It’s a given that your direct response mail piece—your postcard, door hanger, newsletter, etc.—must be clean, attractive-looking, and professional. People expect that. But the message that your marketing piece carries is ultimately what creates response, leads, and sales.

There is an entire planet’s worth of advice, rules, books, courses, and systems on how to the write persuasive marketing copy. One of the best and easiest to understand is Hot Button Marketing.

The “Why,” Not the “What”

The basic premise of Hot Button Marketing (the title of a little book by consumer behaviorist Barry Feig) is that people buy products and services for emotional reasons, not rational ones; understand the emotion behind why people buy, then “push that button” in your marketing copy.

One example of this is a man trying to sell a Jeep outfitted with a snowplow. He placed a classified ad that gives the usual car stuff: mileage, engine size, new tires (rational stuff). After getting no responses, he changed the ad to “Start your own snow removal business. Jeep with snowplow. Be your own boss.” He sold it the next day.

Of course, this idea, that people buy for emotional reasons, is a fundamental of writing effective sales copy, and is not unique to Feig. However, what he brings to the table is a system in which he’s identified all the possible buttons.

Only 16 Buttons

The marketing hot buttons—those emotional reasons that people buy stuff—are only 16 in number. While the scope of this blog post won’t allow us to discuss all of them (or any of them in great depth), here are several, which will give you a good idea of what this is all about:

  1. The desire for control
  2. The excitement of discovery
  3. “I’m better than you”
  4. Revaluing
  5. Family values
  6. The desire to belong
  7. Sex, love, and romance
  8. Fun is its own reward
  9. Poverty of time
  10. The desire to get the best
  11. Self-achievement
  12. The nurturing response
  13. Reinventing oneself
  14. Power, dominance, and influence
  15. “Make me smarter”
  16. Wish fulfillment

These are the “why’s”—the emotional reasons that people reach for and purchase products and services.

When and How to Identify the Hot Button(s)

A target public—may have more than one hot button for purchasing your product or service. You don’t settle on a hot button based on the product; it will come from the target public.

Some good times to isolate them are:

  • At the start, to find out if there’s actually a need for your product/service and which hot button(s) correspond that need.
  • When you want to increase your sales. You may discover that there is a stronger button than the one you’re currently pushing in your marketing.
  • When introducing a new product or service to your current offerings, to see if there is interest.

In each case, the way you discover the button is not by talking on and on about your product but by asking your customers questions and listening closely to their answers. They will tell you what they think of your product and why they buy it (why = the hot button).

When you seem to get that same “why” from a lot of customers, you can be pretty sure it will resonate with a large percentage of your customers and prospects. So use it on them in your postcard copy and watch your leads and sales go out the roof.


Many of our clients tell us they love the fact that they can log on to any time they want and create a postcard campaign with our classy customizable templates and mail it right from their computer.

But if you’re dealing with a poverty of time (to quote Hot Button Marketing), give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109, chat with our marketing & design pros and they’ll handle the design and mailing for you.