Today, I want to talk about one of those things where I feel like it needs to come with a disclaimer.
Because it’s really powerful. But it’s also a little bit sinister.
So please, use this to be helpful to others — not hurtful. If you’re not going to do that, you should unsubscribe from my list and delete this email.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get to the lesson…
It’s about dark emotions. It’s about our “shadow” — the parts of ourselves we want to hide.
And it’s about one of the most powerful ways to get a prospect on your side, and turn them into a customer.
So, somewhere along the way, I became fascinated with our dysfunctions, as human beings.
Some of us are diagnosed. Like me, with my ADHD Inattentive.
But there’s also a lot that goes undiagnosed — often for our entire lives.
For example, it may not seem like it, but I deal with a certain level of anxiety. And sometimes I think I flirt with the edge of depression — especially in these winter months where I spend more time inside, and don’t get that critical Vitamin D from exposure to the sun.
For so many other people in my life, I could point to equal conditions. Some diagnosable, others not — and I’m not really trying to diagnose anybody here.
Once you’re turned on to this, it becomes apparent in everybody.
We’re all broken and insecure.
We all have areas of our lives where we’re not living up to even our lowest expectations — much less our higher ones. We all see our own failures clear as day — and we often have a much longer memory for these failures than we do for our successes.
We experience shame on a regular basis… Shame from what we think about ourselves… Shame from what we imagine others think about us… And occasionally (but far less than most of us imagine) also shame from what others really do think about us.
In first grade, I participated in the school talent show. I was in a play where we each had one line to do. The turn came around to me, and I froze. Stage fright. They waited. They urged me on. And then they went on, without me ever muttering a peep.
Since then, I’ve taken the stage many times and done well. But I still remember that emptiness where the line was supposed to be in my mind, and the intense anxiety I felt. Obviously it had some serious impact as I’m writing about it nearly three decades later. My classmates and teachers have probably all forgotten it, but I remember.
Almost all of us have a similar experience, in some sort of performance environment. It’s why so many folks are afraid of public speaking. Because we’ve failed once, in front of everyone (family, friends, the class, school, etc.) and never want to experience that again.
(The best actors, musicians, speakers, and performers fight back by simply getting good at getting back on track after their mistakes. Yes, they’ll still make them — they just hide them before the audience knows what happened.)
But it goes way beyond performance…
Sex. Appearance. Social status. Relationships.
Keeping up with the Joneses.
While there are thousands of surface symptoms, there are a few base desires that we all have. And no matter what we’ve got, we think we could have better. We see greener pastures across the way, we want them, and we feel horrible about ourselves because we don’t have them. We see what’s wrong, not what’s right.
And it makes us feel all the more broken and insecure.
If you make a habit of watching others and trying to understand them (as I have), you’ll start to notice it more and more.
I’ve taught my kids that often times bullies are that way because they have insecurities that they’re trying to hide. Rather than face their own (perceived) inadequacies, they cover them up with rough behavior.
But it’s not just bullies.
We all have this trash going on in our heads. We just choose different ways to conceal it. Maybe we’re passive-aggressive. Maybe we’re conceited. Maybe we can’t hide it and we shrink into ourselves.
Knowledge of this can be an incredibly powerful tool in the hands of an ethical salesperson or marketer.
When you get to know your market, you’ll start to see what some of the core inadequacies your prospects feel about themselves are, and how they line up with the benefits offered by your product or service.
This is probably the most powerful thing you could learn about your market. And the most powerful thing you could write about in your copy.
Now, it can never be up front. It has to be hidden underneath a layer of more superficial copy. Otherwise, your prospect will experience too much stress from your copy, and shut down.
But just look at how I talked about my own anxieties previously in this article. Maybe it made you think of your own? But I never had to mention it.
There are many ways — including admitting your own failures — to get in touch with these emotions in your prospects.
You can also tell stories in third person, that illustrate the negativity.
John Caples was a master at this. Just consider his ad for the ages, “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano, But When I Started To Play…”
If you’ve ever felt underestimated, put-down, or laughed at, this is powerful stuff. Especially if you’ve ever hoped to play the piano.
Oh, to prove them wrong! Oh to finally come out on top!
And in Caples’ case, he even used a fictional story to get at this emotion. And then he tied that story of social insecurity (and triumph) into the correspondence course on playing the piano that he had to sell.
In fact, in Caples’ Tested Advertising Methods, he gave a list of all the core desires he sought to address in his advertising…
– Make more money
– Save money
– Retirement security
– Better health now
– Health care security
– Security in old age
– Advance in profession or trade
– Easier chores
– Gain more leisure
– Reduce fat
– Freedom from worry
– Be in the “in” group
– Desire for bargain
– Beat the Joneses
For the most part, these are all one layer more superficial than the actual feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and brokenness. Which is what makes them perfect for a selling situation.
If you want to get really good at copywriting that persuades and motivates your prospect to action, you need to get really good at this stuff…
Watch people. Especially your market. Understand what’s going on in their heads. Understand the shame they feel. The brokenness they see in themselves. Their insecurities, doubts, and fears.
Learn to speak to them, without addressing them directly.
Bring up the problem in a way that doesn’t send them running away screaming out of an unwillingness to confront the truth.
And show them how one of the core benefits of what you offer is a solution to this problem.
One last thing…
Important announcement coming within 24 hours…
Using negative emotions in your copy was a huge topic at my Advanced Direct Response Copywriting Workshop. In far more detail than what I could ever cover in one of these articles.
In fact, at least one attendee said she came primarily for that!
Now, the behemoth task of editing the DVDs is far from done, but I do have the raw audio files available, along with the handouts.
And I know some folks are chomping at the bit to get this content ASAP.
So within the next 24 hours you’re going to get an announcement from me about this.
You’ll only have a couple days to get your order in — and the audio version will ONLY be available by itself this one time, and this will be the lowest price I ever offer recordings of the workshop at.
I just want to give you the heads up in case you’re interested in learning more about negative emotions — and the other advanced persuasion techniques required to become a high-level direct response copywriter.
Also, I have really cool news about ALL the copywriters who attended — and the results they’re getting. More about that with the announcement.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets