“I need help.”
The voice at the other end of the line was shaking.
“We’ve been posting on Twitter every day for six months, but we haven’t seen a single lead. Not one! I don’t see the point any more.
“Nothing else we’ve tried has worked either. But this business really needs to grow, or I’m going to have to fire people. And I just can’t face that!”
It was a difficult admission for this business owner – it’s possible it was the first time he had put his fear into words.
But it wasn’t the first time I’d heard something similar. I hear strong emotions almost every day from prospects enquiring about improving their online marketing.
Whenever I ask why they contacted us, they usually start by listing their technical requirements: “We need email marketing” or “Do you do LinkedIn?”
But probe just a little deeper, and it all comes spilling out. They’re fed up of pouring money down the drain, they are under pressure at home because their business is stuck, the fear that their business will fail has begun gnawing at them.
So much for the stiff upper lip! As far as I can see, nowadays English emotions hover rather closer to the surface.
As an online marketer, your big challenge is to tap into your prospects’ emotions.
When people buy, what they are feeling is often far more important than what they’re thinking. Their feelings are from the gut.
If you can draw out those profound emotions, you will connect to your audience at a deeper level, and be more likely to make a sale.
The problem is that getting into emotional territory feels unprofessional, particularly if you’re selling B2B. No one wants to look silly.
We’re also used to academic and corporate-style writing, and frankly have no idea how to inject emotion into our text. Where would you even begin!?
As a result, even companies that do try to write in a more emotional way tend to err on the side of caution. They throw in a line about how their audience is probably feeling (“If that scares you, it should…”), or a two-line anecdote about a customer who made a little mistake. But they’re not really digging deep. It’s token emotion!
I find that the best way to overcome that is to imagine I’m writing for the Daily Mail, with its in-your-face, none-too-subtle, screamy headlines (“Cher: Drugged and brainwashed!” “Exposed: Evil Plot to Kill Dying Diva.”)
I don’t end up sounding like that (hopefully) – it’s just a corrective. In an effort to sound like the Daily Mail, I probably end up sounding like the dowdier pages of The Times.
But deliberately exaggerating the emotion beyond your comfort zone is a useful technique for writing more powerful copy.
This week, take whatever marketing content your company produces. Then ham it up. Really exaggerate the emotion it expresses.
If, for example, you’re selling sofas, don’t ask, “Does your sofa need to be re-covered?” Ask, “Is your sofa looking old and tattered – the weak spot in a living room you’re otherwise proud of?”
Then go back to the beginning, and exaggerate some more. (“Do you throw a blanket over your sofa every time you have guests, because it looks so grimy? When people step into your living room, do you cringe in case they notice the state of your sofa?”)
Lose the stiff upper lip. Be a bit of a drama queen. It’s good for your copy, and it’s good for business.