• How legendary copywriter, Joe Sugarman, used these triggers in his copywriting.

    An advertisement written by Joseph Sugarman

    Joe Sugarman is one of the most legendary copywriters.

    He once sold a $240,000 airplane in a single mail-order ad. In his most popular book, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, he shares 25 “psychological triggers” that get people to buy.

    This book helped shape my copywriting career more than any other book.

    Here’s a breakdown of each psychological trigger and a quote from The Adweek Copywriting Handbook.

    The Feeling of Involvement or Ownership Sugarman


    Make readers feel that they already own the product and you’re letting them use their imagination as you take them through the steps of what it be like if they already owned it.

    Make the customer use the product before they purchase it.

    Make them imagine it’s theirs by using it.



    Consumers can tell whether people are truthful in what they are trying to communicate.

    Sugarman was so honest, he once wrote an ad for a digital thermostat that said:

    “*It had no digital readout, an ugly case, and a stupid name. It almost made us sick.*”



    Show integrity and your advertisement will be well-received.

    Sugarman believed integrity came down to 3 things:

    • The look of your ad
    • The image that you convey
    • The typeface that you use



    Credibility means truthfulness.

    Honesty and integrity make credibility. Sugarman believed you needed to avoid these 3 things if you want to build credibility:

    • Rash statements
    • Cliches
    • Exaggeration

    Value and Proof of Value


    Copywriters want to convey value through comparison.

    Sugarman knew that consumers were smart enough to know that there are other competitors out there.

    It’s your job to bring that up and show them YOUR product is the best value

    Justify the Purchase


    The higher the price point, the more need there is to justify the purchase.

    Sugarman says if you want to resolve the objection, you need to justify every purchase in your copywriting, even if it’s just “you deserve it.”



    Greed is really not a very positive human trait. But it exists and it is a force to consider when communicating with your prospects.

    This means that people will buy things JUST because they are on sale.

    Establish Authority


    Consumers can tell whether people are truthful in what they are trying to communicate.

    Give assurance with popular products that make people more comfortable buying from you.

    Satisfaction conviction


    I’m so convinced that you will like this product that I’m going to do something for your benefit to prove how incredible my offer is.

    Satisfaction conviction should raise an objection and resolve it.

    Nature of Product


    You have to realize that every product has its own unique personality, its own unique nature, and it’s up to you to figure it out.

    For example, a fun toy should convey excitement and joy. A burglar alarm should be easy to install and offer peace of mind.

    Current fads


    Be aware of the current fads so you can determine the hottest product categories.

    Fads tend to come quickly and go quickly. So it’s smart to exploit a fad when you see it starting, especially if your timing is right.



    You want to be involved at the beginning of a fad and not enter in the middle or the end. That’s smart timing.

    Sugarman recommends you first test every product you sell before placing a big bet. Consumers tell you if you’re too early, too late, or on target.



    It is important that your product harmonize with or fill the needs of your prospect.

    Sugarman says don’t just harmonize with the market, harmonize with your customer.

    Desire to Belong


    People buy a specific product because they subconsciously want to belong to the group that already owns or uses that product.

    This is a powerful motivational factor because prospects want to identify with a particular group.

    Desire to Collect


    There is a very large segment of the population that has an emotional need to collect a series of similar products.

    People collect cars, sunglasses, dolls, and whatever else because they have the urge to collect.



    Curiosity is one of the leading motivating factors in all direct response marketing.

    Sugarman says the key to curiosity is holding back part of a story in order to make people curious and create demand.

    Sense of urgency


    The sense-of-urgency statements always go at the end of your advertising.

    You can convey a sense of urgency with limited editions. Or listing the wrong price and saying it was going back up in a few days.

    Instant gratification


    Find a way to ship your merchandise out quicker, deliver it faster, and provide better service than any retailer could ever offer.

    The closer you can get a person to getting instant gratification, the better they feel about the product.

    Exclusivity, Rarity, or Uniqueness


    The emotional appeal of this approach is quite strong. Everybody likes to feel special.

    If there’s a special significance behind a product (and a limited amount), it drives its value up massively.



    You must keep your advertising simple. The positioning of your product must be simple.

    Focus on what you’re trying to accomplish and eliminate everything else that complicates it.

    • Use simple words
    • Keep layouts simple
    • Simple typefaces

    Human Relationships


    Show how the product feels, how it fits, and how it will look.

    Buying is always an emotional experience. Tell stories because they resonate more with people. Sugarman also says to use as many positive human elements as you can.



    I give the reader compelling information — so much so that they sense an obligation to respond.

    For instance, charities would send people free things like stickers or other small gifts in order to kind of “guilt” people into sending in a donation.



    Being specific in your explanations is very critical and can establish your credibility.

    Here’s an example Sugarman shows:

    • Bad: New dentists everywhere use and recommend CapSnap Toothpaste.
    • Good: 92% of new dentists use and recommend CapSnap Toothpaste.



    Be aware of the powerful force of familiarity to make a person comfortable with your product or service.

    Sugarman gives these examples:

    • Familiar brand logos
    • Familiar phrases. (not cliches)
    • Familiar copywriting layout



    One aspect to focus on when you create an ad using the power of hope is credibility.

    Food supplements, lowering your golf score, preventing wrinkles, and other good opportunities are the psychological trigger of hope at work.

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