Emotional Marketing the Hallmark Way

May 23, 2009 Book Reviews 5 comments

Courtesy of AZ Quotes

“People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” – Zig Ziglar

This quote from the legendary sales guru Zig Ziglar aptly describes the world of marketing, where it is vital to reach the heart in order to generate a buying response.

While the rational part of us would sort through the price, features, and logical needs we have for a particular product or service, it is the emotional part – the feelings, benefits, wants and beliefs – which determine the purchase decision.

To delve deeper into the vital role of emotions in marketing, I picked up a copy of the book Emotion Marketing written by Scott Robinette, Claire Brand with Vicki Lenz of Hallmark Loyalty Marketing Group.

This marketing agency is a subsidiary of the hugely successful Hallmark Cards Inc – a US$4.5 billion privately-held company responsible for zillions of heartfelt and emotionally rich greetings around the world.

Hallmark’s Value Star

Providing various examples of companies like Ritz Carlton, Harley Davidson, Disney, Apple Computers, Hertz and of course Hallmark itself, the main premise of the book focused on Hallmark’s Value Star (sm) which is broken into five components as illustrated:

Hallmark’s Value Star (sm), (c) Hallmark Cards, Inc.

To succeed in a sustainable and long-term manner, the authors suggested that companies should look at both the Rational and the Emotional side of their business.

The breakdown of what each of the components mean are as follows:

  • Product – Features and functions, quality, design, availability, and uniqueness
  • Money – Cost, price, promotions and other economic drivers
  • Equity – Brand identity (what company conveys) and brand image (what consumers perceive), covering both tangible and intangible values. This helps to engender trust.
  • Experience – The collection of touch points between companies and consumers, eg environment, customer service, loyalty programmes, and events.
  • Energy – The convenience to a customer, eg making product or service more accessible, easier to consume, more worthwhile or personalised.

While Product and Money are important elements to get into the game of any business in the first place, it is the three Es – Equity, Experience and Energy – which determines if a company could win the race for the hearts of their consumers.

Strong Brand Values + Positive Experiences

According to the book, winning companies possess strong brand values, create positive consumption experiences (beyond the purchase decision), and provide added convenience to their customers.

These companies also invest in proper customer relationship management /loyalty management systems which go beyond applying a uniform blanket rule. Instead, they study their customer’s buying cycle (termed the Emotional EKG) from acquisition to assimilation, cultivation and reactivation.

Thereafter, these companies tailor their offers, messages and frequency of mailings according to their customers’ preferences.

Contextual Relevance in Marketing Communications

On the topic of marketing communications, one needs to consider the relevance of the mailings, its timing, relationships between senders and recipients, frequency of the messages, and the perceived value.

With the Internet (and now social media), companies have more ways than ever before to provide quality content to their customers, understand their purchase patterns, and strengthen relationships with them.

The Importance of Caring for Employees

An especially useful point covered by the book was the role of employees – the other E.  The same principles of caring for one’s customers should be applied to employees.

According to the authors of the Service Profit Chain, the more loyal and engaged employees are to the organisation, the better the quality of service they provide to customers. This in turn will result in a virtuous cycle of increasing customer loyalty, profitability and value.

Using the Value Star as a framework, similar strategies could be employed for employees along the dimensions of equity, experience, energy, product and money, as well as the employee life cycle stages.

Not All Customers are Kings

Interestingly, the Hallmark purported that not all customers should be treated kings (queens or princes).

The value of a customer will determine the extent of the offers and special deals made to them. Thus, more generous concessions should be provided to higher value customers.

Hallmark even suggested a grading of different customer types as follows:

  • Unattractive low value customers should be ignored to conserve a company’s precious (and limited) resources;
  • Limited potential customers should be maintained;
  • High potential customers should be pursued; and
  • High value customers – considered to be the cream of the crop – should be honoured.

This differentiation in different customer types is illustrated in the chart below:

Customer Value

A Useful Guide to Loyalty Marketing

Overall, I find that the book is useful for companies keen to implement a loyalty management system hoping to make an emotional connection to their patrons.

Emphasising practical applications over theory, it comes with a useful assessment tool to develop one’s “Caring Index” – the first step to developing and implementing an emotional marketing strategy.

The case studies were also relevant, especially insights from Hallmark itself and how it applied principles of Emotion Marketing to both its external and internal customers.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Hey Walter! I really like your point about emotion driving action very strongly. Having been a designer myself, I’ve always been told by my bosses that irrespective of the copywriting given by the client, the poster should portray a certain emotion to drive them to perform an action (especially if the copywriting has a call to action).

    The segmentation of customers may be a little brutal but I guess a low value customer in one industry will always be a high value customer in another.

  2. Having been a designer myself, I’ve always been told by my bosses that irrespective of the copy writing given by the client, the poster should portray a certain emotion to drive them to perform an action.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing such an interesting piece which is definitely worth sharing. I’m looking forward to read more.

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