When I come across great writing, I cherish it, slowing down take in each well-crafted sentence, like savoring individual bites of a freshly-baked pie. A beautiful sentence will capture me and I’ll read it once, twice, then several more times to feel the words wash over me. My emotions range from joy to admiration to shear frustration. I wallow in sentence-envy; convinced I’m a fraud; wondering how it could seem so easy to make words dance. Wonderful writing is enough on its own, and it should be read for sheer joy.

Marketing writing is something different. This is writing that gets up early in the morning, downs a nutritious breakfast, and heads off to work while it’s partner, Prose, muses on the couch with a cup of spicy chai. Marketing has a job to do. And that job is to motivate customers. When writing for your business, you need to get results.

Going Biblical

One way to move a person to act is to act on their emotions. Stir up intense feelings, then deliver the solution in the form of your product or service. It’s nothing new. This is a time-honored marketing technique. Understanding human emotion goes back as far as civilization itself. In fact, we can get biblical when it comes to categorizing the buttons you can press in a marketing message. That’s right; I’m talking about the seven deadly sins.

Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, wrath, and their new modern sibling, FOMO, provide us with a good structure for understanding what makes people tick. If you’re not yet acquainted with FOMO, that’s because she’s been on an endless Instagram-posted vacation. FOMO’s full name is “Fear Of Missing Out.”

Moved by Sin

You can use your understanding of human needs to tug at your customers’ heartstrings. If you’re having a hard time getting your head wrapped around the biblical reference, let me translate the sins into marketing language.

Pride drives people to desire clothes, cosmetics, and cars that make them look good. Greed and its partner fear-of-loss, will get people to think about making, saving, or insuring their money. Envy is the mother of FOMO, and she wants you to know you’re not enough if you don’t have the newest gadget. Gluttony is an expert in the dining-out segment, and the muse for about two-thirds of all SuperBowl ads. Sloth sold you your sleep number bed, recliner-couch, and that huge flat screen TV.

Wrath is a tricky one. Does anger sell? A decade ago I would have thought it best to sideline this emotion, but it seems to be a real motivator in politics. My hope is we can keep it out of the consumer world.

Social media fertilized the ground in which the seeds of FOMO were nurtured. Now some of the most powerful marketing tools are Internet influencers; entrancing people with that most human of motivations – the idea that someone else is having a better life than you.

While I’ve read some beautifully put together marketing prose, you can’t stop at good writing when you’ve got a product, service, or concept to sell. You need to tug at fundamental motivations so your consumer will take action.

If you fear you’re missing out on writing that motivates customers, I can help!

Copyright 2019, Liz Behlke