051 Want Copy That Actually Works? Start with Mass Desire

We all long for something. Love that will last. The ability to influence people. Scenic vacations. Financial independence. Less anxiety. Copywriters call these mass desires.

And copywriting that actually works connects your product to one of these mass desires.

When that is done — when you’ve convinced your prospect that you can satisfy their desires — then people will not only fall in love with and buy your products, they will become unstoppable evangelists as well.

But that all depends on whether you choose the strongest desire or not.

In this 10-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • Why I’d tap into the migraine sufferer’s desire for a cure before the hangover sufferer’s
  • A common pitfall copywriters fall into when it comes to desire
  • Why you want to avoid writing for products with low degrees of duration
  • You don’t need the general population to love your product (just this one particular group)
  • The “mass desire” problem with a product like the Segway PT
  • What mass desire Olive & Cocoa tapped into with their leather tire gauge (it’s not what you think)

Want Copy That Actually Works? Start with Mass Desire

Demian Farnsworth: Hi, and welcome to Rough Draft, the daily podcast that delivers the essential writing advice you need to succeed online as a writer.

I’m your host, Demian Farnworth, the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media. And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.

So, this is episode 51. A monumental milestone. In less than four months we’ve made it to 51 episodes.

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Now, onto the show.

So here’s the thing … we all long for something.

  • Love that will last
  • The ability to influence people
  • Scenic vacations
  • Financial independence
  • Less anxiety
  • Stunning creative achievements
  • Organizational excellence
  • Relief from the sting of rejection
  • World-class athletic performance
  • Retaliation for when we are wronged
  • Invitations to the most popular parties
  • A savings account that never runs out
  • An impossibly broken family finally reunited
  • Recognition for your hard work
  • A Cosmopolitan body

See, copywriting that actually works hinges on connecting your product to one of these mass desires.

When that is done — when you’ve convinced your prospect that you can satisfy their desires — then people will not only fall in love with and buy your products, they will become unstoppable evangelists as well.

But that all depends on whether you choose the strongest desire or not.

So, let’s talk about mass desires.

The Three Components of Mass Desire

According to Eugene Schwartz, every mass desire has three components. It has degree, duration, and then it has scope.

So degree of urgency, intensity, or demand to be satisfied:

For example, finding a cure for bad breath is not as urgent a matter as not being able to breathe. So an asthmatic’s desire for an inhaler is going to be stronger than a blind date’s desire for a breath mint.

Same is true for curing a migraine versus just a hangover.

Why I’d Tap into the Migraine Sufferer’s Desire for a Cure Before the Hangover Sufferer’s

People who suffer from hangovers are miserable during the morning, maybe into the afternoon. But those who suffer migraines have their lives destroyed for days on end.

They are desperate — a moment away from a trip to the emergency room. So the degree of desire for migraine alleviation is urgent and intense.

So, the lesson here, is the greater the degree of urgency, intensity, or demand you can channel into your product … the better the appeal.

A Common Pitfall Copywriters Fall into When It Comes to Desire

But here is a pitfall most copywriters, marketers, and business owners fall into when it comes to desire …

They start with the product, and then see if there is any demand for it in the marketplace. Or, worse, they try to manufacture demand, which is very expensive — and why a lot of startups go out of business.

There is a better way.

Start with the customer first, find that mass desire, and then build a product to fulfill that desire.

For a copywriter, it works like this: only choose to write for products you know are going to be winners.

As Gary Bencivenga said about copywriters: we are like jockeys. Legendary jockeys choose the best horses. Legendary copywriters choose the best products.

You are not doing yourself any favors if you think your copy can rescue a bad product. You’re just digging an early grave for your career, because you will be buried with the product.

Okay. Enough about degree, let’s talk duration.

Why You Want to Avoid Writing for Products with Low Degrees of Duration

So products with a high degree of staying power, repetition, and inability to be satisfied will perform better than products with lower degrees of duration.

Basically we are talking about anything that plays with your pleasure and pain levels. Cigarettes fit this category: they are hard to quit, you want one right after another, and you need stronger ones to satisfy that original desire.

Video games play with the same pleasure and pain levels. As do James Patterson novels. Make up. And some social media sites.

You also don’t need any of these things. You do, however, need water. Three days without it and you’d die. But that doesn’t apply to most of us in the western world.

So that means water-bottling companies must compete on taste, design, or story. Which is not the best place to be in.

But so much for duration. Let’s look at scope, now.

You Don’t Need the General Population to Love Your Product (Just This One Particular Group)

Scope begins by asking “How many people share this desire?”

This is an important one. Because channeling mass desire doesn’t require that the general population love your product … just massive enough to be profitable.

For instance, how many men will pay to have premium hygiene products sent to their home? Birchbox for Men is hoping it’s enough. Or what about a beer foamer? Norm Architects is hoping enough. Olive & Cocoa thought men might like a leather tire gauge. They were right. The item sold out.

Apple bet big on the iPod — and cleaned house.

Dean Kamen bet big on the Segway PT — but lost. There simply weren’t enough people willing to pay to ride a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered vehicle.

What Mass Desire Olive & Cocoa Tapped into with Their Leather Tire Gauge (It’s Not What You Think)

But here’s the deal: Olive & Cocoa didn’t think there was a huge market of men wanting leather tire gauges. No.

What they figured was that there were probably enough people looking for novel gift ideas for men. That scope is probably big enough.

And since the novelty of such gifts wears off quickly, it’s got a short duration, which leads to repeat purchases (not of the same item, but others).

And since birthdays and Christmas can be urgent times, the intensity of this desire is strong, thus profitable. So Olive & Cocoa sells items to satisfy that desire.

You have to do the same. You have to find that strong desire. More than likely you’ll find more than one desire.

However, only one desire can sit in your headline. Only one is the key to unlocking the full profit potential of your ad.

Which desire you choose is the most important step. Get it wrong, and even the greatest copy won’t matter. Get it right, however, and the world can beat a path to your door.

As Eugene Schwartz said in Breakthrough Advertising, “Tap a single overwhelming desire existing in the hearts of thousands of people who are actively seeking to satisfy it at this very moment.”

In the next episode we’ll see what that looks like. Until then, take care.