Is it wrong to use emotional triggers in sales letters?

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Is it wrong to use emotional triggers in sales letters? @ Yahoo! Video

In this edition of “How to write for maximum return” we review “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins, we look at a toolbar you can use to market your business and we discuss “Is it wrong to use emotional triggers?”

Here’s the transcript:

Hello, my name is Jackie Cooper and this is  “How to write for maximum Return.”  I’m glad you could join me.

In this edition, we’ll be

  • reviewing the Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins,
  • then I’ll be telling you about a new toolbar that you can use to advertise your business
  • and in our Q&A segment, we’ll be discussing ‘Is it wrong to use emotional triggers? ‘.

Let’s get started:

1.  Book Review: “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins  lived from 1866 – 1932.  He wrote “Scientific Advertising” and “My life in Advertising”. “Scientific Advertising” was written in 1923, but it’s still one of the most ‘scientific’ studies on advertising ever done.  I find it fascinating that even though this was written nearly a century ago, it’s extremely relevant today and that not a lot has changed since Hopkins was around.

Even today, I find very few businesses (except for the really large organizations)  are prepared to do the kind of scientific evaluation and tweaking of their advertising that Hopkins advocated.
Hopkins was probably the ‘father’ of testing.  He believed that you could not develop sound advertising without stringently monitored testing – and that without that, you’d be wasting most if not all of whatl you spent.

When it comes to writing for any kind of promotion, you’ll find the principles in Scientific Advertising to be pertinant and powerful.
Hopkins explores all aspects from psychology to strategy.  He talks about the specifics of how to craft offers, how to use samples, coupons and testing to make your written communications pay off handsomely

This book is now in public domain and is freely available.  If you’d like a FREE pdf copy, email me at and I’ll be happy to send one to you today.

2. Useful widgets:

There’s a really useful widget offered by in the form of a customizable tool bar.
Customizable tool bars for your browser are not new, but conduit’s version is quite different in that it’s quite a nice little marketing tool as well as a useful widget.

How it works is that you sign up for a free account and you build your own company tool bar with links to your site, your RSS feed, dynamic content tickers and your own company chat room for you to chat  live with your clients.  You can also add email notifiers, radio stations, weather checkers and a host of other fun things.

Once you’ve built your company tool bar, you advertise it with ready made banners you’ll find on the conduit site which allow visitors to your site to download your company toolbar and plug it effortlessly into their browser.  The beauty is that now you can be constantly in front of your clients whenever they open their browser and you encourage easy dialogue as well as repeat visits to your site.

It’s really easy to do, no html required and you’ll find it at:

3. Questions and Answers: “Is it wrong to use emotional triggers in sales letters?”

Q: Is it wrong to use emotional triggers when you write direct mail or ad copy? It feels like manipulation and I’m not sure it’s ethical.  What do you think? – Karen from Galveston.
A: Thanks Karen.

Well, on the surface of it, it may look like manipulation, Karen, and I have to say that it’s one of the things that I investigated when I first began in this business.  In fact, when I was a kid I used to hate advertising and think it was pushy and usually a pack of lies.

Later, once I became involved in marketing and in copywriting, I realised that the copy used to advertise things CAN be misleading, but more often than not, it isn’t.  In fact, it’s a service that allows busy people to find things they want a lot quicker.

As far as the emotional aspect is concerned, here’s what I’ve discovered and how I use it:

  1. people are really busy and it takes a lot to get their attention
  2. just as when you meet someone, you decide emotionally whether you’ll be friends or not, the same thing happens with products and services.
  3. if you have a need and I’m offering you a solution, you’ll choose the solution that appeals to you emotioally – the solution that eases your pain i.e. solves your problem.
  4. if I don’t articulate your pain and specifically deal with how my solution will ease it, then how do you know that I understand your pain, and if I don’t understand your pain, how can you be sure that my solution is specifically geared to treat it?
  5. by making an emotional connection, we get our audience’s attention long enough to explain how our product will be of use to them.  No more, no less.

There are times when we use a logical step by step ‘prove it’ approach
to promote something and to all intents and purposes this is ‘solid logic’ and not emotional at all.  However, when you examine this approach carefully, you’ll see it does have an emotional persuasion – in that it speaks to the person’s intellect and makes them feel that they are making a logical decision based on ‘facts’ – which makes them feel in control and therefore happy that they’ve made the right decision.  That’s emotion at work, don’t you think?

To answer your question, Karen, I believe it’s impossible to sell anything without emotional triggers – it’s a question of using them ethically rather than whether using triggers is an ethical practice.

Hope that helps you!  Please keep your questions coming – email them to

4. Words of wisdom:

Have you ever wondered why the vast majority of people, perhaps even you, never seem to get what they want in life?

Bob Proctor’s comment on this is that most people don’t have a clear, fixed idea of what they want.
If you don’t have a clear, fixed visual in your mind of what you want, you don’t have a strong motivation towards it and you’ll continually be drawn off course by other things.

To get what you want in life, first decide what it is, be passionate about it.  So passionate that you can’t help thinking about it all the time.
Then you’ll find that you begin to do the things necessary to achieve it.

Thanks for joining me!  Until next time, I’m Jackie Cooper Writer and this is “How to write for maximum return”


  1. Is it wrong to ask “is it wrong to use emotional triggers”?

    By including the notion of write/wrong in the question, it automatically creates an emotional/ethical/moral response.

    Just kidding, but the point is there.

    It’s not only impossible to sell without tripping triggers, it’s impossible to interact.

    The question isn’t should we use triggers, it’s how can we use them responsibly, as you indicated.

    Good onel

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  2. Thanks Jake – good observation. And you’re absolutely correct, of course. We are emotional beings, and as you pointed out, it’s impossible to interact without triggering some emotion, whether intentionally or not.

    I think another wrinkle to the whole concept is that there’s often confusion between involving someone emotionally, and actually trying to overpower their will. Trying to impose your will on someone else by overpowering their will is obviously not okay.

    However, I think often perceptions regarding the two concepts get confused.

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