By  on June 1, 2005

NEW YORK — A growing number of marketing experts has been clamoring for branding that taps into people's emotions, but author-consultant Mark Joyner is calling for a reason-based approach.

Joyner, an online marketing specialist, advocates a pragmatic path back to basics. In his book, "The Irresistible Offer" (John Wiley & Sons: $21.95), to be published in September, Joyner contends a simple offer built on a touchstone transmitting as many as four types of information is most effective in a world where marketers have three seconds to connect with consumers. The idea is to get over as many of those four points as is possible in three seconds: Here's what we're selling; here's what it will cost; here's what's in it for you, and here's why you should trust us.

But haven't 21st century consumers grown too sophisticated for such a straightforward approach? Au contraire, Joyner, 36, said in an interview. It's precisely such an appeal that's an antidote to too much emotional button-pushing in increasingly resistant consumers — a condition the author suggested may begin to afflict various marketers. "When people detect a manipulative intent, their trust goes down," Joyner said. "I wonder if people are starting to detect emotional branding as manipulation."

Three of the author's favorite touchstones have been offered by Domino's Pizza, with its promise of delivery in 30 minutes or a free pizza; Columbia House, which has given members incentive to join by providing 10 CDs for 1 cent, and Federal Express, which has advertised use of its delivery service, "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."

Building a convincing touchstone is tougher for apparel than most other categories, Joyner acknowledged. It is often an emotions-based purchase, triggered by people's desire to feel good about their appearance. Nonetheless, he said, reason-driven appeals can be effective. For example, in "The Irresistible Offer," he cites Nordstrom's consumer-friendly return policy — "We'll take it back without a receipt, no questions asked" — as one that has become a respite from "the hell you get when normally trying to return something."

The creation of such succinct marketing messages may compensate for the length of time it takes for a brand's own presence to establish an image, and subsequent value, and can boost the marketer's influence on the image, Joyner said."In a way, it's a response to information overload," said Joyner, also author of "MindControlMarketing.com" (Steel Icarus: 2002).

The element of time is perhaps most significant in efforts to establish a new brand, while the notion of controlling a marketing message comes to the fore in the offer of more established brands, where, Joyner writes, there is room for ambiguity, even among the best-known brands. "Sure you may like Armani suits, but what does that brand really mean to you?" the author asks. "There is probably a long series of very subtle associations in your mind that compose your opinion of that brand, but could you verbalize them easily? With a touchstone, there is no ambiguity."

With "The Irresistible Offer," Joyner said, he is trying to quickly bring people back around to the heart of "what is really going on — the offer of a quid pro quo.

"We know humans make snap judgments, which make a long and lasting impact."

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