The 5 Human Motivators

The 5 Human Motivators

Herschell Gordon Lewis wrote an amazing book in 2004 called "On the Art of Writing Copy." Why is this significant?

Well, Mr. Lewis had two separate yet distinguished careers: he was a successful & esteemed copywriter, taking on large corporate accounts & outfitting their marketing with highly persuasive words... and! Mr. Lewis was an exploitation titty-gore filmmaker during the 1960's & 70's.

During the last year of his life, we actually became friends. One time, I took his to an Elvis-themed diner and he was talking about this experience, of having lived two careers with separate crowds of people: the grindhouse gore cinema crowd being very different from the corporate CEO crowd. But that's what I had to interrupt - "C'mon Herschell," I said, "I see your copywriting pen stroke on every single movie poster & trailer you made. That was the true art of your films - how you used words to persuade people to come see them."

He beamed a huge smile when I said that; then told me a story about a guy who went to one of his copywriting seminars and approached him afterwards saying, "You know there's a guy running around making these awful movies with the same name as yours..."

Anyway, Herschell taught me how to use words to sell movies. I'm no master like he was, but at least I was trained by a true exploitation roadhshow man.


I'm not entirely sure why I said all of that when this was supposed to be a quick blog post about a concept inside one of his books. I've been thinking about this concept recently, and although I may have covered it in the past, I feel like doing it again.

So, Herschell claims he discovered a formula for persuasive writing. He says it hinges on 5 basic human motivators. If you stick to one of the human motivators, you'll always be able to replicate persuasive, effective results with your writing. 

These motivators are not primal, but the result of living in a modern society - one he titles The Age of Skepticism.  He writes:

"We're in the Age of Skepticism, and anybody who might be moved by food, clothing, or shelter isn't worth your promotional dollars. Gourmet food? Yes. Designer clothing? Yes. Status-laden shelter? Yes. But it's the qualifier words that give us the motivators, not the bald requirements of life.

It's a competitive marketplace, and you have to whang them right between the eyes. So you lean on one of the Five Great Motivators:

1. Fear

2. Exclusivity

3. Guilt

4. Greed

5. Need for Approval.

And if you're particularly astute and have the opportunity, you forst the cake with either or both 'soft' motivators

1. Convenience

2. Pleasure

If you write clearly, within the reader's experiential background, and present benefits based on an appeal to one of these motivators, you can't miss!"

The First Cut of "Le Joli Mai" (1963)

The First Cut of "Le Joli Mai" (1963)

The Atrocity Films of Logan Paul

The Atrocity Films of Logan Paul