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Is Your Content Marketing Tapping into the Strongest Emotion?

Mario Bros

We all hear that our marketing campaign needs to tap into emotion, whether it's social media marketing, content marketing, or traditional ads. But what is the greatest emotion of all? Is it Fear? Love? Regret? Sympathy? Awe? Pride? Anger?

While there may be some debate, science is actually leaning toward something that we may not even think of when we think of emotion -- Nostalgia.

Did I lure in the 35-55 age demographic with my 8 bit Mario gif? Chances are, yes. And beyond, because many of us have been playing video games since the womb. Who doesn't love Mario bros? Most of those in this age group, particularly in the US likely had a Nintendo, SNES or Gameboy. And this and other games in the series were the games to own.

What about this one?

Perhaps that grabbed the attention of a slightly younger demographic, but magic and fantasy have no age limits, so I'm likely reaching a much broader audience with these content creation ideas.

How about this?

or this

Each of these was a very successful marketing campaign. Each speaks to different demographic. Identify your demographic and find out how you can put nostalgia to work for you on your business blog, in videos, where ever you can.

What is Nostalgia?

Nostalgia is "longing for an idealized past". Our brains are predisposed to remember the good stuff from our childhoods/the past, in many cases, excluding the bad. Whether you think it to be evolutionarily or by design, it helps us to "keep on keeping' on" despite the bad things that may have happened to us.

In psychological terms, it helps us cope better with trauma because that trauma is so overwhelmed by the good memories.

As a quick aside, If you ever wondered why it's so easy for some of us to forgive people who really "did us wrong", nostalgia probably plays a big part in that. We really forget the bad and move on. At least I know that's the case with me.

When we see, smell, hear, touch things that trigger memories of this idealized past, we feel the emotion of nostalgia. It takes us back for a moment to that feeling we may have had in that moment of happiness, contentment, awe, pride, euphoria, etc.

In this way, nostalgia speaks our unique language. Two people feeling nostalgia may not feel the same thing. Nostalgia could be said to be all good emotion. And as you already know, emotion sells.

The science that supports Nostalgia's Strength

A phenomenal consumer research study to read is: NOSTALGIA: A NEUROPSYCHIATRIC UNDERSTANDING.

They tested several nostalgia triggers and found several interesting ones like:

  • Observing holidays. This one is obvious and as marketers. We really use it to our advantage, especially when it comes to Christmas.

  • Politics - I'm not suggesting we market with politics, but the study found that political affiliation was often linked to nostalgia. For example, if a big win of a candidate was a happy moment for you as a child you might lean toward that party.

  • Food choices - We sometimes call them comfort food, but comfort food is different for everyone. Mine are actually Salmon Pate, Real Peanut Butter, raw spinach, hot sauce, hazelnuts. --Not at the same time. Gross. More common comfort foods in the US are fried chicken, meatloaf, french fries, spaghetti, hamburgers, etc. In South Korea or Germany, these foods would be totally different. It probably comes from a food that you developed fond memories around, growing up.

  • Smells - this is a big one. What did your grandmother's kitchen smell like when she was baking cookies? Did you spend a lot of time in the rose garden? Do you love the smell of a library book? Did your mother wear a certain perfume? Do you remember the smell of your first new car?

To this I would add:

  • Sports- If the Bears or the Cowboys (US Football) were winning when you were a kid and it made you happy, you might still be a Cowboys or Bears fan, particularly if you had no home team. The Jaguars have a strong following in UK because they were the first US football team to win there and apparently it was a great game. Do you love Michael Jordan, Kobe or Lebron? There's a reason for that.

  • Religion - same thing

  • Movies

  • Music

  • Video Games

  • Places

Tap into this emotion in your content marketing. Respect licensed content. And increase leads, inspire loyalty. These convert to sales.


Do you agree that nostalgia is the strongest emotion?

How can brands use nostalgia to make better content?

Leigh Clayborne is a Hubspot certified freelance content marketing / SEO content writer & strategist with 10 years of healthcare management experience on 15+ years of creating content. She is a strong proponent of creating the right customer experience to meet business goals.

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