Harnessing Human Nature To Improve Sales

Some things never change. Human nature is one of them. If you had a time machine and could go back to the ancient Babylonians, people for the most part would be the same. Similar ambitions, goals and ideals.

Yeah, apart from the severe lack of barista quality coffee and high speed internet, marketing to ancient Babylonians would be identical to marketing to people who live in Iraq today.

Drew Whitman in his fantastic book Ca$hvertising came up with the Life Force 8: powerful desires innate in all human beings. Basically why people buy products and services.

They are:

  1. Survival, enjoyment of life and life extension.
  2. Enjoyment of food and beverages.
  3. Freedom from fear, pain and danger.
  4. Sexual companionship.
  5. Comfortable living conditions.
  6. To be superior/winning, keeping up with the jones’s.
  7. Care and protection of loved ones.
  8. Social approval.

These things are hard wired into the human brain. Nothing short of a lobotomy can help you from wanting what’s on this list. These 8 powerful desires make every single market on the planet tick and if you’re not tapping into them then you’re losing money. Simple as.

The two strongest appeals are Sex and Self-improvement. This is reflected in the big 3: health, wealth and relationships. Nearly everything comes under one of these umbrellas. Everybody wants to be healthy, have money and have good relationships. I bet the Romans did and I bet the Aztecs did too.

Emotion vs Logic

The driving force behind making a purchase as you probably know is emotion. Not logic. Forcing an emotional response is infinitely more powerful than listing information.

For example, if I was an insurance company providing theft cover to local businesses, I wouldn’t be talking about how many businesses you cover or how long you’ve been in business, I’d be talking about what could happen if you didn’t have insurance.

“Not having insurance in this day and age, with crime sky rocketing, can have devastating effects on your business and family. Losing expensive tools and equipment can put you out of work for extended periods of time. This means missed mortgage, car and bill payments. Not to mention if you’re not insured, you will have to replace what was stolen. You may not be able to afford this and you may have to close or sell your business. Imagine, years and years of hard work and graft gone. Losing your car and home becomes a reality…”

This was just a hastily written example but you get the picture. By getting the prospect to imagine themselves losing their business and home, you’re tapping into the Life Force 8. The more on the list you can tap into, the more persuasive the copy will be.

Focusing on the negative and fears is extremely powerful when trying to persuade someone. Yes, you can focus on positive emotions, but fear is a much more powerful motivator.

By building fear, worry and anxiety then positioning your product or service as the solution is AAA marketing. It’s also ethical and the right thing to do. Solving people’s problems is money in your pocket and peace of mind for them. The key though is not to create new fears; you just want to tap into existing ones. You don’t want your prospect to be a nervous wreck like they’re reading a Bram Stoker novel.

That’s not to say making people feel good isn’t top tier marketing, it is. But usually people go greater lengths to avoid negative emotions than they do to feel good emotions.


Men and Women

Men and women are different. Venus and Mars. Adam and Eve. We have different natures. As a marketer and student of psychology it’s important to know the desires and fears of each sex. By knowing these, you can craft persuasive copy that taps into the Life Force 8 and make your product or service irresistible.

For example, most men desire:

  • Be more muscular.
  • Have more money.
  • Have more freedom.
  • Have more sex.
  • Get respect.

And most men fear:

  • Looking weak.
  • Not supporting family.
  • Chained to desk job.

So if your product or service can fulfil these desires or remedy these fears then you should damn well capitalise on it.

Women on the other hand desire:

  • Look more attractive.
  • Be thinner or more toned.
  • Have children.
  • Protect children.
  • Fit in socially.

And women fear:

  • Looking ugly.
  • Being uglier than friends.
  • Being fat.
  • Losing a child.
  • Not finding “the one”.

These lists aren’t exhaustive by any means. Just a few examples.

Depending on who your primary target market is, then you’d tailor the copy to them. Get in their world. Live and breathe as they do. Know their fears and desires. Talk about their fears and desires. Then pounce like a crouching Tiger with your product or service. Help them achieve their desires or remedy their fears.

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