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How to Write Hot-Button Sales Copy in a Recession

by Barry Densa  |  
October 19, 2011
  |  8,632 views

In this article, you'll learn...

  • 13 motivators that drive sales
  • 12 human desires marketers can appeal to

As you may have heard, 13 human motivators, or "hot buttons," are ultimately responsible for driving sales.

Employ any of them in your marketing campaigns with a deft artistic touch, and you'll easily take your customers to the precipice—the point at which they'll face an all-important and consequential decision: To buy, or not to buy.

If you use more than one or (at the most) two hot-button motivators in a single marketing campaign, you'll likely lose the sale. Just as a sentence should contain only one thought, lest it confuse and distract the reader, a sales promotion should appeal to one dominant motivator at a time.

So, which one or two motivators will work best in a recession? First, let's identify the 13 motivators.

1. Fear


Fear of lost opportunities or the loss of a possession (not to mention... some people just love being scared—else why Stephen King and Final Destination 5?).

2. Greed

The coveting of more... more... and more (and it's still never enough)!


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Barry A. Densa is a freelance marketing and sales copywriter at Writing With Personality. For more, visit his blog Marketing Wit & Wisdom.

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  • by Michelle Wed Oct 19, 2011 via web

    Barry does a great job here pinpointing the universal motivators and desires of the general public. I think it's important to be aware of all of them, how they move us to buy and how they are being used in the media.

    I encourage every business and organization to take the high road when selecting what motivator to use...Envy and Greed are not desireable qualities, so it's best we don't encourage or cater to them. We can serve our customers and our organizations well by providing the best and appealing to the best within them.

  • by SpencerBroome Thu Oct 20, 2011 via web

    Good sales copy/strategy doesn't know what is going on in the market. It can work in any time.

  • by Barry Densa Thu Oct 20, 2011 via web

    Thanks Michelle and Spencer.

    But I would argue that leveraging envy and greed is not exactly taking the low road, or the high road for that matter -- its just taking the road that gets you there

    While we as marketers have individual sensibilities -- it would not be wise to impose those on our customers.

    If our target market responds to envy or greed, it would be like cutting off our nose to spite our face to ignore it.

    Greed certainly is a prime motivator in investment promotions, along with fear, so info publishers in that space, for example, would be foolish not to use it. Investors and traders want to make money -- and make it fast -- and make a lot of it! That's why they invest and trade! Greed motivates them (along with other motivators, too, of course)

    As for envy -- keeping up with the Joneses is part of the American psyche. Half of what we buy, the half that is not essential, is bought because others have it too, and we feel less complete, less satisfied, less worthy, by not possessing it, too.

    These are over simplifications of course.

    Nevertheless, marketing is not about educating or reforming the world -- it's about giving the customer what they want -- and along with that they also want to be addressed in a language and a sentiment that they're familiar with and can appreciate -- a message that activates their emotions.

    If greed, envy, fear, or any other motivator is not something you as a marketer feels comfortable leveraging -- then you need to make sure that the niche you are in does not trade in it.

  • by Michelle Wed Nov 30, 2011 via web

    I'm surprised this article hasn't gotten more comments, but I'm glad to see it's being shared.

    I'm actually reviewing this piece as part of my preparation for a customer meeting today. The customer needs help coming up with a marketing strategy for a direct mail campaign.

    Thanks, Barry, for this great information. It is well presented and useful.

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