How to ethically use shame in your copywriting

As described by the great Perry Marshall, using shame in your copy is an extremely delicate manner.

It’s one of the most powerful motivators to get people to take action… but use it incorrectly, and your promotion will fall flat on its face. Your prospects will feel bad, angry, and called out…

And they’re sure as hell not gonna give you their hard-earned money… or sign up to your free trial.

The great Gary Halbert wrote about shaming your prospect to get him to give you money… and how he failed miserably in his “Gary Halbert Letter” #6 called “10 Stupid Things” – check it out HERE.

So instead of calling out your prospect, poking them with a stick, rubbing salt into their wounds… there’s a much better way:

Weave everything into a story!

If you package an embarrassing, shameful situation into a story that either you or someone you know/have heard about/have read about on reddit has experienced… you create a respectful distance between what your prospect is ashamed of and how you talk about it.

As you tell the story, the readers/listeners will automatically put themselves into the situation of the story’s protagonist and feel how it also applies to their life.

Here’s how I’ve used shame subtly in an email series about men’s health not long ago.

The product was a natural supplement that promised to help increase your blood flow and your dopamine levels (among other health benefits) – and the angle we were going for was ER (erectile disfunction).

Now, here’s the thing about ER: it’s an incredibly delicate matter. There are things that every man needs to be capable of. And if he isn’t able to fulfill his duties there, he’ll start questioning whether he’s man enough…

Here are 3 issues that almost every man is extremely afraid of:

  • ER (a man’s power relies on his ability to reproduce and continue his legacy – if he can’t do it, what good of a man is he really?)
  • Not being able to take care of his family, physically, emotionally, financially
  • Failing to leave a legacy for those that come after him

So with that established, if I were just gonna call out the prospect that’s suffering from ED with a blunt “hey… do you sometimes feel you’re not man enough?”…

It COULD work… but it’s really hard to pull off. And you’d need to have a lot of trust established already.

Here’s an easier and more delicate way.

“hey… so the other day, I read a story about someone that was suffering from ED. It was an extremely challenging situation for him, and he started asking himself whether he’s man enough for his relationship…”

This is obviously an extremely watered-down version of the actual copy you’d use to get your point across… but see how it doesn’t call out the prospect’s shame directly?

That’s how you can pull off focusing your next promo on shame… without pointing any fingers and making your reader dislike you.

Instead, he’ll feel understood, and taken by the hand that leads him to where he wants to be.

Away from pain, towards pleasure.

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