I audited a direct marketing webinar the other day dealing with improving customer acquisition results.

One of the presenters made the case that for all the hype about database this and viral marketing that, the most important reality is that human nature doesn't change. If you want someone to respond to your offer (or appeal or message), you need to tap into the unchanging motivators of human behavior.

He used a chart first presented by direct marketer Victor Schwab over 50 years ago (Mail Order Strategy, Hoke Communications, 1956) to underscore his point.

Schwab used four categories of motivators, with lists of “wants” for each category:

  • People want to gain (e.g., health, comfort, advancement, praise)
  • They want to do certain things (e.g., win affection, satisfy curiosity, resist domination)
  • They want to save (e.g., money, time, worry, discomfort)
  • They want to be (e.g., up-to-date, first, influential)

Take a look at Schwab's complete list. Add your own “wants”. Then think about how they apply to writing materials intended to raise funds or generate political action.

Do you agree with the premise? Is there something a hot young copywriter, mail or online, can learn from a 50-year-old list? Or is your prospect a different beast these days?


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