Emotional Appeal

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Back in the sixties Roy Garn wrote an eye-opening book called The Magic Power of Emotional Appeal. I doubt if it's still in print, but hunt down a copy. You'll learn a lot about how to write—or speak—in a way that captures people and makes them listen.

Garn's premise is that everyone—including you and me—is preoccupied. You have stuff on your mind. You're worried about money, work, your children, a new relationship, and the future. Or maybe you're thinking about sex, or a new movie you want to see, or a health problem. There's something on your mind right now, even as you read these words, that tugs at your attention. Right?

Our challenge as writers and speakers is to break people out of their preoccupation so they can hear what we have to say. If you don't shake your readers, they'll stay preoccupied and your writing will go into one ear and out the other—if it gets into an ear at all.

How do you break your reader's preoccupation?

A joke, a quote, a story, a statistic, a headline, a name—all of these can help awaken people so they will take in your message. But the hook has to be relevant. For example, I used a headline on my Thoughtline sales letter that spoke to the interests of the people getting it. Another tactic I could have used was to begin with a quote from a major league author (say Ray Bradbury or Stephen King) who uses the software. That would have gotten attention, too.

Another approach is to meet your readers right where they are preoccupied. For example, if you are contacting writers, one concern (or preoccupation) of writers is the need to be published. So speak to that need. Tell those writers you can help them get published, and you'll connect with their emotional preoccupation.

You have to ask yourself, "What does my reader care about?" and "What is on my reader's mind?" The people you are writing to probably have a common concern, problem, or complaint. Your letter should address that issue in a way that captures their attention.

Give this topic some deep thought. Emotions move people. Appeal to your reader's main concerns and you'll tap into their emotions with genuine appeal. And when you successfully do that, your writing becomes hypnotic!


What do your readers want? No doubt they want real solutions to real problems. They don't want features, they want benefits. What's the difference? A feature is saying the new car is blue; a benefit is saying the new car is blue because studies show blue cars are in less accidents and therefore are much safer. A feature states a fact. A benefit states why the fact is important to your reader.

Your readers want what all of us want: happiness, an easier life, security, entertainment. Can you give it to them?

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  • maci
    What does appeal your attention?
    8 years ago
  • eerik
    How to tap into emotional appeal with your reader?
    8 years ago

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