How to Appeal to Your Buyer’s Heart
Advertising appeals fall into two broad categories: the rational and the emotional. The rational relies on facts and figures, charts and graphs. The emotional relies on gut reactions – associations, good and bad, to things we’ve experienced in the past.
It’s often said that people are sold because of emotional reasons, and justify their purchase because of rational ones. There’s a lot of truth in that, and the most effective advertising incorporates both emotional and rational appeals.
What Emotions Work?
In his classic book, Mail Order Strategy, legendary copywriter Victor Schwab outlined 40 key emotional drivers. They included things people want more of (prestige, comfort, money), things they want to save (time, work, embarrassment), things they want to be (influential, up-to-date, creative) and things they want to do (appreciate beauty, improve themselves, express their personalities).
In The Art of Writing Copy, renowned copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis distilled emotional appeals to five primary ones: fear, greed, exclusivity, guilt and approval.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll use Lewis’ five and illustrate with some real examples.
Deer damage, tomato blight, drought, frost, poison ivy – there’s plenty to fear in the garden.
This headline from Sunsetter Awnings plays masterfully into our fears of contending with summer heat: Outsmart the weather.
Beware of onion thrips! warns the subject line of one email from onion plant grower Dixondale Farms, playing on the gardener’s fear of damaging pests.
Disease resistant fruit trees & berries, a headline from Raintree Nursery, approaches the same fear from a different angle. While any fruit tree nursery could make the same claim, no one else features it prominently. An appeal doesn’t have to be unique to work.
Greed is just another word for saving things like time and money. Easy, inexpensive summer blooms, an email subject line from American Meadows, promises to do both.
In the gardening world, lots of appeals to greed start with “grow,” such asGrow more vegetables with drip irrigation (Dripworks) and Grow your profits with eco-friendly products (Clean Air Distributing).
Take back your weekends! declares a Cyclone Rake ad, offering the overworked homeowner more time to enjoy life.
Gardening appears to be a guilt-free pleasure, judging by the lack of guilt-based headlines. While I could not find a single real-life example of a guilt-based headline, some hypothetical possibilities include Don’t kill another plant! and Help for your water-starved perennial beds.
It’s a bold claim, but here’s what The Liquid Fence Company ad says:Gardening experts agree…The only way to stop deer damage is to use Liquid Fence. Testimonials from nationally known horticulturalists support the statement.
Emotional appeals often rely on images. For instance, an ad for a decking system — headlined Your life, your dreams, your space – shows a lovely styled deck overlooking a lush green lawn. The photograph alone exudes exclusiveness.
You would think that gardeners’ natural inclination to compete for the earliest tomatoes or the biggest onions would lend itself to headlines appealing to the need for approval, but I only found one. Sent just before Mother’s Day, an email subject line from Burpee invites the reader to Grow a smile on Mother’s face. Who doesn’t want to make Mom happy?
Emotions play such a vital role in selling that it’s foolhardy to ignore them. Learn to craft headlines that tug at your prospects’ heartstrings and you’ll stand head and shoulders above the competition.