Does Money Motivate: The Copywriting Edition

Recently, Ben Cook tweeted a link to an interesting infographic for employers. It posed the big question: Does money motivate?

Of course, I scream ‘hell no’ to myself.  Well, when you look at the infographic, it says money does motivate a certain percentage, but it also says achievement, the development of expertise, affiliation, security/stability, and freedom can be more effective.

What does this all have to do with copywriting and websites? Everything.

(Credit: caffeina)

Why Money Isn’t the Greatest Motivator

The problem is, people don’t really want money. Seriously. They don’t. I mean, who would? It’s a pain to keep organized and budgeted, it goes out faster than it comes in, it’s dirty, and I haven’t even mentioned the high divorce rate it causes. Nope, money isn’t what we’re after.

People want all the things money can give them. Ultimately, this is rarely material things. Aside from our main needs, we often purchase items for much deeper reasons.

When people buy your amazing new ebook or services, they didn’t buy it just because you had an amazing sale. They don’t wander the Web looking for sites that say ‘$50 off’ and buy whatever it is, even if it is a pocket fisherman that matches the singing fish they’ve already got on the wall. Ok, well, most people won’t.

The truth is the visitors to the page were already somewhat interested in what you have to offer. The discount or giveaway was just the tipping point for them, and if you hope to convince them to buy, you’d better make sure they want what you’re selling bad enough to care what the perks are. Only then will they be worried about buying from you over a competitor or the specifics of the sale.

Emotional Needs as Sales Triggers

(Credit: Little_Ricky)

Finding the Main Sales Motivators

Every product and target audience will have its own unique set of motivators, so it’s up to you to find them.  However, I can guarantee you that, aside from basic physical needs, all emotional motivators you come across will somehow satisfy a basic emotional need we all seek to satisfy:

  • Security
  • Attention
  • Autonomy and Control
  • Emotional Connections
  • Community Membership
  • Friendship, Intimacy, Acceptance, Comfort
  • Privacy
  • Status
  • Competence, Skill Acquisition, Achievement
  • Meaning and Purpose

Make sure you satisfy the right one of these needs, and I promise you’ll hit a home run every time.

Balance Solutions, Hooks and Perks

I’m not going to slap your hands for using company or product-focused content. We’re all professionals here. I’m also not going to preach the whole ‘benefits instead of features’ concept. It has been positively beaten to death and hasn’t gotten us anywhere, except to give me a migraine on the right side of my brain. Instead, I’m going to tell you to satisfy those emotional needs we talked about by examining the reasons for the purchase.

If you and I were selling a book on how divorcees can get back into the dating scene, our copy wouldn’t start off by talking about how the book would fix the reader. These people aren’t looking to improve themselves. They’re lonely. They want someone they can connect and share their lives with.

People interested in our book would want to forget about all their faults, issues, and past relationships. They’re uncomfortable about getting back into the saddle, so to speak (let’s keep it clean!), and feel genuinely lost. They’re getting desperate. We’d mention these things, sympathize with them, and make sure they knew we understood where they’re at and where they’d like to be after reading the book.

Once they’re sucked in, THEN we’d start talking about how much more comfortable, confident, and successful they’ll be in their hunt.

Choose the Right Perk and Test, Test, Test!

At this point, test the copy. Test it again, and again. See how well it converts and watch your analytics to see where people are coming from and where they’re falling off. Then, if you find you need to, find an appropriate perk to help push more people over the edge to buy.

In the dating book example, a discount may not be my first choice simply because discounts lower the perceived value of the product. Instead, I’d be more inclined to include free flowers, chocolates, or maybe even another book on a similar topic, like ‘The Perfect Mate Checklist’, ‘Setting Up the Perfect First Date’, or something equally clever.

Once you separate your copy into the hook, sell, and perk phases, you should be able to tell where your copy is falling short and where you’re failing to meet those emotional needs. It’s really that simple. Composing each of those sections perfectly? Ah, my friends, that’s where the tough part comes in, but I’m sure you can handle it!

About Angie Nikoleychuk

Angie Nikoleychuk is a copywriter, consultant, and strategist at Angie’s Copywriting. She has an unbridled passion for search, marketing, business, branding, and all things Internet, which she uses to take copywriting to a whole new level. When not talking copy, you can usually find her satisfying her information addiction or chatting on Twitter.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JadedTLC, Angie Nikoleychuk, Andrew Bleakley, Joshua Titsworth, Wisdom for the Ages and others. Wisdom for the Ages said: Does Money Motivate? The Copywriting Edition by @AngsCopywriting on SearchMarketingWisdom […]

  2. Angie

    I like where you said “The discount or giveaway was just the tipping point for them, and if you hope to convince them to buy, you’d better make sure they want what you’re selling bad enough to care what the perks are. ”

    you’d better make sure they want what you’re selling… It’s too easy to think a promotion, contest or whatever other special deal you offer one time is enough. I can think of plenty of such deals I’ve jumped on using a throwaway email and never returned to the site in question.

    I’ve seen it already in the contest we’re running here. Probably 20% of the entries were tweets from throw-away twitter accounts already.

    Fortunately, I know for a fact that we’ve picked up a lot of great people as readers and fans, and have already seen some great comments from a number of them – not just on the contest post.

    The more I can connect with the people I’m trying to reach, the richer the experience for everyone. And it’s those people I need to give value to in whatever I’m offering if I ever hop to have that experience.

    • Hi Alan

      I fully agree, which is why I have such an issue with contests like ‘tweet this hashtag’ contests. There’s just not enough value in them to make them worthwhile, in my opinion. With your competition, each of the four options to enter provided you with some type of long term payoff, and as you said, you attracted a lot of great readers. That’s what matters. It was far easier to do it this way than to attempt to attract those readers one by one.

      At the same time, had you of not offered solid value here, none of the readers, followers, subscribers, or others you attracted would stay, so YAY for you! The planning and insight really pays off for those who take the time to think it through.

  3. I think this video is a good addition to this article:
    Though it really is focused on what motivates employees.

    • Thanks for the link Johannes. That’s an excellent link full of tips. (When you’re attempting to motivate employees, you’re selling them on a concept, but you’re selling to them all the same. In my opinion, they work regardless of who or what you’re selling to because we’re all human.)

  4. Angie, better late than never and what a gem of insight!

    People search the Internet to meet a need or to be entertained, if you had to break it down to simplistic motives. Your main sales motivators fit right in line.

    Thanks for the reminder to test messaging. Then our decisions can be based on the data.

    Appreciate your insights!

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