ADVICE FOR FEMALE COPYWRITERS –
How to use gender-specific skills to write better and sell more…
by Debbie Feldstein
As a “woman of a certain age,” I remember a time when the common wisdom was that members of ‘the sisterhood' were ruled by our emotions…the hapless victims of feelings we couldn't control. Our wonderful gender-specific ability to feel and express emotion was seen as a negative and used against us to keep us from positions of power and influence.
“Do you trust a women with PMS to decide whether to launch a nuclear attack?” was asked of women in the political arena. “Do you want a woman breaking down in tears at a board meeting?” was asked of women in the corporate world. In response to this sexism, professional women in the 20 th Century often chose to hide their emotions and to adopt a traditionally masculine approach to business.
Things haven't changed all that much! Just recently comedian Bill Maher chided Britney Spears for her erratic behavior. He said that it was hard enough for female political candidates to convince the voting public that they're not unstable.
So even now, in the new millennium, women continue to de-value emotion and consider feelings “the enemy.” That's just wrong! To quote the iconic comic strip character Pogo: “I have seen the enemy and (s)he is us.”
Our feelings aren't the enemy, they're our friends…especially if we're copywriters! As women, we have a unique opportunity to tap into our emotional natures and use our feelings to create compelling, irresistible sales content.
In a misguided attempt to emulate the success of the ‘big boys' on Madison Avenue, many female writers mistakenly think they should try to ‘write like a man.' They've adopted a left side of the brain approach in their sales. They emphasize intellect over emotion to close the deal.
Inexperienced and unaware, they mute their own distinctively ‘female' voices and gender-specific characteristics, and crank out copy that makes sense to the mind, but doesn't speak to the heart. And that's a shame, because
People don't buy because of what they think.
They buy because of what they feel!
You Gotta Have Heart
When you write to sell, do you ‘speak' to prospects' hearts or to their minds? I hope you said heart. Because when sales and marketing copy starts with a presentation of a product's features and/or the company's credentials, the message is doomed to fail as soon as it begins. Why? Because
Features appeal to logic,
but logic doesn't drive sales
The features of a product include things like how a product works and what it's made of . Features are important, but if you present them on their own, without any emotional benefit attached, they're dull as dishwater.
The benefits of a product, on the other hand, appeal to a consumer's emotions. Benefits tell you how the features of a product will make you feel . Benefits talk about relieving pain, getting something for less money, making others jealous that you have something they don't.
Benefits are the emotional reasons that motivate people to make a decision. A list of benefits get a prospective buyer fired up to BUY NOW because they imagine how good they will feel after they make their purchase .
Logic is simply the justification.
To show you how this works, it's time for you to take off your marketing cap and put on your consumers hat. Read the pair of unique positioning statements below and decide which product you'd buy.
"Brand X" Jewelry Cleaning Kit
"Do you want to learn what you can do to make old worn-out jewelry look like new again?"
Widget Jewelry Cleaning Kit
"Discover how professional antiques dealers transform tarnished junk into vintage jewelry with an amazing product that's finally available to consumers."
When you read the question posed on the Brand X envelope, it's easy to say, "No, I don't want to learn something," and throw n the offer in the garbage. Case closed. Sale lost.
The Widget offer, however, packs a powerful 1-2 punch emotional punch -- actually a 1-2-3 punch -- that's a real knockout. Let's break it down.
Your KNOWLEDGE hot button is aroused by the word "discover"
We all want to know what's new.
Your TRUST hot button is stimulated by the word "authorities"
We're skeptical of what advertisers may say, but we trust the opinions of professional in a given field.
Your GREED hot button likes the idea that you can use this product to make money just like the dealers…by increasing the value of what you have.
Just 20 words deliver so much psychological prodding to your brain that before you know it, you're drooling with interest and ripping into that envelope, desperate to learn more about the offer…even though you may not even have any jewelry yourself!!!
Dozens of Buttons to Choose From
In all, there are nearly two-dozen hot buttons that most sales writers routinely press to give their copy power. Many of those emotional hot buttons come ‘pre-installed' in every consumer. Basic buttons speak to primal emotions like sex appeal, greed, and fear can be powerful motivators. And that's precisely the reason you see so many ads with headlines like:
“It Drives the Girls Crazy”
“Get More For Your Money”
“Is Your Family At Risk”
Some buttons are more complicated to push than others. Some buttons need to be pushed more than once before they work. But many are easy to understand and easy to incorporate into your copy. If you're new to the art of button-pushing, you may want to focus your efforts on these Top 4 Emotional Hot Buttons
The CURIOSITY Button
Arousing curiosity will turn apathy into interest. Press the curiosity hot button with phrases like:
Someone spilled the beans…
For Your Eyes Only
The INSTANT GRATIFICATION Button
People will buy a product that can be delivered instantly over a product that will take time to deliver. This is why downloadable eBooks are such a hit. Click a button, enter your credit card number and in a matter of seconds, you've got what you ordered. There's no worry and no waiting.
The CONVENIENCE Button
Whatever else they want, it is clear that consumers want to be able to buy what they want, when they want …without having to work too hard or travel too far. It's why package good stores are often also called convenience stores.
The EXCLUSIVITY Button
In a world where mass-production is the name of the game, an offer of exclusivity is especially appealing. Ms. Shopper thinks to herself, "There's no other person in the world like me and no other dress in the world like this one. I must have it NOW."
When you know how (and when) to push these hot buttons, you'll be able to create sales copy that holds consumers captive from the pre-headline through the order form.
Emotional marketing is the 'psychological operations' side of sales. Successful copywriters (of both genders) press emotional hot buttons to overcome any objections consumers may have about making a purchase.
On any battlefield, the most effective 'weapons' are often the least obvious. And in the war for consumer dollars, emotional hot buttons are stealth operators that work regardless of who is doing the selling or what they are selling.
One thing that psychologists will tell you is that there's a big difference between what you know in your mind and what you feel in your heart. Despite all consumers know about how advertising and marketing works…despite all the built-in sales resistance they've developed over a lifetime…despite KNOWING that a salesman's job is to convince us to do what's good for him (buy the product)…we are all susceptible to having our emotional buttons pushed.
Even me! And I've been selling one thing or another for more than 20 years.
Get Pushy & Become a Matchmaker
Sales copy should not try to fool consumers, pull the wool over their eyes, or trick them into buying something they don't want or need. That's not selling, that's scamming. I don't believe in it, and neither should you! I do, however, believe in what I call “white hat” selling. The essence of “white hat” selling is helping prospects make the best purchase decision to solve their problem.
The goal of ‘ white hat” sales copy is to demonstrate to the consumer that the right decision is to buy from your client . An honest sale is a win-win situation. It
Matches a consumer with needs
to a seller with a solution.
You can be a matchmaker by pressing emotional hot buttons. If you can get a handle on the emotional reasons consumers use to justify their decisions, then you can push those emotional hot buttons in all copy. You can use benefits to transform so-so sales letters, newspaper ads, marketing messages, brochures, etc. into super-sellers.
Once you master the techniques of bending the human mind to your will, you'll use them everywhere! They'll be yours forever...at the ready in your 'arsenal' to be powerful weapons in all sorts of professional and personal situations. Don't forget: emotional hot buttons are also important when you're selling YOU. You should ‘push buttons' in face-to-face meetings, in your sales and marketing materials, and on your own website.
So the next time someone says you're emotional, don't get mad. Be glad you've got what it takes – feelings – to write great sales copy!
About The Author
Debbie Feldstein is a freelance non-fiction writer based in New York City and the visionary wordsmith behind Creative Blocks Editorial Services. She provides a full menu of business collateral including press releases, brochures, sales letters, and autoresponders. A prolific writer, Debbie has authored dozens of books and hundreds of articles on sales and marketing topics. Among her ‘best sellers' are How to Market Your Small Business, Your UPS and You, How Tattoo Artists Earn Publicity, Newspaper Marketing, Leveraging Your Assets, and How to Create Information Products. Debbie recently launched a new coaching service aimed at freelance service providers. She works with marketing writers as well as photographers, graphic designers, and other ‘creatives' to help them build their client lists and promote their businesses effectively for pennies…or less!
For more information about her writing or coaching services, readers may contact Debbie through her website at www.creativeblocks.com
© 2007 WOW! Women On Writing
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarch 2007, Issue 8: The Freelance Union