Create a Setting and Connect With Emotions

Chris Brogan Drinking Colombian Coffee

I recently moved the delivery time of my beloved newsletter to be Sunday morning (well, that’s when it launches here, though my New Zealander and Australian friends all get it on Monday). In the process, I talked to people about sharing this information over breakfast, and with a “second cup of coffee” sometimes. I basically set a scene in the reader’s head that we were having a personal chat over breakfast.

Ask yourself this: in trying to reach others for whatever your goal may be, is it facts or emotions that will win them over? Which do you think plays the bigger role? Related: what’s the benefit of creating an experience for your customer or prospect such that you tell a story with every aspect of your communications? Would you guess it’s not important, or do you think it merits a lot of thought and consideration?

Create a Setting

Have you ever asked yourself about the “where” of your conversations or media making? I suppose if you’re shooting video then the where pretty much is evident in what you use for a background. But what about in your blog posting or other articles? Where do you want the reader to imagine herself when she’s reading? What stage do you want to set around her?

When we talk about a ‘setting’ for your material, this doesn’t have to be hokey. Just because I describe two delicious over-medium eggs and dipping into the golden yolk with crisp sourdough toast doesn’t mean you have to paint a specific picture like that, but it would be useful to consider the tone of your material and what you hope the reader will take from it. Are you writing for someone sitting in the boardroom? Are you writing for a busy mom on the go? Are you writing for an up and comer or an established pro? Should this be something one reads while waiting in line at the grocery store, or the kind of post that you should read on the front porch, with some lemonade and a cucumber sandwich?

In my mind’s eye, my blog is written as if you are at your desk, in between other duties, and you’ve found five minutes to check in and get some fuel for your plans. The blog, in my thoughts, is for your office, or your coffee shop office. My newsletter, as I said before, is for a personal chat over breakfast. And why is that?

Connect With an Emotion

If I had to give you a general emotional palette for this blog, it would be: confidence,a sense of accomplishment (when you realize something for yourself), and caring. Those are the emotions I want to tap into with you. Have you ever considered which emotions you’d most like to reach in your audience? What are they? And what do they say about your goals?

The business goal of this blog is (and has been for a while) to earn a prominent spot in your mind, and from that, to earn the occasional opportunity to help with strategic advice around developing your digital channel for business. The secondary business goal is to earn the right to keynote or privately educate your association or corporation. So how does this all mesh together?

My blog (and remember, I’m just giving you mine as an example) is written for two purposes:

1.) Educate and equip you for your own success.
2.) Gently remind you that I can help your company with larger goals.

In the case of my efforts here, I want you to find confidence, find a sense of accomplishment, and find reasons to care. Those are pretty reasonable emotions to tap into in this setting.

But there are obviously other emotions. What about fear? Does your writing help others remove fears? You could say that back in the day, Gary Vaynerchuk created Wine Library to remove the average person’s fears about knowing what to do with wine. How about greed? Would you say that John Chow writes to appeal to people who want to make money? I would.

Whatever you choose isn’t a bad or a good emotion (for the most part). But in most cases, people don’t tend to think about reaching out and connecting into emotions, and as such, they miss the opportunity to connect on a level that goes below numbers.

How Will you Apply This?

When I bought my Camaro SS, do you think I cared what the gas mileage was? Sure, I looked at what Consumer Reports had to say, but I couldn’t actually tell you much about it. I bought the Batmobile! That car, emotionally, is my view of speed and power and freedom. The car doesn’t make me feel young. It makes me feel like a superhero. So, if you were going to sell to me, what would you have to do? You’d have to figure out the emotions and the tone and setting with which to couch information to me.

Do you consider that much when writing your blog or creating your other media? My guess is you will now. I’m eager to hear what you think the setting and the emotional center of your site is, and what you’re doing to reach out to people in those ways. Let’s talk more about this in the comments, shall we?

And if you want to see my efforts on setting and emotion at work, check out my personal weekly letter to you. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Sirous Kavehercy

    Chris, simple and brilliant! 
    In any type of marketing/communication one should be aware of the audience’s emotion and context. At the end of the day people’s decisions are primarily driven by the emotions they associate with someone/something. It sounds logical but many brands/companies still struggle with this. Thanks.

  • Muhammad Ayaz

    Great Points Chris!

    I think communication with your audience directly gives you a better idea about your site reader’s emotions. But, most of that I would suggest as a writer we should create a content keeping in mind what we want to give our reader to read about.

    Here I want to ask a question from your Chris. How you manage to know the emotions of your readers?

  • Becca

    That is an awesome
    post. You have really layed out your points in great detail. Very easy to
    follow with good content. Weight lifter should take get hold of this post,
    read and impliment the points outlined.

  • johnmurphyinternational

    Chris, I really like this. Just one question – is your newsletter just a follow on from your blog, or am I interpreting what you say that it is quite different? I see my newsletter as a more “chatty” version of my blog – aimed at people that I am communicating directly with on a regular basis.
    Be interested in your view.

  • Denise Iordache

    Great post!
    I have to say I wasn’t considering the setting and emotions that much in my writings. This post right here has been an eye opener. 
    In my writings I am more focused on establishing some kind of two-way communication with the reader. Now I know I should add your recommendations to my approach. Thanks!

  • Drew Griffin

    Emotion does seem to provide the palatte of connection and relatability. I believe it is a skill that coincides with the skill of listening. I think your examples of Gary V and John Chow perfectly described those emotions and gave me perspective to considering emotion as a key component of a Blog.  Blending emotion with content would provide for a better recipe. 

  • therichbrooks

    Swear to God, read this as Create a Setting and Connect with Emoticons. Now *that* would have been something. I thought we might be seeing a whole slew of Brogan influenced emoticons. 

    Something a bit more nuanced, perhaps?


  • mpkahuna7

    Funny, we use this same paradigm of setting a scene and infusing emotionality when we write bylined articles to connect with our target audience (senior level technology management & executives)… And usually we get some serious reach from our efforts. It is comforting to see a stallwart like you confirming the validity of this strategy within digital channels. Thank you, Chris.

  • Michelle Barry Franco

    Ooh, this is so good. I think about how I want people to feel when I facilitate trainings and presentations but I have never thought about the “setting” they are likely to be in (or that I want to set) when I am writing. As I think about it, I imagine them reading before they begin their day, maybe with their first cup of coffee at work. I like that setting – especially since my right people are often working from home – but now I want to be more strategic about timing my posts and recognizing their setting. I also completely LOVE the idea of designing the feel and tone of my newsletter around when they will be reading it. I’m so all over that now. Thanks, Chris, for more real, actionable goodness.

  • Owen Marcus

    Chris you are right – it’s all about emotions.

    I like how you anchor that in by suggesting we not only connect to the person, but to where he or she is as they read our posts. Simple but brilliant.

    Emotions are we all hunger for in our lives. The more we get emotional connections, the more we feel human. I appreciate your message of using blogs and social media as a conduit for us to connect emotionally.

    I look forward to seeing you at WDS.

  • Marc Ensign

    I have had moments where I wrote a post that I felt was technically flawless with more value than any one post should ever have…I did everything but give away tomorrow’s lottery numbers. I was so excited to launch it that I couldn’t sleep the night before the post went live. 

    By lunchtime on the day it went live I eventually got tired of watching it limp into the afternoon with no comments and single digit Tweets, Likes, Pluses, Stumbles, Pins, Diggs, etc…all of which were me. In an emotional tizzy over my hard work (not really) I would write something completely different. No geek speak…a good story with a good lesson. Still valuable of course. That one ends up grabbing hold and making the rounds. Go figure!

    Clearly there’s something there. When your readers are able to connect to you emotionally, they are more willing to share your story. Kind of the “I know this guy that…” thing that happens in the real world. Rarely do you overhear at a cocktail party “I know this guy that has figured out the specific trajectory of a lawn mower blade” over “I know this guy that was trying to pull a rock wedged in the lawnmower while running…” …well, you get the rest.

  • Ryan Hanley

    Chris… I’m loving the Sunday delivery… I’ve read it the last two weeks while watching Sunday night baseball… Social Media/Personal & Emotional Development + Baseball = Bliss… For me at least.

    Keep it up buddy.

  • Tom Ewer

    Hey Chris – you’ve opened my eyes a bit here.

    Whilst I’ve considered my “voice” at times, and occasionally even gone as far as considering my target audience (shock horror!), I am fascinated by the idea of creating a “setting”.

    I’m currently working on re-branding my blog, so this is a really timely post in terms of considering who I am writing for. Thanks!

  • Bill Gibeault

    Connecting with Emotions !  Exactly.  Emotions account for over 1/2 of any customer experience.  Emotions help create lasting memories.  Great topic to provoke people to explore.  

  • samarowais

    What I’m wondering is why haven’t I subscribed to your newsletter before? I read you fairly regularly so it’s not like I didn’t see your newsletter sign up form.

    Maybe it was the description of those eggs… :)

  • Dr. Susan Giurleo

    Ha! I read your Sunday newsletter in line at the grocery store this week : ) Guess I’m an early riser…
    To connect with your audience emotionally, you need to have some sense of what they are thinking and feeling initially. Or, maybe more importantly, what they want and need to feel to get connected with you. It’s taking the time to figure out these nuances before we create content that makes the difference between the stuff that just sits there and the content that gets shared and clients to invest in us.

  • NewClientsEachMonth

    We try to get in the conversation in our clients head (thanks Joe Polish), but we haven’t taken it to this level.  This is great info, it really takes it a step further to really get that emotional connecting.  Thanks for the details!

  • Karen Loomis

    This post rocks. It’s the platform around which I started my own biz No Moss Brands. I love hitting people between the eyes w/ branding & creative that makes them want the product or service regardless of whether their brain says “Dude, you don’t NEED that!” thanks for reminding me I’m not crazy for wanting to help others market in this manner.

  • laineyd7

    Connect with emoticons, you say?…. I crack myself up….

    This is deep, Chris. I never deliberated much about the setting or emotions intended when writing a business or personal blog post, but it’s certainly important to consider as part of your content. As always, thanks for the laser focus.

  • Wes Peters

    good, just a bit long for this 71 year old

  • ChristineMcDougall

    Hey Chris,

    I am one of those Aussies who receive your newsletter on Monday. Mondays are actually a good day for me as most of my email volume comes from the USA and so the heavy traffic starts Tuesday…thru Saturday.

    I took 5 and asked myself the questions you raised.

    Why do I write my blog. Big part is to support people in their own journey with integrity, I also love building relationships and connecting with people. Building trust and a tribe.

    The emotions..well its called Dare to Care, so care is a big one, as is courage, vulnerability, truth.

    The big aahhh from your blog today is that I do really want to earn a prominent spot in my readers minds. To own this.

    Thanks, great post.



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  • Dreama

    Chris–this is a rich post.  It will take a bit to soak in the goodness of it.   A jump out line for me…”If I had to give you a general emotional palette for this blog, it would be: confidence,a sense of accomplishment (when you realize something for yourself), and caring…”  Love the concept of an emotional palette.  A definite keeper!

  • K.O.

    good, just a bit long for this 71 year old..

  • AmyMccTobin

    First of all, you are welcome to my Sunday morning anytime:)  That’s my Candice Crowley/catch up on what I love time anyway, so smart move.  I appreciate it.

  • Angela Brown

    The way to apply is really very good .

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  • Jeff Kear

    Good reminder, Chris, to make an emotional appeal. There’s an old saw in marketing that says, “People buy with their hearts and justify it with their heads.” But instead of relying on old saws, there’s also scientific evidence to back up the importance of eliciting the emotions of your prospect as well as telling a story that engages them (see the book Made to Stick for proof … there’s a whole section on social psychology studies showing the effectiveness of using emotions).

    Again, thanks for keeping this very important idea in front of us.

  • Cathy Tibbles

    I like to think you copied my appeal in your newsletter (ha!) because I always envision me, chatting with my clients (I have 2 in mind every time I write) on a sunny Sunday afternoon. 

    For whatever reason, it has escaped me to do that with my blog – although the appeal will be different, the intention should be there.  Love your writing style Chris – so clear and succinct – no fluff.  I love that about your articles. I never feel as though my time is wasted.  

  • Jason Heilpern

    I really like the idea of each social media platform you use having a goal or two.  I use several forms of Social media, but none of them have a goal of what I want to accomplish with them.  FIrst thing in the morning I am creating a goal for each platform and using it as the center of what I do as ai create emotional quality content!

  • writing service

    Good writing should be written for its intended audience, wherever it is published. Being able to judge their audience is what separates the good writers from the mediocre ones. It is the things that people make a connection with that are the best things you will write, often when you don’t think it is your best work.

  • Jervis

    Chris, this information is golden. I have known for quite sometime that people’s decision to buy something is practically driven by emotion. I’ve got 2 question I would really appreciate if you take time to answer :)

    1. Which is most effective? fear-based or non-fear-based.2. Does it help if the emotional setting is varied on a wide range of moods or tone (example: happiness, forward-looking sentiments, scarcity, fear, etc) Or should I stick with a set of emotions?


    I remember your post after you watched (or partially watched) an episode of a reality show that taught men how to be pick up artists. The core characteristic was confidence. Confidence goes a long, long way…

  • Marc Halliburton

    This social media thing has fallen right into my lap…I am not  a writer but I can write about the experience of someone purchasing their first home. The color of the walls and the tile floor they have selected;  soon to be  Home  Depot’s favorite customer. As a mortgage banker the whole process of purchasing a home is driven all by emotion for my new cleints to have their slice of the American dream. This I can write  about and being in the business for 19 years this is fun,  challenging but alot of fun. Thank you for the work that you do. Marc

  • RJ

    So important to keep this all in mind.  I know, as a young business relative to my “career”, that I need to be mindful of the channels I use and the information and opinions I share.  Posting to my blog, FB, or twitter is much different than the “group” discussions with others in my industry on LinkedIn (which you LOVE so much).

  • Sandra Pawula

    This is such a skillful look at how people truly connect to a blog. I’ve made a special effort to create an ambiance of simplicity, serenity, and beauty on my blog, a refuge from the busyness, stress, and overwhelm of modern life. I haven’t thought about the emotions I would like to encourage as carefully. But, as you suggest, I will now!

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