Let’s talk for a few minutes, you and I, about people.
You probably know a lot of people – your co-workers, your family, your high school English teacher.
But I’m talking about “people” in a broader context. I’m talking about the human race, and the emotions that have driven us to eat, love, kill, and spend money for thousands of years.
While individuals are complex and nuanced, people on the macro level are incredibly simple. And that’s going to work to your advantage.
Just understanding these emotional hot buttons and applying them consistently will be the amazing first step on your way towards being a copywriting professional. You don’t even have to be subtle about it. Just follow along.
As you write your copy, research your markets, and introduce yourself to future clients and customers, think about these buttons, and what you can do to push them.
In time, it’ll bleed into your civilian life, and you’ll think about the art of manipulation whenever you watch political arguments, argue with your friends, or look at an advertisement. When you’re no longer shocked at how often they’re applied, consider yourself a copywriter.
PEOPLE ARE AFRAID
Every human life has its share of tragedy – unanswered loves, missed opportunities, loved ones who are gone forever. We see others suffer all the time, and that’s why most people are driven by their fear of suffering. People will do anything to avoid poverty, loneliness, sickness, and death.
But here’s a paradox – people will often refuse to do the things that could help them avoid those things. We don’t just fear consequences – we fear struggle of any kind. No matter what kind of rewards are at stake, the average person wants them without pain and without risk and will look endlessly for a way to avoid either.
PEOPLE DON’T LIKE RESPONSIBILITY
Few people purposely sabotage their own lives. Most of us are doing the best we can despite not always having the best of circumstances. It hurts to be told that after everything we’re doing to keep our heads above water, there’s something else we’ve neglected to do.
It’s easy to trust a person who tells us things aren’t our fault. That’s something that we feel, deep down. Someone who repeats it back to us instantly builds a rapport, which is why the phrase it’s not your fault pops up in so much sales copy.
PEOPLE FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THEIR MISTAKES
Despite what’s been said so far, your average person isn’t an oblivious ball of entitlement and misdirected anger… well, not always, anyway. We remember the things we did wrong, and we’d do anything to turn back time, undo the damage of our previous choices, and make things right again.
And if there were ONE BIG CHANGE (say, a purchase) we could make to set us back on the right path, we’d take it.
Guilt, in small doses, is a powerful intersection between fear and hope. Use it.
PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF BEING SCREWED OVER
All of us are faced with a lot of enemies in our lives, whether they’re economic, social, or natural. When it doesn’t look like there’s something around to blame, we’ll make one up! Every time we make a purchase, we’re looking for a friend in our personal struggles.
Someone who hates the same things we hate is easy to see as a friend. Have you noticed how everyone who asks for your email address nowadays hates spam?
PEOPLE WANT IN
Every human walking the face of this planet is ordinary in most aspects of life. If we’re really lucky, there are a couple of things (access to a special group, or specialized knowledge) that separates us from the rest of the world. Ask a writer, doctor, or a carpenter about their craft and their eyes will well up with pride as they discuss what we do.
Everybody wants to feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. And if we can buy in for the privilege, they’ll do so happily. Conversely, if you threaten to leave us out, whether you use time or a number as your limiting factor, even the most levelheaded person will go into a panic.
PEOPLE WANT APPROVAL
Love, respect, appreciation – no matter what you want to call it, we’ve all done nice things for others and made sacrifices, and we’d really like it if someone appreciated them.
We get suspicious when someone piles on the approval, but a compliment always makes us happy – and it always makes us want to live up to that compliment.
PEOPLE WANT TO BE PROTECTED
Most of us are exhausting ourselves trying to chase our needs and desires. And there’s always a facet of life we don’t know anything about.
Everyone could use a little help.
Once someone promises to lead us, save us, teach us, or smooth our path, we’ll bend over backward to satisfy them in any way possible – especially if they’ve proven they’re up to the task.
Can I emphasize that for a minute? No matter how well your business is doing, the instinct to be protected by someone stronger than them is more powerful than the instinct to take pity on someone weaker than them. That’s why positioning yourself as a skilled copywriter is so important.