Nuff' to give ya a headache.
I've spent 15 years in sales and marketing, working as a business coach, addiction counselor and I studied psychology in college. I've found that persuasion boils down to one simple question:
1) What motivated people's actions?
It's human need. People invest their time, money, energy and belief into things that will meet their physical needs and their emotional needs. The emotional needs are the driving force behind persuasion:
1) Validation: the need for respect, acceptance and a sense of control.
2) Excitement: the need for variety and adventure.
3) Security: the need for comfort and certainty.
4) Transcendence*: the need for purpose and meaning.
*Some people regard this as a spiritual need, which I agree with.
This video talks about the role of human needs in copywriting
The video also talks about "joining the conversation in the customer's mind." People are more easily persuaded when they believe the idea was theirs in the first place. But if your goal is to persuade, you have to join the conversation on a logical AND emotional level. So what's the driving force behind that conversation?
What's keeping them awake at night? What's scratching and clawing at the cracks and crevasses of their subconscious minds?
It's the need(s) behind their desire or their problem. People will only buy your product or service to get something they want or to solve a problem...or both. BOTH of these motivations are driven by one of the basic needs.
If it's a problem that's driving your customer's buying desire, I bet you a dollar that problem is keeping them from having one of their needs met. If it's something they want, they want it because it will meet one of the four needs.
So what's the practical application?
When I start writing a sales page, here's the first thing I find out:
1) What problem will your product or service solve?
2) Is this problem causing them to feel insignificant (need for validation), bored (need for excitement), security (uncertain or uncomfortable) or like their life lacks purpose (need for transcendence)?
3) How will YOUR product or service address this problem and relieve the discomfort caused by the need not being met?
In NLP (which does include a few snippets of good psychology), they talk about "towards" people and "away from" people. A towards person is motivated by what they have to gain something they want. The away person is more motivated by the desire to move away from something they don't want.
If you're dealing with an "away" person, the above 3 questions will be the most important. Once you know the answers, those handy headline formulas you see in copywriting books start to become useful. You just fill in the blanks with what you discovered during your questioning:
How to Stop (problem) and Never (Emotional pain) Again
If your target market is mostly "towards" people, the approach is only slightly different:
1) What does your customer really want?
2) Which of the four needs will be fulfilled by them gaining this?
3) How will your product or service make that happen?
Once again, you use the results of the discovery questions to bring the already existing templates to life:
How to (what they want) and (Emotional experience) Again
Of course, it'd be wonky to say:
How to Stop Prostrate Pain and Feel Validation About Your Sexual Performance Again
But there ARE key words that suggestion the underlying need OR the opposite of the need:
The Need for Validation
See if you can separate the validation words from the anti-Validation words:
Powerful, take charge, make jealous, dominate, command respect, accepted, be a part of, join, overcome, beat, believe in yourself, powerless, jealous, laughed at, insignificant, like a nobody, taken advantage of, door matted, rejected/rejected, walked on, overpowered, bullied.
The Need for Excitement
See if you can separate the excitement words from the anti-excitement words:
Discovery, New, Renew, Fresh, Easy, Simple, Health, Energize, Healthy,
Excitement, Enjoy, Secret, Hidden, Revealed, Single, Brink,
Breakthrough, Shatter, Vision, Dream, Imagine, Opportunity, Soar,
Longing, Desire, Revolution, Stale, Flat, Boring, Trudging, Dragging,
Routine, Tedious, Free, Money, Sexy, Love, energize, boost, refresh, revitalize, banned, illegal, secret, taboo, covert, hidden, exposed, undercover.
The Need for Security
See if you can separate the security words from the anti-security words:
Save, Safe, Secure, Free, Proof, Proven, Tested, Results, Risk Free,
Unconditional, Guarantee, Survive, Protect, Epidemic, Slave, Enslave,
Weight, Burden, Stranglehold, Crush, Suffocating, Dread, Risky,
Devastate, Fear, Terror.
The Need for Transcendence
Easy, not giving away ALL my secrets
Of course, there's are a TON of tools in the copywriters toolbox: anchors, metaphors, building value by expansion, reducing price resistance by expansion, character, presence, context, rhythm, color, synthetic experience, social proof, pressure, urgency.
But ALL those techniques have to be under girded by the primary emotional need behind the customer's problem AND/OR the thing they hope to gain. The desire for sex, money, fame, fortune, power, a great body...all of them can be narrowed down to one of the primary needs.
Did I forget any motivators in this ^ list?
If so, I bet you can identify the need behind it. Once you start looking at the world this way, you'll understand people's motivations better than THEY do. It'll work wonders in your copywriting and your marketing.
It has for me.