The happiest people are the least satisfied • The most satisfied are not happy.
That makes no sense, does it? Yet brain science tells us that being dissatisfied is not the same as being unhappy. People who are dissatisfied yet also see themselves making progress towards a goal are more happy than merely satisfied people. Smart marketers make use of dissatisfaction to create powerful emotional connections with their customers.
Negative Emotion Drives Desire
It’s good for your business when you allow your customers suffer. Why? I’ll explain in just a moment. First, let’s set the stage.
We all know that emotion drives buying decisions. And we know that facts kill emotion. Savvy marketers have known that’s true for a long time.
Now, thanks to neuroscience, we better understand why people are like that.
For decades, the gurus of marketing have told us to avoid negative emotions. Turns out, they’re wrong.
Negative emotion is not just the absence of positive emotion. It is its own separate thing. Positive emotion and negative emotion use two entirely different circuits in our brains.
That means it’s possible for humans to experience both positive and negative emotions at the same time.
In fact, if your target audience is experiencing negative emotion, you have a great opportunity to leverage that emotion for your own good. Push the right buttons, slide the right levers and you can increase desire.
And then – when you offer a solution to those negative emotions, you’ll create powerful positive emotions. And – if you do it right – you can turn those positive emotions into powerful, long-lasting emotional connections.
However, you gotta know how to leverage that negative emotion.
“Neurophysiologically we are constructed in such a way that we do not experience positive emotion unless we have an aim and we perceive ourselves progressing towards that aim and attaining that aim.” – Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Negative Emotions Are Almost Always At Work
As I argue elsewhere, we 21st century people walk around with a gaping hole in our psyches. It’s there because our culture has fractured.
Strong cultures keep our deep existential questions at bay. But when culture fractures – as ours has – it no longer gives us answers to our deep questions. And that’s precisely where we find ourselves.
Almost all of us suffer from existential discontent. That’s an emotion that maps onto the negative emotional system. Unless those deep existential questions are answered, that negative emotional system is always going to be working.
The Brain Chemistry of Positive Emotion
We have two different “systems” of brain chemicals that make us feel positive emotions.
One is dopamine. The other is serotonin.
When we perceive ourselves as making progress towards a goal, then our brains squirt dopamine. That’s a really awesome feeling. When you offer your prospect the chance to solve a nasty problem, it’s dopamine that makes them feel excited about it.
When we actually reach our goal, the dopamine turns off and our brain squirts serotonin instead. Serotonin is a nice feeling, but it’t not as intense as dopamine and it doesn’t last as long.
Dopamine makes us feel good about heading in the right direction to reach our goal. Serotonin makes us feel good about having reached our goal.
So your prospects can feel negative feelings and positive feelings at the same time. You want them to feel dopamine-feelings though. Don’t give them serotonin feelings too soon.
Amplify the Suffering First, THEN Offer the Solution
The old marketing acronym PAS is built on this reality: Pain-Amplification-Solution.
Isn’t it interesting that the old guys knew what worked, even if they didn’t know why it worked? Now we know.