Modelling your marketing around the happiness formula

Posted on 17/06/2021 by Team Hallam

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably pondered what makes people happy.

I’m not talking about the many influencers on social media showcasing fake happiness on a daily basis, confusing the next generation as to what our cultural norms are. I’m not talking about meditation, yoga, healthy eating, or the ongoing list of things we need to do that might make us happy. And I’m certainly not talking about money.

I went on a happiness journey during lockdown – 21 days completing the same five tasks each day. Each task with scientific studies to back up that they’ll make you happier. Whilst it did work to some degree, once I stopped the daily tasks, the short term happiness it created disappeared.

This got me thinking about how marketing makes people feel, at least in the short term. And what we can do as marketers to keep our customers happy after their purchase.

Most of the western culture is now savvy to our marketing tactics. And whilst there are still things we can do to get conversions – how much of our marketing aims to truly make people happy enough to buy from us? And when it does, are we doing it on purpose?

What is the happiness formula?

Over the years I’ve looked at many so-called formulas that can predict how happy a person is. But these often involve complex factors that differ for different people. What makes me happy, may not make you happy, and that’s totally cool.

The happiness formula I have defined for short and long term marketing impact is super simple, however, with the right application, can be exceptional…


Let me break it down with a story – we all love stories, right? Or so we get told by every other marketer “you need to tell stories”. Not if you have terrible stories you don’t.

The not so happy customer

You’ve booked a weekend break for you and your friend. You both book an affordable hotel and whilst the reviews aren’t great, the images the hotel has provided you with are fabulous. You and your friend big up the hotel so much prior to arriving that you’re expecting a 10/10.

When you arrive, the reality of it is that you get an 8/10 experience. Your expectation exceeded the reality and you’re not feeling too great about it.

You might have had a nice weekend but you’re not heading back to that hotel any time soon and you’re not in any mind to recommend the hotel to your family and friends.

The happy customer

Now let’s flip it. You take time to read the reviews and understand the images provided by the hotel are probably just trying to make it look more glamorous than it is in an attempt to drum up sales.

You and your friend are looking forward to the weekend but you don’t expect the hotel to be that great. At best, you’re expecting a 6/10. When you get there, the reality is that it’s not as bad as you thought, a solid 8/10. Your reality has exceeded your expectations and you’re fairly happy about the situation.

You might not recommend the hotel right away but you wouldn’t mind staying there again as you’ve had a pleasant experience.


Let’s make one thing clear

I’m not suggesting making your marketing efforts worse than the actual experience. I’m not saying if you’re a hotel post terrible pictures. Just don’t deceive people for a short term win.

What I am trying to say is this:

The experience of your product or service should always strive to exceed the expectations of the customer, allowing them to have a truly happy and memorable experience.

This will allow you to increase the lifetime value of each customer as they’re more likely to repeat purchases and recommend your business to peers. Two of the most cost-effective ways to increase sales long term for any business.

Happy enough to purchase

So how can this work in practice? Well, before you can exceed people’s expectations with the product or service usage, you need them to buy it in the first place. There are a number of ways that as marketers we do this in an ethical way…


It should always start with a marketing strategy. A marketing plan without doing your research is just a gut feeling, and whilst this may work for some marketers, it’s not scalable.

Instead, investing in a solid strategy backed by research will allow you to identify what your target market is actually looking for and how they want to be sold to.

Once you understand this, you can develop a really strong proposition strategy that will guide and inform the messaging you use as part of your communications.


Like I mentioned before, consumers are becoming savvy to our marketing techniques. In order to hurdle this initial distrust, the use of truly inspiring and engaging creative assets work a treat.

Again, link this back to your strategic research, and produce creatives that will resonate with your target market and explain to them the benefits that they want from your product or service.

More importantly, explain the why.


Make sure you and your team are spending time on the marketing activities that actually make a difference to your campaign performance.

By setting up clear SMART goals and having weekly syncs to assess the metrics which deliver these goals, it will allow you to tweak and optimise your current campaigns to deliver the best results.

Happy enough to come back for more

Once you’ve made a sale, you should now look to make sure that the expectation of that product or service is exceeded. Having a kick-ass product is obvious, but what else can we do as marketers post-sale?

happy customer


By segmenting your customers you can provide them with the aftercare support that they actually need and want.

Make use of automation and a CRM system, such as Hubspot, to manage these segments. You can then manufacture workflows to provide your different groups of customers with the right content, promotions, or information that will keep you top of mind for a repeat purchase.

Happy staff

Make sure you’re doing everything you can at a leadership level to keep your staff happy. If your product or service could or does involve any sort of communications with your customers and employees, then this is a must.

Having a friendlier and happier workforce will make them believe in what you’re doing as a business and allow them to really get behind the products and services you’re selling. This friendliness will shine through when interactions take place with customers post-sale.

Smart staff

Just having a bunch of friendly employees at your disposal will not be enough (I think Lush might disagree*). You must also make sure that your colleagues are given the correct training about the product/service, as well as relationship training on how to handle even the most tricky of customers.

*In all fairness to Lush, I know they train their employees about their products very well.


As marketers, we often prioritise short-term wins with prospects, over long term relationship building with customers.

Adapting the happiness formula to your marketing efforts will allow you to exceed customer expectations time and time again. This will increase your customer lifetime value and boost recommendations through word of mouth and user-generated content.

Don’t be led by just gut decisions as a marketer, underpin your campaigns with strategic research, dope creatives, and a data-driven approach to maximise success.

Fancy a chat about making your customers really happy? Drop us a line today.

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Modelling your marketing around the happiness formula

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