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Is it Wrong to Use Emotional Triggers in Sales Letters?
A reader recently asked me, “Is it wrong to use emotional triggers when writing direct mail or marketing copy? It sounds confusing and I’m not sure it’s legal. What do you think?”
I replied as follows:
On the surface using emotional triggers may seem like a distraction. But if you look closely, it’s not. When I first started my copywriting career, this was one of the things I researched very carefully. I was determined to write with life, and with integrity. In fact, when I think about how much I loved all kinds of advertisements as a child and believed them to be deceptive, manipulative and often lies, I have to laugh at how much I’ve learned since then and how my mind is. it has changed.
Obviously my mindset changed a lot or I wouldn’t be a book writer and business consultant/marketer and teacher. What led to such a change was the realization that while the copy used in advertising may NOT be misleading, in many cases, it is not. Instead, it’s a service that allows busy people to find the things they want faster and easier for them than if they had to find answers to their needs on their own.
When it comes to using thought triggers in sales letters, here’s what I found:
- Because people are so busy it takes a lot to get their attention. Getting attention often requires mental intervention.
- Just like when you meet someone, you think emotionally about whether you will be friends or not, the same happens with business and work.
- if you have a need and I give you a solution, you will choose the solution that makes you feel good emotionally – the solution that eases your pain and makes you feel better.
- If I don’t explain your pain and address how my solution can alleviate it, then how do you know that I understand your pain, and if I don’t understand your pain, how can you be sure that my solution is sustainable? Are you ready for treatment?
- By creating an emotional connection, we capture the audience’s attention long enough to explain how our products can help them. No more, no.
Many people like to believe that they make wise decisions. However, the truth is that people make emotional decisions and use emotions, once a decision is made, to support it.
There are times when we use a systematic approach with a ‘proving’ step rather than our own opinion when promoting a product or service. For all intents and purposes, this approach is based on ‘hard feelings’ and not emotional at all. However, when you examine this method carefully, you will see that it is emotional because it speaks to the person’s intelligence, making them feel like they are making a sound decision based on ‘facts’. This makes them feel empowered and thus happy that they have made the right decision. That’s the obsession at work, isn’t it?
The bottom line is that it is impossible to sell everything without emotional triggers – the key is to use them ethically.
Emotions are an important part of life. We cannot escape. Because we make emotional decisions and feed them back clearly, if we are not clear and based on our expectations, we will find that we are not ‘seeing’ the object fully. It is like asking a blind person for a picture of the sky. He may know that there is a sky, he may know that it is blue, but he has no ‘knowledge’ of its reality.
Psychologists tell us that our personality, behavior and even our successes and failures are determined by our experiences. Our experiences create a mental ‘image’ in our unconscious mind. Everything we do and what we do is ‘beautiful’ with this image. If our experience has taught us that we are a failure in a certain area, every time the opportunity arises to participate in that area, we will fail, even if there is no real reason to do so.
We tend to develop thought patterns, or responses, to anything we encounter. That’s how we wire. Even if we tried to avoid using emotional triggers in our sales letters, I doubt we could. The most dry letters in the tradition, which are sold out on elicit an emotional response in the reader.
Imagine receiving a sales letter that begins:
“Dear Sir or Madam,
I respectfully request you. XYZ Widgets Inc. has been in business for 35 years in the town of Ajax, Texas. We are well respected in the industry. This is a family-owned company and we pride ourselves on our commitment to excellence.
XYZ Widgets Inc. has released a new version. This feature is designed to outperform any other similar widget on the market. It has taken our senior engineers several years to perfect this project and we are confident that you will enjoy it if you decide to buy from us. “
I’m sure the picture in your mind would be of a tired old man in a dusty, damp office in a dirty factory somewhere…
Of course, none of this will make the company or its products look like they have a cutting-edge, innovative approach. Worst of all, it doesn’t try to impress readers by showing them how the new product can help them in their business. The sad thing is that in these competitive times, people’s biggest concern is often, “What can I do?
By addressing what your readers are listening to, your sales letter can get a leg up on the competition by focusing on what is most important to your readers. This applies whether you are writing for B2B or B2C. Basically, all your customers are people, so we should treat them as such.
Yes, the use of stimulants can be deceptive. It is our job as copywriters and marketers to make sure that when we write sales letters we are not fooled. Our goal should be to empathize, educate and inform, using emotional triggers carefully and deliberately for the benefit of our readers and ourselves.
© Jackie Cooper 2009
It may be reprinted at the request of the author including the website being published along with the article.
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