If you’ve missed any of the previous parts of this series, start from part 1 and the following will make more sense. Here’s the link: https://scienceofcopywriting.com/copywriting/your-desire-is-our-purpose-copywriter-knowhow/
If I have a desire to get rich, then anything that connects with the getting and accumulation of wealth is something I’m going to be interested in. The same applies to any desire so let’s look at the desire that’s popped up a few times in this series – weight loss.
What’s the cause? It could be a number of things: health and vanity are two I can think of.
If we take one of those – health, then what brought that on? Perhaps we found ourselves short of breath one day and started to associate that with our weight. So what caused the shortage of breath?
Probably physical exercise (or even just a non-exercise thing such as climbing stairs or walking to the shops). And what caused that? Let’s take climbing the stairs:
One day, I went upstairs to get something, and I started to feel short of breath. Perhaps I also got rather hot, maybe even sweaty. I sat down to take a rest and started thinking about it.
My first thought might be “I didn’t use to feel like this. I know I’ve put on a few pounds over the years and needed to buy larger clothes, but is this really the cause?”. I might go and look it up online, and discover the truth, as we put on weight, it weighs down our bodies. All our organs have to work harder to keep our systems going, so it’s bound to take its toll.
As I’m reading, I learn about heart disease, veins, cholesterol, diabetes, blindness, and so on.
At that point, the desire to lose weight has begun. We might think that that desire was completely absent until this point, but the truth is it’s always been there as a survival mechanism waiting for us to take notice should we ever set it off.
But suppose that’s wrong. Perhaps this IS a desire out of thin air?
One day in my fifties I see a plane in the sky and make a decision to get a private pilot’s licence. To find out what caused that decision I’d ask the question: “when did I first hear about aircraft?”. As a kid. I was taken to an airshow, found it incredibly exciting and fell in love with planes on the spot.
So the desire was set as a kid. But again, seemingly out of thin air (can going to an event spark some new desire?). If you read the last paragraph again, you’ll find the trigger was excitement. If I’d found the airshow boring, I doubt any desire to become a pilot would ever have surfaced.
My initial desire was the desire to be excited (we can dig back into that too). Is the thought of becoming excited a desire? Yes. It’s what gets millions of kids to Disney and every other amusement park each year.
We know ‘excitement’ to be an emotion, a thing, something that HAPPENS to us. What we tend to forget, is that unlike other animals, we can REIMAGINE emotions once felt.
It’s that ability to imagine any positive emotion as something we could GET that turns it into a desire. It’s how we can go from the emotional desire for excitement to the physical desire of becoming a pilot.
And it’s how as copywriters, we can take people on journeys that start with some base emotional desire and convert it into some tangible concrete product.
Think about everything you ever bought and the journey you took to get it and you’ll uncover your own deep emotional needs (and a few wants) – all of which are desires.
Before I end, think about this: What’s the opposite of desire? Here are a few antonyms: disgust, dislike, distaste, hatred, abhorrence, aversion, loathing, repulsion. If some copy you write produced any of those emotions, what would be the consequence?
Next week is Negative Week, so we’ll go there for a change. Watch out for Monday’s installment.
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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