Hey there Rainmaker, ready to talk about how to get your reader emotionally hooked into your selling message?
Dominic, our oldest kid, is graduating kindergarten this week. It’s a big deal! This is the first grade that he’s ever officially finished. And, it marks the move into the actual numbered grades.
And let me tell you what, kindergarten today is nothing like it used to be.
Apparently a couple years back they transitioned the curriculum. They’ve always taught the alphabet, numbers, and so on in kindergarten. But, by my memory, it was basically advanced preschool. The real learning — reading, writing, arithmetic — began in first grade. Not so anymore!
As Dominic is reaching the end of his kindergarten year, he’s doing basic math — including adding and subtracting double-digit numbers. And, he’s reading and writing. The other day they had “story” day at his school, and he read out loud, to the class and parents, a (very) short story he’d written. This was a story with a beginning, middle, and end — written by a kindergartner! And, he’s reading. More and more, he’s as happy to read a book by himself as he is to have us read it to him.
Something else you ought to know is that he’s got a heck of an imagination. And he loves stories about ninjas, magic, intergalactic battles, superheroes, and just about everything else you’d expect from a young boy with relatively nerdy parents…
And so we thought it was a good time to introduce him to Harry Potter!
Over the last week or so, we’ve flown through that first Harry Potter book, as Dominic insists we read it in every free moment…
And it was in that book that I was reminded of a very important principle of storytelling…
AND a principle that — when applied to copywriting — can radically boost the emotional selling power of your copy.
Now, I spend a lot of time talking about the thinking behind great copy.
And the truth is that it’s absolutely critical you have a sound chain of logic behind your selling message — or you won’t move your reader to action. They won’t believe you. They won’t buy into your promises. And you won’t get the sale.
But logic alone will not make the sale.
Mr. Logic can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to creating compelling copy…
I won’t argue that you need logical copy to succeed in making a difficult sale.
But if you rely too much on Mr. Logic to make the sale for you, you’re in for an embarrassing fate.
Here’s what happens with really logical copy… (And I speak from experience!)
You write it, and it makes sense. You read it, and it feels like a sound argument to you. You can’t poke any holes in it.
So you submit it to your client. They’re probably not blown away by it. In fact, they probably don’t have a strong feeling about it at all. And unless they’re radar is tuned to the lesson I’m going to share with you today, they’ll think it’s “good.”
In fact, novice marketers often prefer copy written with the help of Mr. Logic, to the more effective approach we’ll talk about in a moment…
Then, because your client thinks it’s good — you test it.
The results are okay, at best.
Nothing spectacular. And if you’re in a competition, you probably didn’t beat the control.
Nobody can say you did anything wrong. After all, the copy seemed sound. The client though it was good enough to test.
It just didn’t perform.
The fact is, Mr. Logic sabotaged your success!
What happens when you let Mr. Logic help you write copy, is he appeals only to the rational side of the brain.
But it’s not the rational side of the brain that drags us into and through a marketing message.
Yes, the rational side of the brain is somewhere in the back, objecting if something just goes against all better sense and thinking…
But the rational brain — the one who would be moved by Mr. Logic — isn’t in charge of making a buying decision. The rational brain is only an “influencer.”
And if you, as the copywriter, let Mr. Logic persuade you otherwise…
Well, your copy will under-perform, you’ll never really get breakthrough results, and eventually your biz will dry up.
Do you see what I just did there?
Do you find yourself a little angry at “Mr. Logic”?
Do you find yourself wanting a way to keep him from messing up your copy, and sabotaging your results?
How much in royalties do you think Mr. Logic has stolen from you in the last 6 months? Don’t you want that to never happen again?!
I personified “Mr. Logic” as a human-like enemy, to get you emotionally hooked into what I had to tell you…
This is what I was reminded of in reading Harry Potter to my son.
All throughout the first book, there’s a character that is absent for nearly all of the book. But also present enough that he keeps you reading every page, hanging emotionally on young Harry’s fate.
Voldemort — or, “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” — is an ever-present enemy that is influencing the story, even in his absence.
He’s the reason Harry is an orphan. He’s the one everybody’s scared of. He’s the dark influence in the entire magical realm in which the story takes place.
This enemy creates inherent tension and conflict in the story.
Having an enemy is a shortcut that loops you in emotionally, and gets you — the reader — on the side of the protagonist.
As humans, we want enemies. We want to know what’s good, and what’s evil — and we want to stand on the side of good.
Having an enemy is incredibly powerful in copy…
I wrote recently that we are twice as motivated by the fear of loss as we are desire for gain — at least, when it comes to gambling experiments conducted by psychologists.
But I believe that this holds when it comes to copy, too.
Yes, a piece of copy that presents the opportunity for gain can be successful — I’ve seen many make millions of dollars.
But can you think of a really big, famous, successful direct response promo — one that shifted culture, not just got customers — that wasn’t driven by fear?
And how do you create fear?
Well, the quickest shortcut I know is through an enemy.
By naming the enemy, you’re giving your prospect something to join with you in fighting…
You’re putting yourself on the side of the prospect — not in conflict with them, trying to get their money…
Your message gains greater meaning. It holds more weight. It’s seen as more important — more urgent.
And — done well — that enemy represents a major problem that must be solved in the prospect’s life. And you have the solution.
The usual disclaimers apply…
And these are serious.
This is powerful stuff. Please don’t abuse it. Make sure you are able to fulfill on the promise of protecting them from the enemy — or, if too unpredictable to guarantee it, have taken every reasonable step to ensure you will.
And don’t invent “straw men” enemies. The best enemy is one that already exists — that will be recognized. You will simply add new and vivid detail to the extent of the threat, and you will provide a new and better, more comprehensive solution for the prospect.
And remember, like “Mr. Logic,” the enemy doesn’t even have to be a person. It can be a trend, a group, a faceless risk, or something else. But the more you can personify it — make it feel like a real thing — the more powerful it will be.
Do this well, and you will wield one of the most powerful emotional persuasion tools that exists…
The use of an enemy in story goes back to the time before humans could even write.
In Judeo-Christian culture, there was an enemy in the Garden of Eden, before humans even knew the difference between good an evil.
This is deep inside the human experience.
And because of this, incredibly powerful.
You don’t even have to make it the entire focus of your promotion. For example, I have a mostly gain-driven promotion I’m working on, where I simply sprinkle in a couple “enemy” references to keep them worked up and reading, then responding. You don’t have to make it the focus of everything, but it doesn’t hurt to find a way to work it in to everything — even if it’s only very subtle.
Apply the “enemy” principle inside a logical promo structure, and you’re going to be writing some pretty hot copy!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets