Why Rampant Human Greed Should Make You Feel all Warm and Fuzzy Inside (If You Want to Make Mad Cash)
Machiavelli was right.
Gordon Gecko was right.
And… gasp… even the Government is right (about this… hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day).
People are Greedy. With a capital ‘G.’ I’m not talking strictly in the materialistic sense, though there’s plenty of that to go around. What I mean is people are “greedy” in the sense that they’re constantly preoccupied with what’s best for themselves. They’re the centers of their own little universes.
Wait a minute. Before you bite my head off. I’m not saying that people are always self-absorbed. Sometimes, a person’s sphere of concern will extend to his or her family, friends, and, once in a full moon, acquaintances. Every once in a while.
But, 99% of the time, people (including your hopeful customers) unintentionally “angle” in their interactions with others because they see them in terms of what those interactions can do for them. They can’t help it. They’re powerless against one of the most fundamental laws of human psychology: Self-Interest is King.
Now, Before You Write Me Off as Some Kind of Misanthrope, You Need to Understand That I’m Not Saying That People are “Bad!”
People are just… people. There’s good ones and bad ones (how’s that for insight, huh?) But this isn’t a lecture about morality. It’s about how you apply human psychology to pad your pockets, once you understand it.
O.K. Let’s get down to it. The first thing you need to do if you want to make a killing with your advertising is to recognize the reality of the situation. Maybe you wish things were different; that’s fine. But reality is this: your prospect’s self-interest is the trump card.
99.999% of all the marketers out there have…. drum rollllll…. LOST TOUCH WITH REALITY. They prop up their potential customers like saints. Why? Because it’s much easier for them to “dance around” this uncomfortable fact about human nature than acknowledge it.
Then they proceed to build up their potential customers in their minds as some type of infallible, alien beings. This line of thinking is the death knell to effective advertising because it forces you to “play it safe” and focus your sales message on dumb appeals like “honor, integrity, and unmatched quality.”
All the while ignoring the greatest cash source in the universe. Hmm…
Look, if you want to start making real money, you need to stop putting your customers up on a pedestal. Right now. Because you can’t use people’s self-absorbed nature to your advantage unless you first acknowledge it exists.
Are you willing to try? Good. Now that you know the lay of the battlefield, how do design your copy to punch so hard that it practically blows open wallets? It starts with this framework:
Every Timeless Sales Appeal Has One Common Element:
It Plays to the Prospect’s Self-Interest!
You don’t believe it? You’re going to make me work to prove my point?
Fair enough. Let’s take a gander at some of the classic sales appeals. I’ve included a short “sales pitch” illustrating each one:
- Appeal to the prospect’s vanity (“Get this Brazilian wax to look irresistible in your bikini!”)
- Appeal to the prospect’s desire to succeed financially (“Take my CPA course and you’re bound to increase your income!”)
- Appeal to the prospect’s ability to attract the opposite sex (“Wear this cologne and you’ll have to swat the ladies away from you like The Beatles!”)
- Appeal to the prospect’s health (“Try this whole foods diet and you’ll add 7 years to your life!”)
- Appeal to the prospect’s desire to fit in (“Buy this luxury car and you’ll fit right in at the country club!”)
- Appeal to the prospect’s legacy (“Donate to this charity so people will remember you and the lasting impact you made on this community!”)
Notice how beneath all of these classic sales angles, there’s the unspoken (but very real) assumption that your prospect’s concerns begin and in with:
“What’s in it for me?”
And one more thing. Did you notice how appeals like “quality product,” “honest customer service,” and “business with integrity” are strangely missing from the list?
Hmm. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Here’s the Key…
Timeless, Effective Advertising Appeals Make
The Potential Customer the “Center of the Universe” and
Only Talk About the Product or Service Being Offered
in Terms of How it Can Improve Their Lives!
“O.K., great,” you say. “Then how come I continue to see a slew of advertising that gets the equation all wrong?”
You guess is as good as mine, friend. I don’t know why almost everyone screws this up. But I do know how you can use this information to reframe your ads for more “walking around money.”
First, stop telling your prospects about how awesome you and your business are. Though I’m sure you are (I mean, you’re reading my stuff) and you’re fired up about your business, you’re better off blabbing about your prospect. The more painstaking detail you use to describe your prospect’s problem, the better. Seriously. People lap this stuff up.
Second, then, after you have them nodding their heads by describing their problem perfectly, you swoop in and tell them how your product or service can eliminate that problem and improve their lives.
Third, you couch your appeal – the “theme” of your ad – in terms of the prospect’s self-interest. You don’t have to beat them over the head with this (yelling “you’re greedy!” to your prospects might ruffle a few feathers…). But you do need to make sure it’s there for maximum persuasion. Even if it’s a subtle appeal to the prospect’s vanity or intelligence. And so on.
Fourth, test different appeals. An ad might bomb if you tailor it to appeal to someone’s vanity, but that same product will sizzle off the shelves if you reframe it as a way for the prospect to “fit in.” This stuff matters. Experiment with different appeals until you find the winner.
Fifth, if you get stuck along the way, ask yourself this hypothetical question and meditate on the answer:
Would a Kid be More Willing to Buy Those Tennis Shoes That You Can “Pump Up” if
You Went into Painstaking Detail About Your Shoemaking Experience,
How This Shoe Was Specially Made With State of the Art Technology, etc…
Or if You Just Showed Him His Favorite Pro Athlete Using Them to
Jump Higher and Dunk a Basketball?
That’s what I thought.
P.S. Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of this post. Why? It would warm my heart to hear from you. See, I am self-interested. Darn…
P.P.S. Here’s an educational picture so you know what I’m talking about in Step 5 if you weren’t a child (or parent) in the 1990s…