Circumstances have changed, fads have come and gone, but it seems that human beings haven’t changed all that much in the past 50+ years. For the most part, we still have many of the same desires, hopes, and dreams as those who came before us.
Understanding what it is that drives your right people will help you tap into their deepest desires and show them that you’re the best person to help them.
In his 1956 masterpiece, Mail Order Strategy, famed copywriter Victor Schwab (1898 – 1980) understood this intuitively. He compiled a list of 40 key emotional drivers and segmented them into four distinct sections. Understanding each segment and how its unique purpose applies to your writing will be far more beneficial to you than trying to commit all 40 drivers to memory. You may even think of some new potential drivers that apply more relevantly to your own business or industry.
The four sections include things that people want to gain, save, be, and do.
Things people want to:
No one spends money or time to come out worse off on the other side of their investment. So, how will your readers’ lives be better after having purchased what you are offering? What will they get out of it?
Minimizing risk and maximizing gain are common to each of us. What will your reader be able to save by making a purchase from you? How does buying from you benefit them more than either holding onto their money or buying a competitor’s offering?
We all have aspirations. The idea of becoming something better is likely among the reasons that led the customer to your doorstep. So, what does your reader desire to become? Where do they see themselves in the next phase?
Accomplishments. No matter who we are or what we do, we can never have enough of them, really. So what is it your right people are really and truly trying to pull off, produce, or realize in their lives right now?
40 Key Emotional Drivers
Things people want to gain:
- Praise from others
- Pride of accomplishment
- Improved appearance
- Advancement (social and business)
- Security in old age
- Personal prestige
Things people want to save:
Things people want to be:
- Good parents
- Recognized authorities
- “First” in things
- Sociable, hospitable
- Proud of their possessions
- Influential over others
Things people want to do:
- Express their personalities
- Satisfy their curiosity
- Appreciate beauty
- Win the affections of others
- Resist being dominated
- Emulate the admirable
- Acquire or collect things
- Improve themselves in general
Compelling people to take action through an emotional connection is powerful. So powerful, in fact, that some may find this sort of tactic manipulative. But I disagree.
Every seller is a buyer somewhere else. We all buy from brands we like and from people we trust. The ability to understand and empathize with our right people shows we get them. It proves we are familiar with them and their plight, whatever that might look like at this particular juncture. And that empathy coupled with familiarity is a segue to trust.
If you’re in the business of helping people above making money, which I think most successful companies are, regardless of size or stature, then this list will allow you to reach your right people and serve them fluidly. Whether that help looks like achieving a goal or a dream, solving a problem, or reaching a new height, then you’re on the right track to appeal to the side of them that wants it. Remember, you’re not instilling a motivation, you’re tapping into an existing one.
This list certainly isn’t designed to apply to everyone in every circumstance, nor is it exhaustive. It’s simply a gathering of some of the most popular emotional motivators that so many of us feel inspirited by. It’s by no means is it an excuse to sidestep the work of getting to truly know your right people. Quite the contrary. This list won’t work unless you do. Know who your people are, what they need, and let the list work for you.
So how do you reach into the hearts and minds of your right people?
I’m a Brand Therapist® providing psychology-based branding, copywriting, and consulting to individuals and micro-businesses in the creative arena. My signature services will help you discover and articulate your most authentic self so you can tell better stories, make meaningful connections, and do more profound work.