How Cancer and Death Can Make a Dull Product Irresistible


When you say “data” few people perk up their ears. It’s a cold word that brings to mind row after row of zeros and ones. Yet you and I need data to help us make sound business decisions, uncover lost opportunities, and perfect our current efforts.

Data, however, can be overwhelming. Where to start? Who looks at it? What are you trying to accomplish? How much time do you have?

Compound this with the notion that you could be leaving money or valuable ideas on the table simply because you can’t or don’t have the resources necessary to mine that data, and the tension builds.

This is exactly the kind of problem that Ayasdi Iris claims to remedy.

Get Out of the Head–and Into the Heart

Ayasdi Iris says it’s a query-free insight discovery tool. In fact, it claims to be the world’s first “Insight Discovery Solution.”

Eh, okay.

In other words, software that will explore your data and find patterns and anomalies that can lead to insights.

Got it. But something just doesn’t quite feel right here. Have you picked up on it?

The problem is that at this point in their presentation we are still in the realm of the head. We are still in the abstract, non-concrete world of numbers, data, and software.

Who really gets excited about numbers, data, and software? I mean excited enough to drop several thousand dollars?


So, we need to get to the heart if we want people to care. If we want our copy to compel. If we want people to read every word we write.

Some might argue that because Ayasdi’s target audience is made up of scientists and business users–people who are stereotypically categorized as bent on logic and pragmatism–that heart issues won’t work on them.

That’s baloney. All humans use their emotions to make decisions.

How to Pluck Heart Strings

Explore Ayasdi’s website and you see they make a classic mistake when it comes to writing web copy: focusing on the features and not the benefits. You see what the product does, and you even get a sense that something big could happen with Ayasdi.

But what?

This is where they nail it with their explainer video. It opens with the problem, then agitates that problem, and finally slides into emotional territory: cancer and death.

This does two things.

  • Raises the stakes – If you want people to care about your copy, then something has to be at risk. This is why we care so much about football. There is a winner and loser. The higher the stakes the more engagement you will get. This is why some books are ferocious page turners. A relationship is about to dissolve. A child is lost. A village is threatened.
  • Hit close to home – You can’t go very far before running into someone who has either survived breast cancer, knows a breast cancer survivor or knows someone who has lost a battle with breast cancer. Nobody is immune to the effects of breast cancer.

This is real stuff with huge ramifications. Any worthwhile product should have these components. If they don’t, then you have a product that solves nothing meaningful.

Think about social media for a moment.

Most thinking adults would recognize the vapid nature of social media. Another distraction. Erodes personal and physical relationships. Leans toward useless entertainment.

But great marketers of social media overcame those objections by marching out meaningful benefits like connecting with old high school friends, communicating with parents deployed to foreign nations, and sharing photos of your children with distant relatives.

Heart strings type stuff. And that’s what you need to inject into your copy if you want it to be compelling and turn your readers on.

Don’t know what turns your prospects on? Here are four cheap ideas to get you started. And next week I’ll talk about more ways to raise the stakes.

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  1. says

    Love it Demian.

    Emotions totally turn the reader on. It’s almost like you could write a dull post, or write that same dull post and insert 3-4 lines of heart plucking copy in there, and get two TOTALLY different out comes.

    In my recent jam at my blog I had the headers and subheaders off. I knew the content was intriguing/new stuff at least for my folks, but my headers were mad confusing. Made the headers more compelling and right away some interaction poured in :)

    Keep it up!

    • says

      Yeah, you would be surprised how much headlines/subs affect the outcome of a post. We will live in a social media share world, so viral heads/subs are important. I wrote a post about this awhile back… 😉

  2. says

    Thanks for the great advice Damien.

    I’ve been recently seeing this topic being explained in multiple blogs.

    People don’t care HOW you so something, they care WHY you do something.

    If you manage to connect with the emotions of people then you have a better chance of succeeding with your business.

    I’m actually having some trouble connecting with the emotions of my readers. What kind of emotional benefit do my readers get when they visit my design blog?

    Hopefully Damien can help me on this? :)

    • says

      Great quest, Rahat. First you have to figure out what are the top emotions/concerns of your readers. In a design world I would guess pride, vanity (not a bad thing–creatives need recognition), make more money, get ahead of competition.

      And how do you find out about those emotions? Ask them. In a simple blog post is all you really need. Nothing fancy. 😀

  3. Justin McCullough says

    That word is said about 5 times throughout the video. And it helps.

    I agree with you, Demian, heart strings need pulling. The best emotional marketing causes a physical reaction-a smile, tears, rush of blood, lump in your throat.

    Getting to that place isn’t easy.

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