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1. “You’re spam until you prove otherwise.”

Researchers have found that we see most people we encounter as objects, rather than full-on humans. This is one reason people are pre-disposed to tune you out.

The fix: to write with empathy and show up as human as you possibly can.

You can find out more about this by googling Dunbar’s number.

2 – 3. Stay out of Maslow’s basement. Focus on identity instead.

Pain points are key to sales, right? Kinda … but people actually have a pretty low threshold for psychological threats like that before they click away. So stay away from talking about things at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, and instead make appeals to identity. These are much more effective, due to the differences in the identity vs consequences model of decision-making.

You can find out more about this by googling Daniel Kahneman’s work.

4. We’re much more similar than we are different.

Researcher Jonathan Haidt has found that humans around the world base large parts of our identity on the same six areas, regardless of culture, gender, race, age, or any other demographic you can think of. Understanding these areas can give you great insights into what your audience actually cares about.

You can find out more by googling Haidt’s work.

5. No one understands what you’re saying.

Researchers have shown again and again that we largely talk past each other – and this effect is greatly exaggerated in copy + content. It can be overcome, but you have to be very deliberate about making sure that people understand what you’re saying, which usually involves (gasp!) actually asking them.

You can find out more about this by googling Elizabeth Newton’s work.