Pain or Pleasure in Copy: What Works Best?

Pain or Pleasure in Copy: What Works Best?

Think about a time you made a major change in your life.

Maybe it was switching jobs. 

Or moving far from a familiar location. 

Or getting out of an unhealthy relationship.

What’s the common denominator? 

Each change or decision is an effort to either avoid pain or gain pleasure.

Or both. 

People change jobs, for example, because their current one is not making them feel good for whatever reason. Or they believe a change will bring them more pleasure.

Whether you were at a job you hated, were tired of the high cost of living at your current location, or became sick of arguing with your partner every day, you were motivated to make a change.

And it’s not always easy. 

In fact, often the pain gets a lot worse before the next situation becomes pleasurable.

But in the long run, you’re (hopefully) happier.

And that’s what makes the transition worthwhile.

On a smaller scale, the same goes for attracting people to sign up for your webinar, buy your product, or otherwise take you up on your offer.

Something’s going on that makes them uncomfortable enough to take action.

If you’re a coach, maybe you hire a copywriter because you’re tired of trying to do it all yourself. 

So you invest in someone who can help.

If you’re tired of lugging around extra weight, you may sign up for a home gym or sign up with a personal trainer.

It’s part of the process in many copywriting formulas, including the most basic one:

PAS – problem – agitation – solution

I had a big debate with my copywriting peers recently on whether or not pain needed to be in the equation for someone to respond.

Research shows both could work depending on… guess what?

Yup. Your audience.

Here’s a direct quote from the study: 

“… framing messages differently to appeal to different mindsets can be very effective: the same multivitamin, for instance, can be framed as powering a healthy lifestyle to active people looking to get enough nutrients or as protecting against illness to people worried about their health.”

In other words, if you fear coming down with an illness due to a vitamin deficiency, a fear factor may appeal to your emotions.

Or if you’re an athlete looking for an edge to help you with your training, the preventive approach may work better for you. 

In the end, it’s all about testing different messages and seeing what performs better.

The easiest way? 

Try various subject lines and headlines with your readers.

For example:

If you sell a coaching, email subject lines to try may be:

  • X Ways to [positive outcome, re: Nail Every Job Interview] 
  • X Tips to ensure you’re at the top of the candidate list

A negative version could be:

  • Are your interview responses costing you your dream job?
  • Are you making these X interview mistakes?Which approach works best for you? Try each way and track results. It’s as simple as that.

Other posts you may enjoy:

How to Write Emails that Engage Like Gangbusters

5 Writing Tips to Instantly Improve Your Copy

How to Use Future Pacing in Your Copy to Inspire Action





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