In high school, I worked as a vitamin pusher at GNC (they legit fired people for not hitting their multivitamin sales quota 🙄).
The Hydroxycut laden shelves weren’t really my jam, but the job had its perks.
When it wasn’t busy I got to sit on giant protein powder buckets, binge on caffeine laden pre-workout samples, and read.
… and the GNC I worked at was never busy, so I ended up reading a lot.
My fondest memories of that gig were reading Eckhart Tolle books and having endless Oprah style aha-moments.
It was then that I learned about the ego and how it fuels our thoughts and actions 99% of the time.
Of course, I subsequently went through a spell of trying to banish my ego and reach enlightenment. Part of the reason why I packed my bags at 19 and headed to India, but that’s a story for another day.
Regardless of my pure (borderline naive) intentions, I came back as ego-driven as ever but slightly more aware.
I learned a lot from Eckhart Tolle and other spiritual gangsters on what it is that motivates and molds people into who they perceive themselves to be.
I never thought this knowledge would come in handy beyond my own personal development, but it has — in a big way.
Copywriting and understanding our egoic human tendencies go hand in hand.
When you understand what drives most people, it’s easier to empathize. You recognize that most people are just trying to get what they want. Simple.
When I started diving deeper into the copywriting world, I quickly discovered that many a maverick copy guru was familiar with the idea that there are 16 basic human desires that we can use to ethically persuade people to take action.
Eckhart Tolle’s understanding of the ego and Steven Reiss’ 16 human desires really aren’t so different.
“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications.” — Eckhart Tolle
… to show the parallel, here are the 16 basic human desires Reiss discovered after conducting studies involving more than 6,000 participants:
- Acceptance, the need to be appreciated
- Curiosity, the need to gain knowledge
- Eating, the need for food ⇐ my fave 🌮
- Family, the need to take care of one’s offspring
- Honor, the need to be faithful to the customary values of an individual’s ethnic group, family or clan
- Idealism, the need for social justice
- Independence, the need to be distinct and self-reliant
- Order, the need for prepared, established, and conventional environments
- Physical activity, the need for work out of the body
- Power, the need for control of will
- Romance, the need for mating or sex
- Saving, the need to accumulate something
- Social contact, the need for relationship with others
- Social status, the need for social significance
- Tranquility, the need to be secure and protected
- Vengeance, the need to strike back against another person
It’s all connected.
Now, Ecky-poo would say that we are none of those things, that the ego is an illusion and you are so much more than that.
We may be “in the world but not of it” — but let’s put that concept aside for now and assume that most people are making choices from a place of egoic desire.
Here’s how understanding the ego and human desire can improve your copy, conversions, and maybe even your conversations…
- It’s not about you… not even your about page 😉
The irony of being ego-driven humans is that we’re all on the same hunt for recognition and acceptance.
So it’s tempting to try and make your copy about what you want and who you are, but it’s much more powerful when you approach your messaging from your prospect’s perspective.
What you do is important, but only in relation to how it serves them.
Your stories matter but only if they’re relevant and help create more resonance with your audience.
Whatever you write, always come back to the question of how does this help my ideal clients and customers?
2. Emotional benefits > logistical ones
I was listening to Tim Ferris’ interview with Seth Godin recently and Seth talked about how nobody needs a ¼ inch screw.
They don’t need a shelf or a spot for books. They don’t even need to make their space feel good — what they need is the feeling of their significant other thanking them for putting in the effort. In other words: recognition.
Pretty dramatically different from a screw, right?
How can you go deeper into what it is your product or service really represents?
3. Overcome objections like it ain't no thang
When you know what people want you can surmise what it is they don’t want. Anything that gets in the way of those 16 desires listed above. So here’s a fun exercise for you!
Go through that list and try to pinpoint how investing in what you have to offer could potentially raise a red flag for your audience. Then meet those objections with clarity, confidence, and a depth of understanding that this awareness makes possible.
To killing our egos,
P.S. As a side note, Eckhart Tolle was a depressed dude until he hit 29 and had some kind of too-good-to-be-true spiritual awakening. It took years before he owned it and became a spiritual teacher.
He then went on to completely overcome any imposter syndrome he may have had (though does that even happen when you’re enlightened?) and wrote some of the best selling personal development novels of the last decade.
In related news, the richest YouTuber of 2018 was a 7-year-old boy who made 22 million dollars sharing toy review videos.
Sooo… just in case you need to hear it, you got this. ❤️