Day 19 – The Role of Emotion in Copy-writing

31 days to write better text by Denise Fay : Achieve MarketingEmotion plays a huge part in the buying process. You’ve all heard the saying “My heart says yes but my head says no.” What you need to do as a successful copy-writer is get inside the head of the buyer and encourage them to buy with their heart and head.

Check out the following scenario. Two people are chatting across the wall of their gardens chit-chatting about nothing really. The topic turns to cars. One neighbour says to the other:

Ah, yeah, I’d like a new car next year, but we’ll see how things go.”

But you know what he’s really saying “I want the new Audi A1 in silver metallic and I’ve placed my order already.

Add another dimension to this thought-process:

I want the new Audi A1 in silver metallic which will look better in the driveway than your (last year’s!) Mercedes CLS.”

Neighbour No. 2 goes into the house and shouts to the wife, “Honey, we’re getting a new car.

Sound believable?


That’s because it is. Neighbour no. 1 could have bought any car. He didn’t. He chose the new Audi A1. (Reward for working so hard, pride, delight). He could have told the neighbour that he placed an order but didn’t. (Wants to see surprise on neighbour face, greed, one-upmanship). Neighbour No. 2 reads between the lines and tells the wife that they’re getting a new car. (one-upmanship, vanity, fear of losing face to the neighbour next door).

Everyone buys on emotion

People buy from people and people buy as people. It doesn’t matter if they are buying a pair of shoes, a jacket, dinner or a multi-million pound computer system. People buy to fulfil an emotional need. Thereafter, they rationalise their decisions.

The pair of shoes
I have an important meeting and don’t have navy shoes to match the navy suit that makes me look very professional and credible.

The jacket
It has an inside pocket which will allow me to carry my business cards and do more networking.

The dinner
Everyone has to eat, right? Plus it’s healthy and has so many salads to choose from.

A multi-million pound computer system
There will be less human-error so less time having to deal with screaming, disappointed customers.

You need to find out what the triggers the emotions within your target market. The only way to find out is do what I talked to you about on Day 1 – Understanding your customer. The more you find out about your customer or target market, the easier it will be to persuade them that your product or service is the right one for them.

Emotional triggers include:

  • Fear
  • Delight
  • Approval
  • Laziness
  • Curiosity

In fact, you could use the seven deadly sins as reasons why people buy:

  • Envy
  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Wrath
  • Lust
  • Sloth
  • Gluttony

Taking a positive spin

While the seven deadly sins are deadly for a reason (and we all saw that in the movie Se7en with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman), I would encourage you to focus on the positive.

So if vanity or greed are emotional triggers within your market, try discussing the benefits of your product or service. Take a positive spin on your product. If you say something like ‘Don’t be like everyone else, buy this“; it really means “You’ll be like everyone else if you buy this.” Our sub-conscious really can’t digest negatives. How many times have you walked on the grass when you saw the sign ‘Don’t walk on the grass.’

Exactly! All the time. You saw ‘walk on the grass!‘. Turn the emotional trigger into a positive. You could say something like this for a tanning product: ‘Buy our tanning product and people will think you’re just back from holidays.’

Here, you are creating a positive association with your product. People always want to remember their holidays – that relaxed feeling, the healthy tan, the adventurous glow. And if your target market is a little bit vain, well, then, they’ll think they’re a little better than the average orange-tanned beauty.

You’re playing into their emotional response of looking good, looking better than the next person while thinking about their holiday. You’ve got a sale.

Day 19 – Homework

As human beings, we have emotional reactions to all kinds of things. What are your target market’s reactions?
If you don’t know, go and ask three of your customers the following question:
If they had all the money in the world, what would they do differently in their business? and at home?

The answers are your emotional triggers to bring into your next lot of copy.

Return to ‘31 Days to Write Better Copy‘ to get more practical advice on writing copy.

About the Author

Denise FayI'm Denise Fay, an international marketing communications advisor. For over 16 years, I've been helping corporations and business owners to promote themselves by communicating the right message with the right audience. They achieve clarity, leads and sales. I'm also an award-winning author, engaging speaker, entrepreneur, business owner and mum of two, I have written copy that has won awards, won clients and most importantly, built relationships. Because at the end of the day, it all comes down to how we relate to others. And writing great copy that engages with your reader is well worth its weight in gold. You too can find wealth in your relationships. I can guide and help you find your words, create an engaging message and build a relationship that results in repeat sales with your customers & leads. Contact me today to get started. Come find me on Google+View all posts by Denise Fay →

  1. KenKen10-21-2010

    Nice post. I think people buy into positives more, even if they say they don’t, especially with the relentless negativity we have to endure. The seven deadly sins can also come across as someone knowing better than you, not a good start to a relationship. It can give the impression that they are more interested in the sale that what you need or want.

  2. DeniseDenise10-24-2010

    Hi Ken,

    The seven deadly sins are emotional triggers. But you’re right – acknowledging they exist and turning them into a positive really works. You get a sale but you don’t feel like you’re selling to someone. You’re simply helping them resolve their problem.

    And I certainly agree, we need more positives these days. 🙂
    Take care,

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