Great writers write to the emotions of your readers. And they focus on just four emotional appeals.
The appeal is the reason you give the reader to read, subscribe, donate, share, or buy. And the appeal is almost always expressed in the headline.
John Caples, in his book Tested Advertising Methods (a must-read for any copywriter), says that all effective advertising boils down to an effective appeal.
In this 6-minute episode you’ll discover the top four:
- Appeal one is for people who don’t want to be lonely, want their children to love them, and want to get married.
- Appeal two is for people who want to win the lottery, buy the fastest motorcycle, or throw the best parties.
- Appeal three is for anyone who fears getting laid off, being spied on by the government, dying or losing a child.
- Appeal four is for people who feel an obligation to their spouse, parents, country, community, widowed, or orphaned.
Listen to Rough Draft below ...
The Show Notes
All Great Writing Boils Down to These Four Emotional Appeals
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.
Demian Farnworth: Howdy dear web writer. This is Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.
And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me. Trust me. I don’t take your support for granted. Your comments, tweets, reviews on iTunes — they all mean so much to me.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Okay. I want to take you back an episode or two. Remember that sad story I told about Phineas Gage? The railroad foreman who accidentally tamped a hole in the rock filled with black powder using an iron rod without the sand barrier that kept sparks from igniting the powder …. and the explosion that sent the iron rod through his skull … and how that changed his personality from a friendly, reliable citizen to a cantankerous and profane outcast.
Why tell this sad story? What is the possible significance of such a bizarre tale? The answer is simple.
If you’re a copywriter, then — by default — you should write to the emotions of your readers. You need to know the proper appeals to use in order to gain attention, stoke interest and push for action.
Like I’ve been saying all along, it starts with knowing who your reader is. And appealing to his fears and hopes. Tapping into his beliefs and painting a picture of the world he or she wants to live in.
From that platform, you can begin to build a proper appeal. The appeal is the reason you give the reader to buy. And the appeal is almost always expressed in the headline. (I’ll discuss this in greater detail below.)
John Caples, in his book Tested Advertising Methods (a must-read for any copywriter), says that all effective advertising boils down to an effective appeal. Here are the top four:
Love — This covers the entire gamut of love, from friendship to lust. We don’t want to be lonely. We want our children to love us. We want to get married. We want to look good. Think Men’s Health or Beautiful People.
Greed — We want to win the lottery, buy the fastest motorcycle, or throw the best parties. We want to retire early or send our children to the best schools. We want to dominate every opponent on the tennis court or become the smartest guy on campus. This is Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week or Forbes.
Fear — We fear getting laid off, dying or losing a child. We fear the government taking away our rights, our employers pushing us around, or a spouse leaving us. We fear failure. Think Stansberry & Associates or divorce lawyers.
Duty or Honor — We feel an obligation to our spouse, children, and parents. To our country, company, or community. To the poverty-stricken, widowed, and orphaned. Think Army or life insurance.
What These Appeals Might Look Like in the World of Advertising
Naturally, these appeals overlap. And here’s what they might look like in the world of advertising:
- Make more money
- Save more money
- Secure a better retirement — sooner rather than later
- Lose weight
- Conquer depression
- Secure health care
- Get promoted
- Outshine your competition (or neighbor)
- Grab fame and attention
- Enjoy life
- Reduce chores
- Gain more leisure
- Maximize comfort
- Get free from worry
- Nab a bargain
- Belong to the popular club
In truth, it all boils down to this: eliminating anxiety.
Give the reader the sense that you will bring him peace (financial, future, relational, future, security) … that you’ll solve his problems that keep him up at night … that you will give him a good night’s sleep … and you will win his attention.
This is what happens when you fall in love with the human condition.
What does this mean for copywriters …
You’re in the advertising trenches. Doing the dirty work. Here’s what that should look like:
Capture the prospect’s attention — Nothing happens unless something in your copy makes the prospect stop long enough to pay attention to what you say next. And it starts with the headline.
Maintain interest — Keep the copy focused on the prospect, on what he or she will get out of using your product or service.
Move the prospect to positive action — Unless enough prospects are turned into customers, your copy has failed, no matter what.
So here’s the moral of the story: We all need emotions to make decision. And we (content marketers) need emotions to persuade people.
End of story. But we still run into people who resist this …
Have you run into anyone with a resistance to emotional copy? How did you handle it? And what are your feelings about emotions in the art of persuasion?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line on Twitter @demianfarnworth or on the blog.
And until next time, take care.