7 Classic Copywriting Approaches for Direct Marketing
Feb 16, 2017
Copywriting is selling. It’s as simple as that. And, regardless of the channel you use to sell your products or services, creating an emotional impact with your copy is a great way to capture a customer’s attention and close the sale. Five emotion-based approaches along with copywriting examples are detailed below (plus two additional approaches that are proven winners). Each offers an approach copywriters can use to create hard-working communications in any marketing channel.
When someone does a good deed, you feel obligated to repay the favor. This basic human emotion is at the core of Robert Cialdini’s second principle of persuasion: Reciprocation. Financial seminars that urge you to “Enjoy a free dinner and discover how to retire early” are using this tactic to encourage you to be more open to their pitch and even use their services.
It is one of our most primal – and powerful -- emotions. Fear is literally built into our DNA. And if the product you’re selling helps mitigate a danger, it’s wise to make this part of your main message. For instance, consider these two headlines about life insurance, a financial product commonly sold using fear.
“Pays $500,000 if you pass away.”
“Would your family lose their home if you pass away?”
The first states the insurance benefit, which is nice. The second tugs at our innate fear of leaving loved ones unprotected. That’s powerful. Another aspect of fear is the fear of missing out. This too can be a powerful motivator. It’s why it’s always smart to include an end date on promotions and make sure people know to act quickly so they “Don’t miss out!”
Our excessive desire to acquire stuff, commonly called greed, is a fact of life. Appealing to this reality is the right way to go, emotionally speaking, for some products. It’s why restaurants ask if you want to “supersize” your meal. It’s also why a realtor selling a six bedroom/six bathroom home urges homeowners to “Live the life of luxury.”
This emotion can be a powerful motivator. It’s the staple message for all sorts of charity organizations such as “Save the Children” or the ASPCA. Who doesn’t feel the urge to pick up the phone and donate when they see a starving child or shivering puppy? Guilt can also be a strong emotional trigger when you’re marketing lifestyle products. For instance, a gym membership ad might read “Join now” or “Think salad for the holidays”.
We all deal with annoyances. Unexpected fees. Long lines. Shoddy service. By pointing out these shortcomings in competitors you can pique customer’s anger, drive a wedge between them and your competitors and position your product as a better solution. When Southwest Airlines asked “Why do they hate your bags?” (a reference to the fees other airlines charge to check luggage) you can see this tactic in action.
The next two copywriting/sales approaches aren’t emotion based but that doesn’t mean they’re not effective. In fact, once you understand the strategy, you’ll see them being used all around you, every day.
People want to do business with someone they can trust. That’s why testimonials work so well. It’s also why brands pay big bucks to spokespeople and promote third-party endorsements like the Better Business Bureau. This copy approach is captured perfectly in the famous headline for Federal Express, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
Status is a powerful draw for some people. Whether it’s a backstage pass, a member’s only sale or just acknowledging a customer’s good credit rating, suggesting your product is something not everyone can have drives up its value. In economic terms, scarcity breeds demand.
The beautiful thing about all these approaches is that they work equally well online, offline and at point-of-sale. The fact is emotional selling has been around a very long time. And there’s a reason why – because it works. So before you start crafting your next message, think beyond the benefit. What’s the emotional impact the benefit will have on potential customers. That’s the route to success.