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The Science of Copy Writing in Marketing

Introduction to the Science of Copy Writing in Marketing 

By Dr. Kim ByrdRider, PT 

Writing business marketing copy challenged me.  It seemed to be an art of hit or miss but I discovered it is not an art. It is a formulated science. 

A prolific writer once told me, “Writing copy is like making a cake with a recipe. Anyone can do it.”  I did not believe her. When I look at copy, I can easily tell what is good copy and what is bad copy, just as I can tell good cake from bad cake without knowing the ingredients. The problem…everyone else can too.   

What ingredients make great marketing copy? One main ingredient has to be motivation. I know I am trying to motive people to attend a course or buy a product. Like flour in a cake, motivation has to be there. According to personality psychology, there are three personality motivation styles. Those three styles crave three universal needs. Personal motivation style stirred into three universal needs with my product sprinkled in. What a cake! 

Presentation format is another concern solved by Mind Valley, a multi-million-dollar marketing corporation with an internal research team. As a result of combining personality psychology and marketing resources, I have seen success.  After reading the following document, my boss promoted me from volunteer personal assistant to product marketing director. More importantly, copy no longer challenges me.  It’s easy, sensical and effective! By trade, I am a physical therapist not a marketing writer! My friend was right; anyone with THIS recipe can do it. 


The Science of Copy Writing in Marketing 

 Based on Personality Psychology 


Why is this document CRITICAL to businesses? Marketing copy is the point of contact for customers. It is the face of business. People see marketing copy and judge products, professionalism and integrity by its qualities.   

Marketing copy shares similarities to a menu in a restaurant. Have you ever read a menu that said, “Hamburger with 100% ground beef, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise” and you thought…what else is on this menu?   

At another restaurant the menu says, “Hamburger: Japanese Kobe beef, farm to table vegetables, and mayonnaise whipped by our own Chef Eric.”  You go no further on the menu. You definitely want this burger!  Why? The sentence addresses your motivation for power (Japanese beef is superior), your motivation for achievement (helping the local farmers) and your motivation for association (Chef Eric is now your friend J). Voila! Purchase complete, fast and powerful.  

The chef also acquired a repeat customer because you “feel” like the restaurant understands you. You are understood because of an easy formula based on personality motivation styles, universal needs and a product.  In this document, we will define personality motivation styles and fundamental universal needs which help you “Know Your Audience” and “Know Your Product’s Benefits”.  Practical templates will be provided for establishing motivational styles, effective product benefits with tone and document format.  In essence, learn the easy logical recipe for successful marketing copy based on science. 

Know Your Audience: Current and Potential Clients 


Psychology research recognizes three personality motivation styles. They are independent and non-correlated to one another. Each ranges from low motivation to high motivation. One motivation style score does not affect nor influence the scores of the other motivation styles. This means one could score high or low in all three categories (Jongman-Sereno, 2017). 

Characteristics of Personality Motivation styles: 

  1. Power Motivation:  desire to influence and control others, seek power, seek leadership, attend more organizations, hold more offices, increased status in people’s eyes, power careers (influencing other people), more directive leadership style but not more effective, fewer facts, fewer accepted proposals from others, fewer expressions of ethics and morals, stress when out of control, friends with less power motivation, accumulate “prestige possessions” and “power props”(i.e. taller chair, international clock), less negotiation, more great decisions, more men extravagant lifestyle, and similar characteristics. 


  1. Achievement Motivation: accomplish difficult things, master one’s environment and overcomes obstacles to attain a high level of performance. It is often called the “need for achievement” but it is not a need. Characteristics: energetic with work or achievement tasks, jobs with personal control over outcomes, seeks feedback about performance, high priority on achievement and chooses tasks of moderate difficulty.  More successful at academics, sales and business (only when his control over outcomes is high). Decreased success in politics because there is no personal control element.  Self-defines and self-initiates tasks. When the task is assigned by others, it doesn’t matter as much.  Underachieving could be a fear of failure. 



Type A Personality:  is a subset of “Achievement Motivation”. Type –A is aggressively motivated to achieve more in less time, hard worker, more tasks, more groups, less time, time urgency, multitasks, value quickness, efficient, estimate of passing time is faster and hostility with slow moving tasks or people. Increased:  success, grades, salary, status, achievement, car accidents, heart attacks and undermining of relationships. 


  1. Association Motivation: be with and interact with others. Combination of five motivations: 1. Positive emotions or situations pursuit 2. Attention or approval 3. Reduce negative emotions 4. Social comparison information 5. Opportunity for relationship-any. Characteristics: sociable, enjoyable, extroversion, agreeableness, discloses about themselves, increased social life, unhappy alone and increased concern with what people think of them (Jongman-Sereno, 2017). 

Know Your Product  


Do the product benefits fulfill universal needs? 


Self Determination Theory:  Fundamental Universal Needs 

  • Every person regardless of nationality is motivated to attain ALL three Fundamental Universal Needs listed below.  

  • A need is a state of tension within a person and if not satisfied results in physical or psychological dysfunction.   

  • People use their personal motivational style to achieve all of the following needs (Jongman-Sereno, 2017). 


  1. Competence: mastery of tasks, skills  

  1. Autonomy: control of environment, control of personal life, independence  

  1. Relatedness: Sense of belonging and attachment to others  


The product benefits must accomplish one or more of these Fundamental Universal Needs to become powerfully motivating 


Worksheet: Establishing Personality Motivation Style 


  1. Current Clients: This group is looking for your product 

In each category, score a stereotypical version of your current client’s motivational style from 0-10.  

Current clients… 

0 = do not have this motivation      5= moderate in this motivation    10 = high in this motivation 

  1. Power Motivation   ___________ 


  1. Achievement Motivation_______ 


Type A Personality____________ 


  1. Association Motivation________ 

Circle the highest scoring motivational style. To ensure current client adherence, create a marketing push for the highest score here. The primary push is to this motivation style. 


  1. Potential Clients: the product currently does not appeal to these motivation styles or they would be purchasing. 

  • Exclude and mark out the current clients’ motivation style. 

  • Rate the product’s potential to motivate purchases from 0-10.  

For this motivation style, the product has… 

 0 = no appeal              5= moderate appeal      10 = potentially high appeal if marketed correctly 

  1. Power Motivation   ___________ 


  1. Achievement Motivation_______ 


Type A Personality____________ 


  1. Association Motivation________ 


List the motivation styles in order of marketing priority:  

(1st push) Priority = highest score in section I.                             1.________________________ 

(2nd push) Moderate Priority = highest score in section II.          2.________________________ 

(3rd push) Min./Mod. Priority = 2nd highest score in section II.   3.________________________  

Form: Product, Benefits & Tone Choice 

Current and Potential Groups: How do we motivate each group with our products? 


If the correct product is presented in an appropriate tone with motivating benefits, customer satisfaction increases. Customer satisfactions produces purchases, verbal referrals and repeat business. 


  1. Current Client type__________________________(strongest motivation style) 



  1. Product Choice: Which product(s) appeals to this group’s motivation style? Example: The lecture on the 19th of Jan. has opportunity for intimate small groups which motivates the Association Style.  Promote this product to this style. 


  1. Benefits Choice: What qualities/benefits of this product trigger this motivation style? Benefits must meet the Fundamental Universal Needs categories of (a) competence, (b) autonomy and (c) relatedness. List at least three product qualities/benefits for each of the three universal needs.  


  1. Tone Choice: What types of words appeal to this motivation style? Use this language tone in the push. Example: “Make deep lasting connections” for Association Motivation style. 



  1. Potential Clients__________________________________(motivation style) 


  1. Product Choice: Which product(s) appeals to this group’s motivation style? Example: The lecture on the 20th of Feb. teaches how to be a proficient Chairman of the Board which motivates the Power style. Promote this product to this style. 


  1. Benefits Choice: What qualities/benefits of this product trigger this motivation style? Benefits must meet the Fundamental Universal Needs categories of (a) competence, (b) autonomy and (c) relatedness. List at least three product qualities/benefits for each of the three universal needs.  


  1. Tone Choice: What types of words appeal to this motivation style? Use this language tone in the push. Example: “Conquer your fears” for Power Motivation style. 


  • Repeat for each motivational style needed. 



 Build Sentences 


Write about the chosen product from Form-A. Use the benefits list from Form-B containing the Fundamental Universal Needs categories of (a) competence, (b) autonomy and (c) relatedness. Try to use all three categories in the product description. Make sure to use the tone from Form-C throughout. 

Example Association Motivation Style benefits and tone with Fundamental Universal Needs: 

“Learn the art of rug making (a) with other beginners (c) over a week long journey. Create unique holiday gifts for your loved ones (b). Our teachers are service oriented and ready to help you (c).” Product choice: a week long product, they will have time to bond with others.  Relatedness is in the sentence twice because it is their primary motivator. Relationship toned words added: loved ones, help you, give gifts and journey. Competence at a skill is as a beginner. Autonomy is mentioned but at a low level: making their own holiday gifts, not starting a business. Competence and autonomy are present but not at high levels.  These are needs but not primary motivators for Association Motivation style. 

Example Type-A, Achievement Motivation Style benefits and tone with Fundamental Universal Needs: 

 “Leverage your earning potential (b). Learn 7 new programming skills in 1 day (a) with like-minded people (c).”  A short push with numbers instead of words so he can read quickly. Quickness is essential to Type-A. He gets frustrated with slow people. He likes being surrounded by other Type-As and is reassured he will build relationships with “fast” people. He also wants to achieve a lot of skills in a short time thus, 7 skills in 1 day. He considers a higher salary an achievement, which drives Type-A Motivation style. 

Example Power Motivation Style benefits and tone with Fundamental Universal Needs: 

“Master teacher and Psychiatrist (c) Dr.  Jill Smith jump starts students to super power status (a) in only two days. Become a high-ranking CPA (a) with three easy steps (b). Bonus: Private sessions with the instructor (c) to answer your specific questions.” Tone: the teacher’s status, super power, and high-ranking are important tone setting words. Product choice: a two-day workshop works for a power person, not a week. An overabundance of information will not be achieved but some. Achievement is not a primary motivator for power style. The relationship focus is with the powerful teacher. The course has high leadership qualities and bonus personal material which appeals to Power Motivation style.  


Format: Writing Your Document/Video 

Use language tone developed from Form-C 


Structure of Copy:   I. Product     II. Benefits     III. Call to Action 



Use the product choice from Form-A.  Product title, teacher, dates, time, facts etc. 




(Plug the benefit sentences into the following bulleted layout.) 


  • At the beginning of the benefits section provide bulleted info with a purchase option at the end of the bullets. 

  • After the bulleted section, provide the same information but with great detail and description. Add one more purchase option to this section. The last purchase option comes after the Call to Action.  

  • Three purchase options, total. 


“Bullet people”: some people know what they want or impulse buy. They need a quick reference to important information with an early purchase opportunity. The sale is lost if customers have to scroll too far to purchase.  

“Detailed people”: some people like detailed long prose.  They want to know every nuance of the product, including the refund policy, before they purchase. 

Both groups must be serviced in marketing communication.  Obviously, put the bullets first with the purchased opportunity then comes the long prose.  Put an opportunity to purchase in the middle of the long prose and one after the Call to Action. This makes a total of 3 opportunities to purchase. No more and no less than 3 opportunities to buy. This number has been researched.  


Here are some writing pointers.  Group things in 3s.  People respond to 3 better than 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6. Avoid using “this” and “that”.   Use only 1-2 prepositional phrases per sentence. Follow the pattern of complex, simple, complex and then simple sentences. All the conjugations of the “to be” verb are passive and should be avoided.  Is, are, was and were plus all their future and past variations qualify. Use action verbs instead. 


Write about why & how you need to purchase. Create an urgency or shortage.  Discounts for early bird specials go here.  Add advantages to buying early or limited space.  Appeal to “Contact us” for more information. The motivation style can even be applied here with tone wording. Put the last of the three opportunities to buy or sign up at the very end (MindValley, 2017). 



Considerations: For Best Results 

  1. To increase the accuracy of current customers’ Personality Motivation style, distribute a motivation style measurement questionnaire to a large sample of current customers. 


  1. Marketing Emails and Mailers:  


  1. General Simple version: Evaluate products and decide which group would be motivated most by which product.  Write the copy for that product using the chosen motivation style associated with it. Strategy presented in this document. 


  1. Specific Complex version: Every customer receives an incentive to take a motivation questionnaire. Customers are grouped according to their motivational style.  Specialized copy is sent to a specific motivation style mailing lists to optimize sales opportunities.  Instead of getting bombarded with products, each group receives campaigns for products which suit their motivation style with access to the full catalogue. 


  1. Educated guessing works when marketing to unknowns. If the neighborhood of the mailer is known, the copy leans toward the stereotypical people who live there. High-end neighborhoods receive Power/Achievement/Type-A Motivation copy.   A social women’s group receives Association Motivation copy.  A hospital administration receives Achievement Motivation copy, etc. 


  1. Conscientious is one of five universal personality traits and also motivates people on an independent scale from low to high. Conscientious does NOT correlate to the other personality trait scales of extrovert, agreeable, open and neurotic nor to the other motivation styles. 

High Conscientious characteristics include responsible, reliable, high self-control, persistent, timely, organized, orderly, clean, structured, fewer car accidents and tickets, increased IQ, school achievement and other similar attributes.   Since ALL people score somewhere on this scale, it is best to assume all customers score high.  All products should be on time, clean, orderly, reliable, organized and structured. 


Kressel, L. M., & Uleman, J. S. (2010). Personality traits function as causal  

concepts. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(1), 213-216.  


McCabe, K. O., & Fleeson, W. (2015). Are traits useful? Explaining trait  

manifestations as tools in the pursuit of goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. 


McCrae, R. R., & Costa Jr, P. T. (1997). Personality trait structure as a human  

universal. American Psychologist, 52(5), 509-516. 

MindValley (Nov. 1, 2017). Marketing Hacking. Retrieved from 

Jongman-Sereno, Katrina. Personality and Self-Knowledge, course PSYC E 1707. Harvard University, Fall, 2017.  




I'm Dr. Kim
Byrd-Rider, PT

In our Soul School at Firm Water Road, we are dedicated to helping people create healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Our program combines various modalities, including positive psychology, mystics, physics, and lifestyle medicine, to help our clients achieve optimal wellness. We specialize in Healthcare Workers, Military Members, School Teachers, and Students, but our holistic approach to wellness is beneficial for everyone. Let us help you achieve your health goals today.  Join us at or subscribe to the youtube channel

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