Imagine I’m Willy Wonka flinging open the gates of the online business Chocolate Factory.

“Come inside and see the magic of persuasion revealed!”

Unless you end up like Augustus Gloop, and fall into a chocolate lake, I’m going to show you two powerful methods of persuasion used by direct response copywriters to hook potential customers.

You’ll recognise these techniques….

Mostly likely, you’ve responded to them at some point in the past, whether you’re aware of it or not.

Don’t worry about it – this doesn’t mean you’re gullible – we’ve all done this.

It’s not some evil hypnotic mind-control hack that traps the weak-minded.

Quite simply – it’s an essential method of persuasion that’s based on how our emotions work.

And if you can harness this for your online business, you can achieve the following:

  • Make ANY sales offer more alluring
  • Break down barriers of resistance in a noisy, crowded online marketplace.
  • Get a customer genuinely excited about your product or service
  • Make sure that someone keeps reading your sales copy

First, I’m going to explain the principles to you, then I’ll give you TWO formulas you can apply to your copy.

Let’s start with the founding principle…

Emotions sell

People buy because of an emotional impulse, not an intellectual one.

Antonio Damasio is professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California. In his book, Descartes Error, he writes that emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions.

As he puts it in an interview with Scientific American, “I continue to be fascinated by the fact that feelings are not just the shady side of reason but that they help us to reach decisions as well.”

Psychology Today delve into his findings succinctly when they say:

“When we are confronted with a decision, emotions from previous, related experiences affix values to the options we are considering. These emotions create preferences which lead to our decision.”

Now, there’s a wide range of emotions that we draw upon, based on our experiences.

You might find that whatever specialised niche you are in has its own specific emotional hooks.

For instance, if you have a website selling vintage toys, nostalgia and childhood memories might be key.

If you’re running a crowdfunding website, then altruism – a desire to help others – might be the main emotion.

However, to make things simple for you, I want to boil today’s email down to the two most fundamental emotional driving forces behind almost all sales pitches.

One is fear.

We go through life with doubts and worries… negative thoughts like: I’m never going to have enough money, I don’t want to get ill, I’m scared of being alone, I’m failing in my ambitions, I’m not educated or skilled enough…

Many products and services offer a way out of, or a way around, these fears.

  • Do you make these embarrassing mistakes with your English? Here’s an online language course that will solve the problem
  • Get rid of your retirement money worries with this savings scheme…
  • Blood in your sink when you brush your teeth? It could be a sign of serious gum disease. Here’s a toothpaste formula that will prevent it

You’ll recognise some of the above as real ads from real products.

The other big emotional driver is desire.

We go through life yearning for things we don’t have right now…. I want to be more attractive, I wish I was wealthier, I’d like people to admire my success, I want to have a more exciting career, I’d like to be pain-free, I want to be respected.

Equally, many products and service offer a path towards achieving these desires.

  • Turn back the clock to a younger you – this cream reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Finally, be your own boss – earn £300 day working from home.
  • Find love at last, meet your perfect match with our online dating agency.

If you want to sell your product, or make your piece of free content widely shared, you need to tap into one of these big emotional drivers.

As an example, let’s take something like joint pain.

Many people suffering from this worry that it’ll prevent them from gardening, walking, playing with the grandkids… or make life unpleasurable and destroy much of what gives them meaning.

A fish oil product, packed with omega 3s that helps alleviate joint pain, could be sold as a solution to that fear.

Or you could take a desire-based approach with the very same product.

Many people who suffer from joint pain also desire an end to that pain, to be able to do things they used to do, to enjoy life and feel younger again.

So they are two big emotional drivers and very different angles you can take there.

Or let’s say you’re selling a course in public speaking.

Your customer might be driven by a fear of failure, of being exposed, not being educated enough, of lacking self-confidence…

Or they might be driven by the desire to gain status, to be respected, to advance their career, to boost their self-esteem or make money.

So with this in mind, let’s look at the two formulas you can use to lead into any long sales letter and make it emotionally compelling.

These formulas should be the basis of the headline and the opening three or four paragraphs.

The P.A.S Formula

For the fear-based approach copywriters use something called the P.A.S formula

  • Problem – Identify your reader’s emotional trigger point, the deep worry or concern that they might have.

Example: “Are you struggling to make money from your website?”

  • Agitate – stir up those emotions in the reader so you draw them out. Use examples, case studies, analogies, anything to show them that you understand their problem or desire, using concrete terms they recognise.

Example: “There’s nothing worse than seeing your marketing efforts go to waste… that disappointment when you fail to make any sales…”

  • Solve –Suggest how you can help solve the problem.

Example: “I’ve just put together a special report on a revolutionary new method of getting free traffic from social media in just 30 minutes effort a day.”

See how it works? You tap into a fear or concern, get the reader to think about it, then offer to solve it.

Or you could take the more positive approach…

The Picture / Promise Formula

To tap into desire, use the Picture/Promise technique.

  • Picture – portray the ideal positive outcome of using your product. Describe specifically how their life would be better.

Example: Imagine, instead of your daily commute, you can get out of bed whenever you want…. switch on your laptop… and find you’ve made £500 overnight”

–          Promise – Make a specific promise about what you’re offering.

Example: “I’d like to send you a free copy of a report that tells you how to generate automated sales from Facebook.”

Again, see how that works? Paint a specific picture of a better life that the reader desires, then promise to help them achieve it.

You can try the even in short copy, for instance a page advertising a free report, a Facebook ad or product description on a web shop.

Or, even more powerfully, use it to open up a long copy sales email or landing page.

As always, let me know how it goes, and don’t hesitate to write in or leave a comment below.