Those Deadly Sins

Andrew Morris

Professional writer and translator. Described by his mother as “a genius” and by everyone else as “that Welsh bloke”.

September 28, 2020

Fittingly for a seventh blog post, I thought I’d offer you some deadly sins this fine morning. You may be aware, if you’re a theology geek, that the maleficent seven are not explicitly listed as such in the Bible, but constitute a traditional Christian teaching, as well as a contrast to the seven heavenly virtues (but who cares about those?).

The sins in question are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth. You may have your favourite(s), but we are all subject to these at various times in our life. 

But what on earth, you’re asking yourself by now, do they have to do with writing in general, and with Tell My Story in particular?

Those with elephantine memories will recall that last week, besides talking about a professional advertorial charting your achievements and displaying your awesome potential for all the world to see, I mentioned writing web copy for your service or product, particularly the About page. Note how the form stands alone. It’s an About page, not an About Me or an About Us page, leaving the term nicely ambiguous. 

And you will also no doubt remember that we agreed (well, I agreed with myself) that the main focus of said page should NOT be you, but your client. There’s another page where we can lead your clients to find out about your passion for origami, devotion to cultivating orchids, or lifelong fascination for orang utans. Let’s call that the “personal About page” We’ll come back to that next week. 

So, with that nicety established, let’s return to our sins.

Marketing gurus — and who am I to gainsay them? — tell us that behind all great advertising is an appeal to one of the deadly sevensome. 

Think about it. Ever seen a hoarding saying “Your government is ripping you off”? That’s wrath (as in “Grapes of”). What about “Stand out from the crowd with our oh-so-expensive shoes” (Admittedly, that’s not an actual slogan but you get the drift). In a word: pride. Put a skimpily clad leggy model on your car in a car show and you’re appealing to male lust. Tell your clients “Half-price sale!” and of course you’re activating their greed. 

What about “All you can eat!!” or “Put your feet up with our new supersofa!” or “Why should your neighbours have all the fun?” I’ll let you match them up. 

What our gurus have understood is that these are deep human drives, and that if we can link your service or product to one of them, there’s a fair chance we might have a strong subliminal effect. 

Of course it’s never made explicit. “Be a lazy bum thanks to my new service” or “Feeling pissed off? We bet you are!” are unlikely to work, but if we’re subtle, we can always activate one of the seven impulses through the way we write about what you offer. 

Think about it: which of the seven does your service or product alleviate, excite or stimulate in any way?

That might just be a key to the copy I write for you…

Over to you

Care to share your thoughts? Head on down to the comment section.

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