3 powerful copywriting triggers that get a response

They Laughed When He Ran For President but Look at Him Now.

They really did laugh, many people thought he was just trying his luck. Some opinions were that he should stick to business, no way could he run a whole country. But, he won, this is why we should all dream big.

You must know who I’m talking about (Mr Donald Trump) but allow me to take you back in time to 1988 on the Oprah Winfrey Show when he pretty much had the same ideas about how things should be run as he does now.

Oprah asked him if he would ever consider running to become president he said: “Probably not but, I – I do get tired of seeing the country ripped off.” Oprah then asked why he would not, to which he replied, “I don’t think I really have the inclination to do it ” and that “I probably wouldn’t do it, Oprah.” In the same interview, he did say that he thought he’d have a “hell of a chance of winning.”

This is because “people are tired of seeing the United States ripped off.” Now 29 years later he’s President of the U.S.A.

My point here is? You’re probably asking.

Is that if you are an individual or small to medium-sized business it pays to think big and stick to your company’s vision.


The reason you are here reading this is that I lured you here with the headline.

The formula of this headline goes back a century to a copywriter by the name of John Caples.

The story goes that at the age of 26, he wrote an ad with this headline, which propelled him a year later into a superstar copywriter.

I could just imagine the millions he made for this company with this ad.

The headline was,” They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano. But When I Started to Play!”

Doesn’t it just sound so powerful without the reader (you) knowing the dynamics of what makes it work so well?

Today we’ll explore this and answer the following questions:

What makes this ad so good?
Which triggers did he use?
Why it works so well?
The key takeaways for you.

I want you to understand the importance of these things when communicating your product or service with your customers.

You may already know that the best way to connect with your reader is to hit on the emotional nerve.

Remember, that your conscious mind may not relate or take notice of specific information but your subconscious records every bit of information.

How Trump Manipulated People’s Emotions

Check how Trump did it. He spoke a lot about the pains people felt and how unfair things were for the American people, and how he would right that wrong.

Whether people are aware of it or not, he is a very skilled emotional manipulator (marketer). He related to his audience, which makes it good copywriting.

He met people where they were in their mental dialogue, and capitalised on their fears. This makes him good at marketing.

The embarrassment trigger:

My Bus Stop Horror: The Time I Was laughed At In Public.

We can all relate to being laughed at, mainly as a child or teenager.

I remember being laughed at while running for the number 19 bus in Angel going towards Highbury and Islington, London at the age of 16. It was one of the archetypal red rear-entrance busses with the conductor sitting at the entrance.

I needed to get home for a particular time otherwise my mother would not have been pleased (she was strict). Focusing more on making it home on time, I ran for the bus, tried to hop on as it took off and I fell.

I felt so embarrassed, I quickly stood up to try to play it off as though it didn’t happen but then I looked across to my left and saw two girls laughing at me. “People,” I thought, and walked off with my tail between my legs.

My point is, it happens, it just makes you feel small and belittled. This is why it works so well as a trigger. We all have a story about an embarrassing moment.

The beginning of the headline starts with “ They Laughed When I sat down at the piano” it is so powerful, it gives you information about the people the writer is dealing with, snobs, you get the impression they know him and doubt his ability, he seems a little inept.

The curiosity trigger:

This trigger plays on a sense of curiosity about what will happen next.

So, what happens next?

The tone shifts into something more optimistic he says “But when I started to play!”

They shut their faces and looked on in shock and amazement. Some even dropped their glasses. One woman almost fainted; her husband caught her before she fell to the floor, but her wig fell down.

Granted, the above fictional–no one lost their wig, but that part of the headline makes you fill in the blanks. It just shows how powerful these triggers can be, and how your mind can get carried away.

The hook just breathes curiosity and gets your imagination going and engaged. It makes you want to read the rest of the copy to find out what it’s all about.

Need for acceptance trigger:

This is the underlying trigger of the whole headline because there are always people in our lives we want to impress so we can relate to this. It also feeds into the need for approval. By learning to do something so well that others praise you for it, you feel good. Their approval can lead to you feeling accepted.

This is why to some copywriters this is one of the most amazing headlines, ever.

These timeless triggers are evergreen, and you can use them to give your headline a boost.

Become an expert pianist in 30 days, at home!:

Caples could have easily done the straightforward thing and come up with a headline like: “Become an expert pianist in 30 days, at home!” That is an OK headline that tells you practically what to expect, but millions of people don’t just learn the piano to become experts. It is much deeper than that, it is to fulfil a life-long dream, to impress people, to feel good about themselves.

He sold it on its ability to create a sense of awe in people about the pianist. To gain adoration for his skills and to be so skilled that he shocked his friends. If you can play good people want to listen. Caples understood this.

Final thoughts:

Now you can use this headline as an example when writing your headlines. Consider what your ideal customers must be thinking right now, and how your solution will make them feel. Who they might want to impress, and the good your product/service will have on their lives.

Originally published at MyBlog

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