Get your FREE Special Report “Your VSL Sucks!”

your vsl banner

How To Convert Like A Banshee


Recently, I’ve seen a stream of articles, (curiously, from respected copywriters) discussing the use of emotions in copy.

All of them had something to contribute. All offering creative insight into how they’re able to rack up incredible conversions.

However, based upon their articles, I believe they all unknowingly encourage…

Leaving MAJOR Money On The Table…

Now, before I get started I’m going to give these copywriters the benefit of the doubt and say they were probably trying to be politically correct, or because they were trying write to their market (and rack up “likes” and shares) they deliberately decided to hold back.

Heck… I never turned down a “like”. If you want to share this blog post that’s fine and I appreciate it, but what I’m about to reveal won’t change the facts of the matter one iota because…

Human nature doesn’t change.

What I’m about to discuss is not opinion, it’s fact. It’s human nature you can use to create incredibly compelling, incredibly motivating copy.

Getting Into the Head of the Prospect

Usually the copywriters’ article will talk about getting into the heads of your prospect.

Copywriters writing articles will post up an image similar to this:


Now, if you’re a copywriter and you’re reading this, this graphic looks reasonable. You may even say it’s pretty insightful.

But I believe it’s missing a little something.

And if that’s all you took away about the general use of emotions, your optin pages would suck, your emails wouldn’t get the click and your VSLs would be quickly abandoned.

This my friend, used as a basis to write copy, is not enough to get the job done.

There are THREE emotions which have been left out.

For whatever reason, I don’t know, but we’ll discuss them now. From least useful to most helpful, I advocate tapping into these three reservoirs liberally and often…


To be able to motivate, I love tapping into someone’s fears.

Now, you may say tapping into fear is over the top, uncalled for and the sign of an amateur.

I disagree.

If that’s how you feel, I strongly recommend staying out of the health, supplements and survival markets. You simply won’t be able to compete against someone trying to scare the crap out of the prospect to get them to take action.

Your Prospect’s Secret Fear

And, for the record, when I’m writing copy, and the reason I do so much research, is I’m looking for A SECRET FEAR.

For instance, I was recently commissioned to write a VSL for a diabetes info-product.

Now you can scour the internet for all sorts of scary facts about diabetes. Pictures, too. Those are good. We can do better.


Wickedly scary, huh? That’s a foot of a diabetic.

What is a diabetic’s SECRET fear?

Now, I’m not going to reveal that today because frankly that piece I recently wrote is converting up to 4% on cold traffic and it would compromise my royalty payments (speaking selfishly), but imagine if you knew the secret button you could press to get a diabetic to take action.

Research enough and you can find the secret fear(s) of every market. This little used copy strategy is one of the reasons my copy doesn’t sound like every other copywriter’s.

So using fear is good, and occasionally we can do even better…


Now, juxtaposed with the emotion of fear, fear and suffering kind of sound like the same thing, don’t they?

Close, but they’re not.

The emotion of fear is because of something totally made up in someone’s head. Technically, there’s no such thing.

The prospect is afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet. (Which creates all sorts of wonderful opportunities to paint very realistic scenarios.)

Fear is about the future.
Suffering is in the present.

Magnifying a person’s current suffering, amplifying the thoughts in their head, intensifying the emotions, will motivate someone to action.

Again, as long as the scenarios you magnify are realistic.

The more real, the more global the suffering among your target market, the more you’ll compel people to action.


What are your prospects silently suffering with?

So there’s fear, their secret fear, suffering and the last one…


When I say pain, I’m talking about real physical pain.

The pain of pricking your finger and drawing blood three times a day to get a glucose reading for the rest of your life.

No fun. You never get used to the pain.

The pain of daily insulin injections.

The constant pain of fire, walking on glass, and electrical shocks running up their legs like lightning bolts–which is what diabetics feel when their nerves start to die.

Yes, I’m being dramatic here. But I’m also being 1000% accurate.

And you can bet, a person with peripheral neuropathy will do anything they can to get out of it.

Very motivating, wouldn’t you say?

On Being Heavy Handed

Now you could say “Matt, you’re being heavy handed.”

And my reply would simply be “you don’t know diabetics and what they go through”.

You see, once you really understand your market, you know what their life is like. And the things I’ve just described are a daily occurrence for them.

These things haunt them.

And that’s what you want to do. You want to haunt people until they do whatever it is you ask.

Trust me, your prospect won’t see it as being heavy handed. They’ll see it as you knowing what their life is REALLY like.

Be Sure to Mix It Up

Instead of clumping all the negative motivational emotions together, vary it with the good, positive emotions.

Think “death by a thousand cuts”

I do this a lot in my copy. Why?

  • Because I want to create contrast between the good and the bad, one right after the other…
  • I don’t want the prospect anticipating what he’s going to read next…
  • I want to shock them…
  • Like a good horror movie, I want to create an emotional roller-coaster ride, lots of highs and lows…
  • And here’s something sneaky: In NLP, there’s a tactic called “fractionalization.” As you lead people from one idea to the next, from one story to the next, from one emotion to the next, (sometimes abruptly) they’ll be more and more inclined to follow you.(Insider tip for copywriters:  be sure to let your Client know you’re using fractionalization in a sales piece.  Otherwise they may view it as a rambling mess, unaware of the compelling effect it can have on a prospect.  Ask me how I know.)

Don’t Forget the Positive Emotions (They ARE Critical!)

Just for the record, I’m not advocating writing about all doom and gloom stuff. I’m NOT talking about fear mongering.


My Updated Version 😉

Fear, pain and suffering are just tools to me, to be deployed strategically within the copy.

There IS a time and place to use them.

Remember, if you HAVE done your research, the fear, pain and suffering your prospect reads about from you is something they’re already experiencing.

You’re just drawing attention to them. Subtly but directly, putting them under a microscope.

And as long as you have your prospects’ best and highest interests at heart, I believe you should use every tool at your disposal.

Scroll to Top