Evocative Advertising: How Startups Can Use Feelings to Influence Consumer Buying Decisions

Emotions can help your startup forge a deeper connection with audiences, consequently influencing their purchase decisions.

Many shoppers think with their hearts. If you can use your advertising to play into their major emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, and fear, you can pull them into your messaging and make a far more compelling argument.

Sure, appealing to common sense and logic while dryly explaining the benefits of your products or services might sound like the most professional way to reach your audience. Still, people are more susceptible to evocative advertising. They want to purchase products that appeal to their feelings and drive an emotional reaction from them.

Ads with purely emotional content perform twice as well (31% vs. 16%) compared to those that only focus on rational arguments.

But how can you go about influencing buyers through their emotions to make your startup profitable? In this article, we’re going to discuss this in-depth, going through the major emotions and detailing how you can best appeal to them.

How Can You Influence Buyers With Emotions?


Happiness is the first emotion you can evoke for a powerful reaction. When you have a product or service that can be associated with happiness, joy, and pleasing imagery, you should always make it a focus of your advertising campaign.

(Image Source)

People like to feel good, and positive, brightly colored imagery, like in the example above, can help with that. Whether it’s people smiling, a beautiful landscape, fun activities, or (especially) adorable furry animals, you can create an emotional response in your customers by leaning into whatever makes them happy.

Of course, all of this comes down to the quality of your images. That’s why you’ll have to rely on photo editing tools to help you bring out these joyful emotions through your ads.

When you can create happy emotions through your ads, you’ll start to notice that people are paying more attention. That’s because we chase happy feelings, especially when the weight of the world has us feeling down. By associating your company with those emotions, people will embrace your messaging. Everybody wants that happiness in their lives.


Anger can be a powerful motivator, nearly as powerful as happiness. When we invoke anger in our audiences, we aren’t the driving force behind that anger. Rather, we’re reminding them of something that makes them angry and showing them a product, service, or cause that will help them strike back at whatever irks them.

You see this tactic used in political ads a lot. A politician will use their ad time to discuss their opponent’s record, invoking anger in their audience about the things that person might have done or said in the past. By stoking the flames of that fury, we can influence the audience to take an action we want them to take.

This could be voting for a specific candidate, purchasing a specific product, supporting a cause, or signing up for a service. For example, a non-profit looking to raise money for the people of Ukraine might center an ad campaign around displaced children. The anger we feel when seeing injustice committed against another person can be a driving force behind action.


Sadness goes along with anger as a negative emotion that most might not think to use when trying to advertise for their organization. But sadness can have a huge impact on consumers. Take those ASPCA ads, for example.

(Image Source)

By showcasing the plight of injured or abused animals, the ASPCA tugs on our collective heartstrings and urges us toward financial action.

Telling a sad story or showcasing an emotional tear-jerking topic can drive customers to action. This is different from playing to anger. While both can show instances of injustice, it’s more about the framing of the piece. Sad advertisements will usually involve slow music and clips that move and cut slowly. They’ll often go for long, drawn-out fades that focus on the human element in an attempt to pull that emotion out of consumers.

Fear and Anxiety

Fear is a powerful motivator, and playing to the anxieties of your target audience can help your message sink in and move the needle in a positive direction.

(Image Source)

Everyone has something they’re nervous about, something they fear.

For example, a courier service might focus on the very valid fear of missing a set delivery slot. This is a fear that can be a barrier to online shopping. By offering customers flexibility on delivery times, you effectively alleviate that fear for them, propping up your business as a solution to their problem and the anxiety surrounding it.

Giving customers options makes them feel empowered and in control. Customers feel more relaxed and positive toward your brand when they feel in control. This means they will be more likely to order from you again.

But to make that emotional connection, you must show the viewer what might happen without your service through imagery or an impactful message. You can use a sales copy generator to create the perfect copy for your ads and bring out emotions from your audience.

Allow them to experience the dread of missing a vital delivery through the subject of your ad. You’re more likely to convert them into paying customers by giving them a taste of their own dread.

In Closing

As a startup, you need to hit the ground running with your ad campaign. The best way to do this is to examine your product and your audience and determine how to use evocative advertising to play on emotions.

By generating an emotional response for your customers, you’ll be able to market to them more easily and forge a stronger connection with them, which, in turn, will help you sell more.

Remember, you can evoke an emotional response by:

  • Sharing light imagery that brings about happy feelings
  • Playing up on your audience’s anger to drive them to action
  • Creating a tear-jerking ad that moves them
  • Showing how your product or service can alleviate their anxieties

By taking a more human approach and creating an evocative ad campaign, you’ll set your startup business up for success.