Emotional intelligence may not be something that’s currently on your radar, but if you want to establish a strong brand that attracts, and retains, loyal customers, then it certainly should be.

In the current digital era, anything that raises your business profile above the crowd is to be welcomed, and emotional intelligence is a tried and tested means of doing exactly that.  Knowing how to affect the emotions and behaviour of your target audience is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that can offer your business a huge advantage over your competitors.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is best described as the ability to understand our own emotions – and those of other people too – and manage them effectively.  Sometimes referred to as EQ, or Emotional Quotient, it relies on us being aware of emotions, and understanding the impact that they can have on behaviour.

We’re all familiar with IQ, which measures intelligence, but many professionals now believe that EQ is actually a far better indicator of business success – and unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be improved and enhanced over time.

As you develop and refine your emotional intelligence, you’ll find it easier to understand what makes other people tick.  You’ll discover increased levels of empathy, which is crucial for developing social skills and building better interpersonal relationships, and that will make you a more effective manager and influencer.  You’ll find it easier to resolve conflicts and work as part of a team, but perhaps more importantly, you’ll find that your rapport with customers will improve, leading to increased engagement with your brand.

Some of the world’s best marketers operating today have a high EQ, which enables them to affect emotions and behaviour, thereby driving sales and promoting loyalty amongst customers. It’s so much easier to manipulate people into parting with their money, or their email address, for example, when you’ve established a bond between the web visitor and your brand, but in order to be effective, it has to be done in the right way.

Emotional intelligence and marketing effectiveness

Emotional intelligence is an expression that was first used by Michael Beldoch, a Professor of Psychology, as far back as 1964.  But it was the journalist, Daniel Goleman, who brought the subject to the public’s attention in 1995, with his book “Emotional Intelligence — Why it can matter more than IQ”. Keith Beasley then coined the term EQ in an article for British Mensa magazine, and since then it has become more widespread.

As digital technology has advanced, and social media has become increasingly popular, the benefits of emotional intelligence in marketing have become more obvious, as people engage with their favourite brands online.

A recent study detailed in Entrepreneur indicated that around half of all consumers believe that brands have no idea how best to engage with them.  In fact, as few as a third of customers surveyed consider that their favourite brands understand them. And that’s almost entirely down to a lack of empathy on the part of those brands, which is costing them dearly in terms of lost potential revenue.  Considering that the majority of us crave to belong, and to be understood, this lack of empathy is a real block to creating warm and lasting relationships with their core customer base.

The five elements of emotional intelligence

There are five key elements to emotional intelligence, as defined by Daniel Goleman, and in order to be effective, businesses need to employ all of them.

1) Self-awareness

You must have an excellent understanding of your brand and its overall personality.  What makes your company unique?  What do your customers think of your products and services?  Establish a dialogue with your customers and find out what they think and feel about your company and the service that you provide.

2) Self-regulation

Impulsive actions and knee-jerk reactions have no place in an effective marketing campaign.  Every aspect needs to be carefully considered before going live, making sure that there is nothing that could harm your reputation or your brand.  Does your content sound genuine and sincere?  Is there anything in your message that could alienate of offend your core audience?

3) Motivation

Are you clear on your business objectives?  Whether you’re aiming to collect email addresses for your mailing list, or drive sales, you need to know what you hope to achieve from your marketing, ensuring that all aspects integrate in pursuit of your core aims.

4) Empathy

Empathy is one of the most important elements of an emotionally intelligent marketing strategy.  Do you have the utmost respect for your prospective customers?  Are their interests at the forefront of everything that you do?  Only by fully understanding your customers can you hope to exceed their expectations with the service that you provide.

5) Social skills

Corporate speak and jargon used to be the order of the day, but since digital communication became more commonplace there’s been a move towards more natural language.  Is your message clear and easy to understand? Adopting a natural tone that sounds distinctly human is always the best approach, as this will resonate with potential customers and encourage them to engage with you.

Emotional intelligence with customers can significantly increase your sales figures, while also promoting brand loyalty.  But keep in mind that you need to fully understand your core market if you want to reap the best possible rewards.  Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and carefully consider their needs, their hopes, their pain points and their wishes.  The more that you can understand and empathise with them, the better your chances of attracting their interest and engagement.

Emotional intelligence and social media

Now that so many brands use social media channels to connect with customers, keeping the core principles of emotional intelligence in mind is hugely important. So consider the needs of your customers, follow their posts on your social media platforms and adapt your message accordingly.  How can you improve their lives?  What value can you add?

How you respond to negative comments is also key, so never be tempted to engage in knee-jerk reactions.  Spend time considering your options, and don’t be negative, even if provoked. Other potential customers will be watching, and you need to reassure them that you act with integrity, putting things right when mistakes have been made. After all, mistakes will always occur, no matter how careful you are – but the way that you respond can turn a potential disaster into a PR success, so try to view problems as opportunities, and act accordingly.

It’s nice to spread your message far and wide, but try not to get hung up on the number of followers that you have.  In fact, try not to think of your customers in terms of numbers at all, as that only serves to dehumanise them.  Instead, you should aim for your posts to be conversational, as though you were talking to one single customer, as this gives a much more personal feel.

Remember that once something is online it’s there for everyone to see for ever, so review everything before posting it, making sure that everything you post aligns with your brand’s values. Above all, keep your communications as human as possible.  Your customers will love you for it.