Adams Hussey & Associates' Jim Hussey on Telling Great Stories
Emotional copywriting has been a marketing tactic mainstay since the dawn of man, practically. Want to engage someone? Want to get him to share your line of thinking? Want to get him to respond? Whether you're recruiting another caveman to join the hunt for food or trying to turn prospects into regular donors, tell a great story that they're likely to respond to.
Perhaps because that's not as easy as it sounds, or because other direct marketing techniques and new technology have bumped emotional copywriting down the priority list, there sometimes can be a stunning lack of originality in marketing copy today. To find out how and why mailers (and e-mailers) must get a better grip on telling fresh stories, especially in this challenging economy, I recently spoke with a master of this tactic, Jim Hussey, president of Adams Hussey & Associates. His company has offices in Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas and San Francisco, and its clients include the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Ethan Boldt: How do you and your company define emotional copywriting?
Hussey: It's definitely storytelling. There was a recent package that I wrote for one of our environmental animal conservation clients, centered on a wolf who dies a very tragic death outside the Yellowstone Park. That was an inspiring story because this wolf had been tracked by rangers throughout its life; it overcame adversity and had only three legs. The package was a success because people really responded to that story. I think most direct mail letters that are tied to emotion have to tell a story.
Boldt: Tell me how you deploy this tactic. Are you simply trying to tell a great story for a client that will evoke a strong emotion and one that translates into a response?
Hussey: The most important thing is you've got to connect with whoever is reading the letter. So the story has to connect to them. If the person is an animal lover, it's got to be something they can identify with. One of our clients is an association for aircraft owners. Typically, you don't think that's an emotional thing, but those aircraft owners and pilots are very passionate about flying—so it's important that you touch them as far as addressing their love of flying.