by Gauk
Thu, Jul 26, 2018 11:17 PM

While you may not need a PhD in psychology to write sales copy, it helps to take a lesson or two from the study of human behaviour to get the maximum value from your writing.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Need

In the 1950s Dr. Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of human needs:

1. Physiological needs include the need for food, clothing and shelter.

2. Security and Safety needs include the need to be free from physical danger and to be secure in the feeling that physiological needs can be met.

3. Social needs involve the need to be loved, to be accepted and to belong.

4. Ego needs involve the need to be heard, to be appreciated and to be wanted.

5. Self Actualization needs involve the need to achieve one's fullest potential.

He suggested that people are motivated by this hierarchy of needs and as they are met, beginning with step 1 those needs are no longer motivating.

In general, most people in industrialized nations have met their physiological and safety needs. Therefore, they are seeking now to satisfy social needs, ego needs and self actualization needs.

It is probably no coincidence that social media is such a fast growing phenomenon in societies that seek acceptance and belonging.

You can apply Maslow's hierarchy to sales writing by understanding where your product fits on the hierarchy of need and where your target market sits on the hierarchy of need, then tailoring your writing to respond to that need. For example, retailers who sell clothes may fit on one of several levels:

1. Physiological: Durable, warm children winter coats.

2. Security: Children winter coats with no dangling pull strings that could strangle, reflective material that can be seen in the dark and weatherproofing against snow and rain.

3. Social: Children winter coats in up to date styles and colors.

4. Ego: Children winter coats with high status brand names such as Tommy Hilfiger or celebrity status such as part of the Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers collection.

5. Self Actualization: Children winter coats that are made by women cooperatives or do not contain any material from animals.

Your children winter coats may actually respond to each level of the hierarchy. You might write about the coats differently, depending on which target market you hope to attract.

Attract the reader with a powerful headline.

Your sales copy needs to begin by attracting the reader's attention. You can attract attention in a number of ways.

1. Describe a benefit that responds to the hierarchy, e.g.:

a. Physiological: The warmest winter coat you will find this year.

b. Security: Keep your child safe and warm.

c. Social: She will be a fashionable in our faux leopard print winter coat.

d. Ego: Vera Wang gave our children fur lined Sherpa jacket as a gift.

e. Self Actualization: Your child will love our ultra warm winter coat and she will love helping a child in Botswana as well.

2. Use an emotion that responds to the hierarchy:

a. Physiological: Your child will never be cold again.

b. Security: Safety first with our best winter coats.

c. Social: Belong to the in crowd with our fashion first winter coat.

d. Ego: Your child will turn heads in her new winter coat.

e. Self Actualization: Build a bridge of caring with our top of the line children winter coat from the Mexican Women Cooperative.

3. Announce something new or special about your product:

If the headline does not grab your customer, they will not read the rest of the copy.

Solve your customer's problem.

One of the biggest mistakes that sales copy writers make is to focus on the product features, at the expense of making the connection between the customer's problem and how the product solves the problem. Here are some examples.

Instead of:

'Our portable cell phone charger has 1800 mAH.'


'You can use your cell phone for six hours longer when you use our 1800 mAH portable cell phone charger.'

Instead of:

'This blouse comes in five jewel toned colors.'


'With this blouse's choice of five jewel toned colors, you can choose the color that best expresses your personality.'

Take a step back and think about your product in terms of the needs it meets and/or the problems it solves, then try writing problem solving phrases. Do any of those possibilities resonate as a possible headline or component of the copy content?

Bottom Line

Understand why your customer wants and needs your product, then frame your copy in those terms.

The Psychology Of Writing Sales Copy Part II
In Part I we discussed Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of human needs and showed how you can use this concept to understand your customer and target your sales copy to address those needs. Part II provides more guidance on how to translate your understanding of human behavior into well-tuned sales copy.
Match your words to your audience:
Your target audience will respond to your sales copy message if it is written using language that they can relate to and understand. For example:
If your target audience is the 55+ age group, you probably should not use acronyms or abbreviations such as 'FAQs', 'wifi', or '3G network'. While it is certainly true that there are plenty of very web savvy older people, you should be sure that your 55+ group shares that knowledge base before you start slinging around those terms.
If you are a UK based retailer that provides bespoke products and want to break into the U.S. market, do not use the word 'bespoke'! This is not a term in common usage in the U.S. and it simply will not be understood. You will need to use words like customized or specially designed instead.
If you are talking to moms with kids, you can be a little bit cheeky as in referring to their children as kids or little tykes or something similar, but you need to understand that mothers are all about protecting and loving their children and if you get too irreverent, you will turn them off.
Your words need to be understood, need to resonate and need to respect your audience.
Establish and maintain a style:
Branding is a huge part of product promotion. Your writing style should be a part of your branding strategy. For example, if you go to the Apple site, you will find that their computer descriptions all seem to swirl around themes of easy, creative and seamless, no matter which computer product is being described.
Think about what style you should use? Do you need to attract 20 somethings with edgy, sharp language? Are you looking for a very affluent market that needs to hear about prestige, one of a kind options, and highest quality available kinds of phrases?
Your sales copy is a great way to demonstrate who you are as a company and how you feel about your products.
Positive, not negative phrasing:
This guideline should be obvious but if you read product descriptions, you can see that it is not. Write in positive terms, not negative terms.
Try not to say, 'Only available in black or white.' Instead say, 'Available in your choice of black or white.'
Try not to say, 'We only ship domestically.' Instead say, 'We are happy to ship within the UK.'
Always try to turn negatives into positives.
Helpful hints:
One of the best ways to both help your customers and gain their trust is to write helpful hints into your product copy. For example:
After describing your smashing new jeans, you might say, 'These are made a bit roomy so if you are a size six and wish you were a size four, here is your chance!'
After describing the lustrous color your hair coloring products will provide, you might give a piece of advice, 'Although you will find that our product is completely non irritating, it still makes sense to skip a hair washing before using any hair coloring product, the natural oils in your unwashed hair will help protect your scalp.'
Promote your assembly required dollhouse and say, 'We found this house really easy to assemble, especially if you divide the four types of fasteners into individual paper cups so they are easy to find and they do not roll away when you are trying to pick one up.'
Remember to ask for the sale:
Be sure that your sales copy asks the reader to purchase and gives them the means to do so. Announce your limited offer of free shipping and provide an icon to click or ask, 'These are so handy, do you want to buy two right away?'
Bottom Line:
Writing good sales copy gets easier as you understand more and more about your customer and how they think.
published by Gauk



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