Ever see one of those sappy “morality tale” movies?
You know—the kind where the acting is horrible and the plot feels contrived and the movie ends with a 10-minute soliloquy where the main character lectures everyone on the moral hazards of [fill in the blank]?
Did the movie convince you? Or did you find yourself wanting to disagree just to spite the ham-fisted producer who foisted this garbage on you?
Addressing deep issues in a persuasive way takes a deft touch—it’s true in movies, and it’s especially in emails and sales copy.
Subscriber Carl is wondering about how to tap into the “core emotions” your subscribers have without coming off as heavy-handed:
Like, you know they have deep desires and issues – but addressing the real deep ones is a tricky process. We know people have a deep desire for love – but you would not go out and say that to someone as it would repel them…
…so how do we get past the outer layers of the onion to get to the emotional core in our email writing?
Sometimes these “core emotions” are things we want but don’t believe we can ever really achieve.
Sometimes they’re unconscious beliefs we hold deep down but would never admit, even to ourselves:
Many newer copywriters will read about the effectiveness of using “core emotions” in your copy and treat these delicate (and often unconscious) emotions like they’re any other benefit—
They make big, bold promises about how your wife will admire you when you finally get that promotion, or how jealous your friends will be of your toned abs…
This fails for the same reason that “morality tale” movies fail, by violating the cardinal rule of good writing:
“Show, don’t tell.”
Here are three techniques I use regularly when I want to tap into one of these core emotions without making promises my reader will reject:
1. Use testimonials. When I’m collecting testimonials, I’m always looking for some hint of the deeper emotions that compelled the customer to take action. Then I’ll work with the customer to bring that emotion to the fore.
2. Ask thought-provoking questions. Open-ended questions that set your prospect’s mind racing to imagine their own future. What would it be like if… What do you think would happen if…
3. Tell stories. Revealing stories about yourself, intimate stories of your customers. Show the inner conflict and the relief and joy when it was finally resolved.
Of the three options, stories are the most powerful, because the actions and details you include can convey the emotion for you… without putting it into words.
So when dealing with core emotions, resist the temptation to lecture or make grandiose promises.
Let the emotions emerge from the words of others, from the questions you ask and the stories you tell.
And you’ll spare your email copy the fate of many a C-grade movie.