The Devil Made Me Do It?
Updated: May 3, 2022
Ever hear of the “3-Step Buying Tier”? It’s kind of the direct-response copywriter’s art in a nutshell.
Basically, it’s just this: emotion leads to desire which leads to action.
The root idea is that a person usually buys based on their emotions. The seller’s job is to stoke those emotions to stir up a strong desire. Given a strong enough desire, they’re more open to be persuaded to do what you want them to do. Namely, to buy whatever product or service you’re offering. Let’s face it, most of us don’t buy only the things we need to survive. Far from it.
When I ran across this the other day, I had a nagging suspicion I’d heard something like this before, but in a different context.
Then it hit me. This is the same path that leads to sin!
James also wrote of a strikingly similar process, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (1:14-15).
The devil knew this going clear back to the garden. It's the oldest trick in the book. There’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to getting us to do something against God. Talk about a tried-and-true tactic!
I wonder, am I using the devil’s own devices in writing persuasive copy? Acting as the tempter? Stirring emotions. Luring people in through desire and—once they’ve bought in an acted out—caused them to sin?
Well, sin has nothing of its own. Nothing original. The devil can’t create anything. All he can do is corrupt whatever God has created and twist it into something for his own evil ends when it was originally created as good. Food is tasty and we need it but regularly overeating is gluttony. Money is necessary but love it too much and you get greedy. Anytime something controls you—other than the Spirit of God, it becomes a sin.
But like food or money or anything else, words are just there. It’s only how they’re used do they become good or bad, build up or tear down. Just as food can nourish and strengthen or fatten and weaken. Money can be given or hoarded. Sin always takes good things to an extreme opposite.
So, yes, the 3-Step Buying Tier can be used to get someone to do something they shouldn’t. But it can also be used positively to get someone to do something they ought to be doing—moderate exercise, sensible eating, giving to the needy, visiting the orphans and widows. One’s motives—the heart—play a crucial role.
So, when I sought to make a career out of using words, I didn’t want to be enticing people with things they didn’t really need or that didn’t work—the next diet pill promising fast and easy results, the luxury car that doesn’t get you any place your current car can’t, a hot tip for making a million overnight, and on and on.
I want to put my talents to use for good causes. My copywriting is a Christian ministry for those who also see what they do as their ministry. To encourage people to do the right things, whether it be giving to a worthy cause or promoting a necessary service from a company with impeccable integrity.