Peel away the business suits, the carefully constructed personae, the intellectual chitin with which most people protect themselves from the truth, and you’re left with humanity in the raw. And it turns out we’re all sinners! So why not exploit the worst in human nature to achieve your goals?
Let’s remind ourselves of the seven deadly sins and then look at how we might use them in our communications.
- PRIDE – (also known as vanity) – A simple way to make your reader believe you is to flatter them. Tell them how important and busy they are. Acknowledge their huge knowledge and experience. They won’t gainsay any of it. Then suggest that someone with their obvious talent for making the right decision really ought to be subscribing/buying/going along with your suggestion.
- ENVY – Make them aware that other people already have the thing you’re selling and are benefiting hugely as a result. Nobody likes to miss out and if they feel that the people with whom they identify are all having a great time enjoying product X, they’ll want to join the party.
- GLUTTONY – Why do people eat more than they need? Maybe they like the taste. Or the sensation. Maybe they’re in need of comfort. Or solace. Unless you’re selling food or promoting a restaurant, this sin won’t have much relevance for you. BUT…if your product makes people feel happy and contented when they ‘consume’ it, you have a real selling point.
- LUST – A little harder, this one. But if you can suggest that becoming a customer of yours will satisfy this particular little craving, you’re on to a winner! (I’d also suggest that you’re wasted as a marketeer and should be on talk shows.)
- ANGER – People get angry about all sorts of things. I have a beef with my ISP at the moment that’s making my teeth grind like a pepper mill. Give people an exit route from this unpleasant emotion and they will thank you. If you know that your main competitor is making their customers angry (poor service or product quality for example, or excessive price rises), you have some great leverage to capture market share.
- GREED – A major motivator for sales people through the ages. People sometimes want stuff they don’t need. People often want more of what they’ve already got. Especially profits, pay, respect, office space, bottles of wine, pens, calculators, holidays, cars and clothes. Promise your customers MORE and you’ll have their ear.
- SLOTH – People are lazy. So show them how your product or service can save them energy. Perhaps they can sit at their desk and have stuff emailed straight to their desktop. Maybe you’ll deliver something direct to their door instead of their having to walk to the shops. Help them avoid work and they’ll open their wallets.
And my point is?
Whether you are selling to consumers or people at work, ignore the baser human emotions at your peril.
Yes, people will want to RATIONALISE their decisions, so make sure you provide plenty of objective reasons why buying your products is a sensible thing to do. But make sure you hit at least one of the deadly sin buttons in your sales pitch.
(By the way, only a beginner would actually tell their reader that they were lazy, lustful or greedy: BE SUBTLE!)