Copywriting Tip: Make Emotion Part of Your Promotion

Copywriting w/emotionA few years back, Ethan Boldt, editor of Inside Direct Mail at the time (now an Executive Director at Rodale Press), interviewed me & wrote an article entitled, “How to Make Emotion Part of Your Mailer.” This topic came up in a recent discussion so I thought it was worth sharing Ethan’s piece with you here. I think you’ll find these copywriting pointers beneficial when creating your next marketing promotion.

In an attempt to boost response, direct mailers often employ “bells and whistles” in their packages. The more common bells and whistles include freemiums such as stickers and note pads, as well as involvement devices like pURLs (personalized URLs) and Post-it notes. Perhaps the most important bell and whistle of all, however, is not physical in nature (or in the mailing). It’s emotion.

“The one bell and whistle I think is very important is emotion. If you ‘push the right buttons,’ you get your customers/prospects involved emotionally and that [can get] responses,” says Debra Jason, copywriter and owner of The Write Direction in Hanalei, Hawaii. Accordingly, here are three reasons why she says you may consider making emotion a bigger part of your package.

#1: Relate to the Prospect

Back in the late 1980s, Jason studied with well-regarded copywriter Milt Pierce, who instilled the idea in her that each package had to have an emotional component to be effective.

“I wrote a self-promotion letter which was okay (i.e., had the ‘right’ direct mail techniques), but when I rewrote it, it had more emotional appeal (i.e., had content others could relate to in their lives),” relates Jason, who gives the example of credit card companies offering zero percent interest APR. Rather than simply listing features, these companies could capture the audience’s attention by telling prospects how zero percent interest can be good for them.

#2: Do Your Homework

Jason’s mentor was the late Gene Schwartz, who taught her that the best thing to do was your ‘homework’—including researching the audience, the product, the likes/dislikes and public awareness.

“Knowing that helps you unleash those things that, again, push their buttons,” says Jason. For example, in an acquisition package for a cancer nonprofit, discuss how this disease intersects all of our lives rather than simply stating cancer statistics and the benefits of joining the nonprofit.

#3: Give the Prospect a Solution

According to Jason, more and more direct mail professionals are beginning to reiterate the value of emotion.

Prior to beginning a project, she always asks her clients about what things (i.e., problems, issues, concerns) their audience has that can be addressed in the mailing.

“Then, when writing the piece, we can raise their interest with emotion, but keep them involved by also letting them know that we have the solution,” explains Jason. In a subscriber package for a political magazine, for example, hot political issues can get the prospect’s attention in a hurry, but then it’s important to follow up with the idea that this magazine can help make sense of these issues.

What are you doing with your promotions? Are you raising eyebrows, pushing buttons, catching your audience’s attention and getting a response? Please share your comments below becuase I’d love to hear from you. Thanks and here’s to your sweet success.


  1. I have always thought to provide the solution for a prospect, it has worked well. But I am now going to think more on pushing the buttons. I have gotten into political talk with prospects, and when it seems we are agreeing on politics, well our relationship is a good one for a long time. But I have always tried to stay away from it in case, so now I got to think of ways to get to them better I believe. Thanks for sharing this. Oh, and I am a first time visitor too!
    Jaye Carden recently posted…How To Speak To More PeopleMy Profile

    • Hi Jaye, thanks for stopping by.
      Keep in mind that writing copy isn’t about “twisting people’s arms” to get them to believe in something they may not agree with. This is about determining a problem they may have, something that keeps them awake at night. Then, helping alleviate that problem(s) by providing them a viable solution you have that makes their lives easier.
      Debra Jason recently posted…Are You Building a Community?My Profile

  2. I’m so glad you brought this article out from the archive, Debra. Most definitely I keep analyzing what makes my audience tick, whether it is on social media or my newsletter because quite often, emotions are aroused by something that taps on the surface but has deeper roots and it provides a chance to give valuable content leading to real dialogue.

  3. hi,
    I am a java web developer from india with hands on exp on digital marketing.
    came here after seeing your amazon ebook millionare marketing on shoestring.
    buying it due to great reviews. this blog post is very concise and useful.
    vinodh recently posted…feed verifyMy Profile


  1. […] Put emotion into your copy.Think about what you’re offering and start from that place deep inside you that really wants to […]

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