freelance copywriter, ghost writer, web content writer, white papers

This is the third, final, and perhaps the most important, article in a series on the topic of features vs. benefits. It will deal with the emotional reasons people buy any product or service.

This series was inspired by the many ads, websites and marketing materials I’ve seen recently that seem to offer little or no benefits to the would-be customer. Hints, yes. Vague references to something better, yes. But very, very few strong benefit statements that boldly tell the customer how this product or service will change their lives, solve their problems or open up new opportunities for them.

So now let’s get started on the all-important emotional benefits.

Emotions outsell logic and facts 10 to 1. There’s an old but true saying that goes, “people buy on emotion and justify with logic.” Even for corporate customers, your material must convince a human buyer who makes decisions in part based on how these decisions will further her career or cast her in a bad light with others in the company. Leaving out the emotional element can, and often is, fatal to your efforts.

Emotional benefits go right to the heart (literally) of why people make decisions. Often called “psychological triggers,” these reasons are the needs that operate like software in our brains.

Take, for example, home exercise equipment. The logical benefits behind making such a purchase might be to lose weight, to be healthier or to have more energy. All valid reasons that should be included in your copy if you are selling such a product.

But the emotional benefits might be to look good to members of the opposite sex, to enhance your own confidence, to help your career because you look better, to be accepted by others or to be able to wear certain clothing in the summer. All of these reasons might sound slightly shallow, but they are a part of all our psychological makeup.

According to John Caples in his book, Tested Advertising Methods (Fifth Edition) a partial list of these psychological triggers (which he calls appeals) is:

  • Make more money
  • Save money
  • Retirement security
  • Better health now
  • Health care security
  • Security in old age
  • Career advancement
  • Sex, acceptance by the opposite sex, love or affection
  • Greed, including all the things that money can buy
  • Fear of loss, fear of failure or fear of losing
  • Duty/Honor/Professionalism, which means our altruistic motives of doing what’s right or best for others or simply doing our jobs well, or doing what’s right for our employer or organization
  • Desire to avoid embarrassment or rejection
  • Desire for acceptance or popularity(or as Caples puts it, the desire to be one of the “in” group)
  • Competitiveness (which might include the desire to own a better car than your neighbor)

As you look over this list of psychological triggers (which is by no means a complete list of the emotional reasons people make decisions) you will notice that sometimes different triggers can be used to sell the same product or service.

For example, going back to that corporate buyer mentioned earlier, she might be motivated by her professionalism to do what was right for her company, her desire for career advancement, her fear of hurting her career by making a bad decision (back in the 60s, 70s and 80s a common business proverb advised that no one ever lost their job for choosing IBM), fear of making a bad decision which might turn out to be an embarrassment

With all this said, I’d like to mention a very good method for making all these emotional reasons and psychological triggers very real to the reader of your material. In her bookWeb Copy That Sells, Maria Veloso uses a device she calls the emotional scenario to paint a vivid picture for the reader.

What Veloso’s emotional scenario does is create a story-like scene in which the reader can see and feel the emotional cost of the problem they now face. Then she puts the reader right inside another scene to contrast that problem scene, which show how they could feel if the problems were resolved. This second scene allows the reader to experience the ownership of your product and assumes that the sale has already been made.

It works like this (we’ll go back to using the home exercise equipment mentioned earlier):
It’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you find that you are having to tuck your shirt back in again because your “spare tire” keeps your clothing from fitting right. You’ve been trying to catch the new woman’s eye for weeks now, but you think she doesn’t pay any attention to you because you look out of shape and over weight. On top of all that, you are getting tired and listless and don’t know how you’ll have the energy to make it until the end of the day.

Now imagine it’s just four weeks after buying your new Super Ab Cruncher. Your clothes fit great and you feel more lean and muscular than you have in years. You feel like a bundle of energy and your boss has complimented you twice this week on the productivity level you have been performing at. On top of that, the new woman just asked you out for drinks after work.

Ok that would definitely need more work before I would ever put that on an ad or website, but as rough as it is you still get the idea of to put the reader, as the main character, into an emotional scene.

Remember that your customers and clients are first of all people, not analytical machines. It takes more than facts and logic to persuade any human to make a decision or take action. If your ads, website or marketing materials fail to take into account the emotional nature of the people you are writing to, you will never see the results you are looking for.

freelance copywriter, ghost writer, web content writer, white papers

COPYRIGHT © 2006, Charles Brown


Great article. Look forward to more posts.

9:09 AM

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