among many) is that the concept of outcomes associated with using a product or service has two layers: the immediate symbolic/sensory outcome AND the emotional consequences of meeting the outcome. You could call it the meta-outcome. Oh, dear. 

The primary outcomes are usually functional/pragmatic. Meta-outcomes are emotional but hang on a minute. Emotions themselves are our interpretations of social consequences of events (real or imagined). 

I ask founders to put their observed emotional outcome aside (and use it in marketing communications).  Instead, focus the strategy on the functional/pragmatic outcomes close to the experience of using the product. These are not necessarily utilitarian at all. Enhanced flavor, for example, is an outcome with no real necessity at all. But it is more important to strategy than the emotional consequences of eating something that tastes amazing.

If you want to know the top perceived outcome for your brand, I have just the course for you! VIPs get 25% off, too.

Dr. James Richardson

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