People don’t really make decisions rationally; rather, they are what Dan Ariely calls predictably irrational. Reason is not behind their decisions, emotion is. People think of a rational explanation afterwards for the decision they made.
This means you need to write content that triggers the emotion that will cause people to buy your product or service, or to do whatever else it is you want them to do. You just need to be careful how you go about it. If people feel that they are being manipulated, they will turn off in a heartbeat.
The most effective copywriting will appeal to strong emotional triggers but it must be done with subtlety. Content that crudely hammers home a message will fall into the realm of the late night television pitch and be deemed untrustworthy or cheap. Heavy handed, emotion-stabbing content will drive away more prospects than it converts.
Know Your Audience
As always, you must know who you are trying to reach with your copywriting. The more tightly your buyer persona is drawn, the better you will be able to develop content that appeals directly to your target. And it will keep you from sparking the wrong feelings and make your audience disconnect.
An accurate, well-researched buyer persona not only helps you define which emotions drive your target’s decisions, it keeps all of your marketing on track by focusing it in a specific direction. Write as though you are writing to an individual acquaintance. This should minimize the urge to try to appeal to everyone and personalize the content to make it appealing to your target.
Understand the Most Powerful Emotional Triggers
The strongest emotions are those that speak to someone’s very core. They tend to be the first emotions that are identified in a small child.
Some of these are thought of as negative. But triggering negative emotion is not necessarily bad. If you are seeking support for one side of a controversial subject, triggering anger is a powerful inducement to create change. Fear is another very powerful negative emotion that is often used to sell products purporting to keep people safe, one of the most basic of human needs. Guilt is a favorite emotional trigger of many charitable organizations.
The more powerful the emotion, the more likely it will move someone. But, again, be subtle. If you come on too strongly, your audience will immediately understand what you are doing and will tune you out.
Tell a Story
One of the easiest ways to get the emotions involved in through story-telling. Stories are a natural way of presenting thoughts and ideas by putting them in situations that everyone understands. Without emotions to motivate the story, it falls flat.
This makes telling a story one of the strongest and smartest ways to use emotional triggers in your marketing copy. It helps keep things subtle while still leading your audience in the direction you want them to go. Story-telling is also a great way to keep someone’s attention, an important point in today’s short-attention span world.
Provide Reasons to Justify the Decision
Dan Ariely’s theory of the predictably irrational means that people can be manipulated in a predictable way if you understand the precise emotion that drives them to buy your product or service. Once you know the emotional trigger in play, you can appeal to it. And you include reasons for justifying their decision.
Most people want to give the impression that they are rational people who make decisions based on facts and logic. They don’t want to seem slaves to their emotions. So once a decision is made, influenced by emotion, people immediately go about propping up that decision with something that sounds like reason.
Your best marketing copy will always trigger emotions, even if that isn’t your intent. If you know your prospects well, you know what appeals to them. And appealing to someone is an emotional method of convincing him or her to listen to you. Add in those juicy rationalization builders and your prospect will have all the tools needed to “feel good” about a decision to buy.