Why evoking emotion in advertising is a powerful copywriting technique

Did anyone else cry at the end of Toy Story 3?

Please don’t tell me I was alone! It’s true. This cartoon movie really did reduce me to tears. It was the bit when Andy handed his toys to Bonny. Watching him play with his childhood favourites for one last time was very moving.

That’s because captured within these brilliant scenes were memories of childhood, growing up and growing away. And as a mum of two under 5’s I was genuinely moved. It left me reflecting on my own past as well as anticipating that distant day when my own children flee the nest. The film held me captivated and my reaction lingered long after the credits rolled.

So what has this got to do with copywriting?

Actually quite a lot. Toy Story 3 draws such strong reactions because it evokes emotion. And if you can do that with your copy you’ll get significantly greater results.

You see we don’t often make buying decisions rationally. Think about the last big thing you brought and there’s a strong likelihood  your emotions played a role. Emotions evoke a physical reaction inside of you. Just recall that feeling of excitement, anticipation, desire etc. when a product or service really moves you. It’s true. If you can convince someone at an emotional level that they need your product or service, they are far more likely to be interested. Or even hooked. And in turn these people are more likely to buy.

Some companies are just brilliant at drawing on emotions. Take the Apple range. iMacs, iPads, iPhones, iPods etc. There are other similar products on the market. But I think Apple sits on top partly due to the emotion their products evokes. Take the  iPad. When I watch its advert I’m responding with words like “wow” and “cool”. The advert communicates effectively how the iPod could benefit my life and it leaves me thinking that I’d really like one. Rationally I know I don’t need one, but emotionally I’m left feeling my life would be better if there was one sat in my house. Now that’s powerful stuff. My emotions have been excited and this feeling lingers and is reinforced each time I see an advert for an Apple product.

What’s more Apple don’t tell you how to feel. Instead their adverts use images and words to subtly evoke emotion. This is much harder to achieve but way more effective.

Tracy Chapman said it beautifully.

“It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away…”

Whilst images are undoubtedly important, the right words put in the right place make all the difference when promoting your business. Get them right and you increase your chance of standing out against the competition. In comparison get them wrong and your customer will walk away.

So remember, when writing your copy, do factor in an intended emotional response. You’ve got to really understand your product / service benefits to do this because your copy must focus on these. Remember product features don’t play on emotions. Instead they talk to your rationality and are less effective at persuading customers. In comparison, if your advertising convinces me your product or service will make me richer, happier, prettier, wiser, cooler, more time free etc. I’m far more interested. And the result, just like the effect Apple products have on me is my emotions will say:

“I’ve just got to have one!”


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