This week’s mini series covers the four cornerstones of epic copy starting today with Fear. What is it we never want to see, hear, taste, smell, or feel? (and that we’re prepared to go to any length to stop seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling).
The simple answer is anything that messes with our status quo. The complicated answer is anything that reminds us how bad things are (eg. how close we are to losing everything, bankruptcy or death).
There are two sides to this. The now and the future. Losing the things we have represents the now (losing a loved one, business, life), losing the things we don’t yet have but want are the future (health, wealth, relationships).
Fears based on now are usually fears of Loss. Fears based on the future are usually fears of missing out (FOMO).
Which is more important? Here’s the lead from a top UK insurance company:
“Life insurance helps give your family financial protection should you pass away within the policy term. It lets you leave a lump sum behind – helping your loved ones maintain their living standards or pay mortgage costs.”
The one verb that you’ll see repeated over and over is PROTECT. Making sure the status quo remains intact after we’re gone is the USP of the life insurance industry (see the PS).
But whilst protection is all about ensuring things go on even after our death, there’s a strong element of FOMO in the above example – eg. “what will your family do if you die and they miss out on a lump sum payment?”.
Selling life insurance is the toughest of all industries because taking it out is generally an unselfish act.
Car insurance is an interesting example because if we drove an old banger, it’s unlikely we’d bother insuring it (hence the law that forces all of us to insure our cars), whereas if we’ve just bought a supercar, insurance would be top of the list.
Selling something to people who don’t yet have that something will always do better when there’s an element of FOMO (because there’s nothing otherwise to lose). That is the lie of all FOMO sold products (ie. copy that uses FOMO because without it, it stands no chance of selling).
It’s embraced by internet marketers because it’s the one and only way to sell pretty much anything to anyone. It’s not just the fear of missing out on some product, it’s the fear of missing out on time too (eg. by the use of countdown timers).
That’s also used by mainstream businesses every time they have a Sale.
There are plenty more fears you can use in your copy. For example, the fear of rejection is huge when it comes to any products that involve relationships or relationship building (eg. for a dating product “imagine never feeling rejected again”).
PS. We often forget that it’s not just individual products and services that have USPs, it’s whole industries (or segments of industries). A USP is a differentiator, without which, everything appears the same. Some famous brands use their industry’s USP to differentiate themselves within the industry because no one else bothered to mention it (various companies in the beer brewing industry have done this more than once).
PPS. Click the link below for part 2, or subscribe to the Science of Copywriting Weekly Newsletter so you never miss out on any episodes: https://scienceofcopywriting.com/science-of-copywriting-weekly-newsletter/
I've spent my working life starting and running a whole variety of businesses, from my first QPL Express Couriers where I travelled over 100,000 miles every year delivering packages on a motorcycle (along with a whole bunch of colleagues) to Accountz.com which made a major in-road in the UK, to ProofMEDIA my current business that focuses on Copywriting and the International Copywriters Association, which helps copywriters learn more about copywriting and the copywriting industry around the world.
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