Emotional Benefits: Are You Using Them Enough?

Emotional Benefits: Are You Using Them Enough?

This post isn’t about how the education system is broken, or that students are bored stiff, or how it doesn’t respond to varying intellectual needs. This post is about why you need to use clear, tangible, emotional benefits to get your consumer to buy, join in, sign up or attend.

Because if you can’t present people with good reason to do what you want them to do, they simply won’t.

And so, the story begins.

You may be aware that I have two daughters, one of whom has just turned 17. (The other one is 5.) My teen is graduating high school in June, and she’ll be attending CEGEP (the sort-of-not-really-but-close-enough Quebec equivalent of college) in the fall to study business translation (German, Chinese, Spanish, French and English).

You may not be aware that my teen rarely attends class. She barely goes to school. She’s missed 58 classes in the past 90-day term.

There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s not sick or disabled or challenged or injured or handicapped or diseased. She doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t stay out late, doesn’t party, and doesn’t have a boyfriend. She’s clean, neat, polite, well mannered and well dressed. Oh, and smart.

Which is the reason, actually, that my teen doesn’t go to school.

“Why should I?” She points to her report card. ” 85s. I’m not failing anything. My marks are well above average on almost every class. I’m graduating. And I’m not even in school. Besides, it’s stupid. It’s so boring. I mean, come on.” She rolls her eyes. “I don’t even go to school and I’m still passing. When someone can give me a good reason why I should go, then I’ll go.”

Of course, nobody can. “Because you’re supposed to,” sounds useless, empty, and moralistic. The school administration and guidance counsellors have tried everything. They’ve begged, pleaded, punished, rewarded, argued… They simply can’t find a good argument to convince my teen to drag herself out of bed early in the morning to catch a bus and spend the day in a boring place that she doesn’t like for no particular benefits she can see.

And not going to school is giving her more benefits than actually attending.

This is marketing gone all wrong.

The situation with my teen is a perfect analogy on what not to do when you’re in business. She’s a consumer. Class is the product. The school is the business trying to sell the product to the consumer. And there are no clear, tangible benefits present to sell that product effectively.

That means if anyone want sales (in that my teen decides to buy into going to school), the consumer needs to be convinced with clear benefits presented in a compelling way that hits right where it counts, in a way that shows what’s in it for that person, and why the consumer should buy in.

So what does a compelling, clear benefit look like? Let’s use my teen as an example and see what we can come up with.

First, the given: If my teen attends class, she’ll increase her knowledge. Boring. That’s just a false benefit. It’s not really a benefit at all. You have to move past this hollow benefit and figure out why this matters. To do so, ask yourself, “So what?”

So what if my teen increases her knowledge? Well, she’ll have better chances of college acceptance, more employment potential, and probably better wages than others.

But even those aren’t really strong benefits. They’re not compelling. They’re kind of a given. They don’t stir anyone emotionally to get them leaping out of bed. Look at my teen: She knows that she’ll have better chances, jobs and pay rates, but she still isn’t convinced high school is worth bothering with.

You have to look for real benefits, the ones that pique someone’s attention. A benefit could be that if my teen goes to class, she’ll not only get accepted at CEGEP, but she might even gain entry to the elite private college offering top-of-the-line education and job opportunities around the globe.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

And let’s say that if she does get accepted at that elite facility, they practically guaranteed a high-level job position on graduation, and in any country my teen feels like living in. Nice. That means my teen could pretty much live in the lap of luxury every single day of her life. Just because she went to class in high school.

More compelling already, n’est pas?

Real benefits could be something much more simple – but no less desirable. When you start tapping into desires and emotions, moods and feelings, you can find all kinds of ways to motivate people to buy. For example, a benefit for my teen attending class every day could be that she gets a summer job paying $15 an hour versus those her friends get at just $10 an hour and because of that, she looks like a rockstar when she takes her gang out for a pizza celebration at the end of the summer.

That rockstar feeling? That’s one hell of an emotional benefit. Allow me to demonstrate in a fictitious piece of sales copy targeting my teen:

“Dearest daughter of mine,

Imagine it’s the end of summer and the last day of work. You and your friends wanted to have one kick-ass celebration before you all parted ways for CEGEP this fall, but they’ve just called up and can’t afford to go out. They’re broke. They didn’t get the great job you did this summer, and they had to put every penny they earned towards saving for the coming school year.

And they’re way disappointed. It was their last chance to be together, their last summer celebration, and they’d really wanted to end it with a bang.

But they can’t. They’re strapped for cash.

Imagine their reaction when you say, “Come on, let’s hit up Roxy’s Pizza – my treat.”

It’ll be amazing. You’ll be the hero! They’ll cheer, and Donovan will grab you in one of those great big hugs you love, and Sarah will squeal and say you’re the best friend ever, and then you’ll all pile into Dave’s Jeep and ride out together to enjoy the most fantastic night of the summer.

All because of you.

You went to class, and someone found out what a great student you were. How concientious you were about showing up every day. How reliable and dependable you could be. You got the best job that summer, the one that paid more than any other.

And because you did that, because you bought into going to class, you get to be the one that makes everyone’s dream party come true.

P.S. As an added bonus incentive, if you attend every class until school ends, I’ll pitch in $100 just to make your celebration truly epic – they’ll never forget it. Or you.

Hugs and kisses,

Your doting parent”

My teen would be pretty hard pressed not to want that. Are you kidding me? That’s one emotionally-packed offer right there, with clear benefits – attention, affection, praise, bonus cash, Donovan’s arm around her… My teen wouldn’t be able to think of arguments to knock that down.

Nor would she want to.

If your web copy is putting your visitors to sleep, contact us today. We'll pack your web copy full of emotions that get them jumping out of bed and practically throwing their money at you.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Ha! She sounds just like me when I was a teen. What happened when I moved on to further (non-mandatory) education? I dropped out, because the classes were too easy and and I didn´t see the point in going, my attendance ended far below what was allowed. I didn´t even care. Not really.

    I had no real motivation. I didn´t know what I wanted to do with my education. It seemed like a four year road to nowhere. A few years later I found my motivation and here I am, back in school and showing up in every class ;)

    I think you´re spot on. Everybody needs a real reason for decisions, especially ones on (long term) commitment. We need to feel like there´s a point to it. Not just something practical but something true.

    Great post as always, James.
    .-= Þórey Ómars´s last blog ..The Dreamweaver =-.

  2. Another great post James.

    I did graduate from high school, but I didn’t give it everything I could. Now that I am older and wiser (sometimes), I wish I would have done more with my studies and attendance. Also, now that I am older, I wish I understand and wish I would have listened more to my parents…but we all know how teenagers know everything in the world, right?

    It’s true that emotional benefits will sell to your customer and when that right button is hit, the sales will come rolling in. Without the benefits, you’re just another person blowing your product’s message into the wind and hoping someone will buy it – t’s the “what’s in it for me” syndrome.

    Thanks again for another great post.
    .-= George Passwater´s last blog ..Do You Know This Secret Ingredient to Better Writing? =-.

  3. I’d really be interested to hear your daughter’s reaction to your solution and motivation.

  4. @Veronique – Myself as well. The only problem is that we’re now May, she’s graduating in three weeks and she already has her city apartment for the fall. Her motivation/pain point is currently sitting right at “let’s get out of here!”

    @George – A lot of my clients think I’m being a bit hard on them when I ask, “Alright, so your client comes to your business and thinks, ‘so what’? What are you going to tell them?” but it’s the crucial key to bringing in sales.

    As for listening to parents, mine learned this weekend that a wise parent can actually prevent theft. Ahh, if only she’d paid attention BEFORE she had her purse stolen…

    @Thorey – Sounds like your motivation at the time – and now – wasn’t/isn’t about finishing school. Hmmm… makes me wonder what’s making you tick :)

  5. Great story, James. At least she’s doing well in school. Some kids do that and don’t do good in school.

    Not sure how the school system works there in Quebec, but here in Vegas if a student never goes to school (or misses specific classes), they get booted out… something like if they miss 12 days or more, they get suspended and you will end up failing the class if you miss too many days.

    Looking at it that way, Fear, would be the motivation to buy.

    Fear is another great emotional motivator (as you and I have discussed before).

    What would happen if she got kicked out of school?

    No moving to a different city.
    No college
    Repeat school
    etc.
    .-= John Hoff – WP Blog Host´s last blog ..Should I Install My Blog In Root, a Subdirectory, or Subdomain? =-.

  6. She sounds like me NOW.

    Work is the product. I’m the consumer. I’m not buying. Or attending. Ever again.

    LK

  7. I’ve had that problem myself – I was acing the material and being in class, where there was one student who dragged us back to the beginning material constantly bored me silly. If someone had challenged me, had shown that there was a benefit to attending, they’d have gotten results – as you say, the marketing works.

    It’s great to see that that your daughter has an idea of what she wants to do. I’m just finally getting the courage to do what I wanted to do with my life. Oh to be 18 again (with the knowledge I have now)!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Its Been Quiet =-.

  8. Great story and smart kid – I’d be hard pushed to convince her to go to school as I did the same thing when I was at college. Report cards were terrible for attendence but that’s all they could fault. I wasn’t lazy either I was working my butt off home where it was quiet and I could concentrate.

    Hats off to your teen for questioning the way things are done automatically.

    With the motivating benefits, like John says, how do you figure out if your customers (teen) feels compelled to act because of pleasure (saving the day) or pain (fear of not getting into college etc). Or can you combine the two?
    .-= Amy Harrison´s last blog ..What Can You Actually Change? =-.

  9. @Amy – Oh, to be 18 again, and have my parents’ financial backup… *cries*

    @Leonard – You’ll have to hire some people to feed you grapes on the sofa – be sure you can tell THEM the benefits of helping you not work ;)

    @John – I’m not sure of the system myself – I think her marks may have helped avert too much bad stuff. But she did get suspended (which made her laugh – she can’t go to school because she doesn’t go to school?), got detention (ahh, a free hour of philosophizing about life instead of sitting in class, and got yanked down to the office several times (where they asked her if she was cutting, taking drugs or having guy trouble – no, no, and no.)

    And yeah. I really do count myself lucky, because I see so many kids doing… well, not as well as she is. Or with as much confidence. Kind of sad.

  10. @Amy Number Two – Oooh, good question! *gets all excited* I’ll have to write a blog post on that!! (Or have more coffee so I can answer you a bit in here later on!)

  11. James, I’ve outsourced that grape feeding work.

    And I do have a man crush on you. Wait, would that be right? Well, never mind. You understand.

    LK

  12. @Leonard – Around here, we tend to be pretty flexible about that kind of thing, lol

  13. My son, who will turn 30 in August, is now a teacher. While in college his motto was, “D’s get degrees.” School cramped his social life, and cut into his hockey habit. Now, he’s getting his Master’s Degree. Who knew?

    Spend 19 minutes with Sir Ken Robinson. It’s the best presentation on the planet about schools:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

  14. But what happens if she decides that going to classes at CEGEP is boring?
    .-= Mark Dykeman´s last blog ..I do my best work at the kitchen table =-.

  15. @Mark – As long as she brings in top marks and passing grades, she can decide it’s as boring as watching molasses in January.

    @Randy – I actually nodded at your son’s example. Like many of us who half-assed our way through school back then, we all see the value of it now – but I wonder. Do we appreciate it because we’ve learned how to make it interesting to us, or because we can choose to work on what interests us most?

    There’s a hockey school near here – I wonder if those guys get bored and want to skip class to go read textbooks ;)

  16. James, my son has killer social skills, and always has. My wife and I recognized early that he had street smarts, so we never worried much about it. He was a solid C student through most of school, but everybody who knew him (including his teachers) knew those grades weren’t indicative of his intelligence. He was restless and bored with school. He was always drawn to personal interactions (and hockey).

    He found his passion oddly enough in the classroom not as a student, but as a leader. He doesn’t just teach – he engages. *to use a popular term*

    He works in a lower income school where many of the kids have parents who are uninterested in their child’s future. The other day he told me his goal for the students is not necessarily college (that’s not likely for many of these kids) – it’s high school graduation. Sadly, many of these kids have nobody who expects anything of them. *See Tom Rath’s book, Vital Friends*

    The kid who often drove my wife and I crazy because school seemed so unimportant is now among the people I’m most proud of. He’s making a positive difference. By the way, he’s getting his Master’s Degree because he hopes to one day become a middle school principal. You just never know…he blogs (rarely) at http://ryancantrell.net/

  17. James, my son has killer social skills, and always has. My wife and I recognized early that he had street smarts, so we never worried much about it. He was a solid C student through most of school, but everybody who knew him (including his teachers) knew those grades weren’t indicative of his intelligence. He was restless and bored with school. He was always drawn to personal interactions (and hockey).

    He found his passion oddly enough in the classroom not as a student, but as a leader. He doesn’t just teach – he engages. *to use a popular term*

    He works in a lower income school where many of the kids have parents who are uninterested in their child’s future. The other day he told me his goal for the students is not necessarily college (that’s not likely for many of these kids) – it’s high school graduation. Sadly, many of these kids have nobody who expects anything of them. *See Tom Rath’s book, Vital Friends*

    The kid who often drove my wife and I crazy because school seemed so unimportant is now among the people I’m most proud of. He’s making a positive difference. By the way, he’s getting his Master’s Degree because he hopes to one day become a middle school principal. You just never know.

  18. I was ridiculously good about attendance in high school. I don’t quite know what I was thinking.
    .-= –Deb´s last blog ..Page-a-Day Update =-.

  19. I left CEGEP because I could not stand sitting in another class with a teacher that bored me to death. I suppose I am a success depending on how you choose to measure that term. I took risks in life. Some of those risks made life really tough. But in the end I learnt more about what I REALLY wanted in life and about letting go of fear. An emotional journey and one I should write more about. Thank you for this story.

  20. You told a story- you engaged my emotions- I finished the article. Nice job.
    .-= ridgely johnson´s last blog ..comment, humor, anyone? =-.

  21. Ha, sounds just like me in high school! I wrote myself fake sick notes and went to school late all the time but was still an honors student. That’s why I chose to study at an “unconventional” college. Traditional schooling seemed like little more than memorizing information in order to ace tests. We were rarely challenged to think for ourselves and come up with our own solutions. And many of my peers wasted their energy competing to see who could get the highest GPAs and letter grades. It is all pretty meaningless when you look at the big picture.
    .-= Kathleen K. O’Connor´s last blog ..Friday Link Lounge – May 28, 2010 =-.

  22. Emotional selling is the only way to fly. People buy with emotions and then later rationalize a purchase with logic, no matter what you are selling… school to a teen, a car to a grandma, a $5,000 copywriting course to a kid sitting in his underwear in his mom’s basement.

    If you put the person behind the wheel of the product and use their own emotions as the driving force to put them there, then closing the sale will seem like magic at that point.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire
    .-= Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire´s last blog ..Small Business Owners- Instead of Selling Philosphy, Sell This and Get Wealthy =-.

  23. The more I read about marketing, the more I realize it’s less about the product and more about an idea. That seems to be the second most effective technique…scantily clad woman being the first. Congrats for having such an iconoclastic child. Her’s is exactly the kind of mentality we need more of this day and age.
    .-= Mark´s last blog ..Plotting: Part II: Addicted to Plot =-.

  24. I guess many does not understand the importance of bringing the emotional involvement of customers when it comes to business. One great mistake I have observed among business enthusiast is that they don’t know how to put their shoes on others. They rely on what they want rather than the wants of their prospective. Your analogy here has eloquently expressed this important nuances. :-)

  25. When I was a teenager, I used to roll my eyes at the mature students on my course, always so earnest and hardworking. Didn’t they know there was more to life than study?

    I went back to college recently as a mature student myself, and I was so much hungrier to learn after spending some time out in the big bad world. I’m sure the younger students on the course had exactly the same opinion of me, as I had at that age, but I just smile and know that in time, they will understand.

  26. I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  27. Funny thing is….

    I felt this way as a kid in high school, and often missed class. Then, went on to be an educator (16 yrs and counting) and have had this discussion w/ many a student ~ on the days he or she would make an appearance.

    Now, I’m experiencing this same line of thinking in a cubicle environment… benefits to me? NONE!

    Hmmmm….

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