Although as marketers, we can all get caught up in the tactics and chasing the shiny new object – the fundamentals of persuasion and psychology has and will always remain the same.

Yet many of us completely ignore them or have never truly studied them.

Being old-school marketing and advertising geeks, they’ve been at the heart of everything we do.

So, in this edition of Direct Mail Superheroes, I want to share the four different desires that you can tap in-to through strategic messaging and marketing

Some of it may be complex, some of it may sound “woo woo” – but I’ll do my best to make it keep this at a reasonable word count and keep it punchy.

But first, in order to understand the psychology of marketing, you must understand the different kinds of desire.

Because one misconception that a lot of marketers make is the understanding that the success of your marketing comes down to desire that already exists in your audience, not your marketing.

What I mean by this is that as marketers, all we can do is take the hopes, dreams and fears that already exist and focus them on our product/service.

We cannot create desire, all we can do is tap-in to the conversations that are already going on in our audience’s mind, and direct them towards our solutions.

Now, there are only four different kinds of desire that we can “tap” into – from a marketing point-of-view – in order to drive action.

Acquisitiveness, Rivalry, Vanity, and Love of Power

That’s it.

If you can understand which of these desires your product/service taps into, then your audience and message will instantly become clear.

Let’s go through them …


This is the desire to acquire money or material things, mainly fuelled by the desire to be powerful, sexy and perceived as rich.

This is powerful if you can find the right audience and tap into this emotion, it’s why people rush to buy “get rich quick” schemes and it’s why the sales person that sells a £20,000 watch has an easier job than somebody selling a £200 watch.

If you can tap into the emotion of acquisitiveness and define your messages to get involved in the conversation happening in your audiences mind, then the success of your marketing will multiply.


This is the desire to be better, or be more successful than others.

In the b2b world, this is a huge desire – it may be why you’re reading this email– your desire to be better and stay ahead of your competitors.

But this is desire is why the man driving the Ferrari doesn’t feel satisfied, it’s why for some that there’s no “goal posts” for success and it’s what drives us to always be buying/investing in new learning.


This is the motive of immense potency; wanting to be either famous, respected or be seen as important.

It’s why business people pay for fancy offices they can’t afford, or write books and have launch parties that don’t make any financial sense … this desire to be respected and be famous.

From a marketing point of view, this is what your premium brands tap into – they make the customer feel VIP and they focus on experience. 

The Love of Power

This is a big one, it’s similar to vanity but on a different end of the scale.

For people that see themselves as important, this is by far the strongest desire in their lives – they want to be seen as powerful, and they’re always on the pursuit for more power.

This desire is what is behind some of the crazy buying decisions you see the “super rich” make.

It’s why having a premium service that charges 10X everything else that you offer will likely always have a few buyers … these people.

They’re the four.

Understand them, and how your products/solutions meet one of those desires, then you’ll instantly be more clued up than the vast majority

Once you understand what desire you meet, it also allows you to change your marketing messages and be clear on the real reasons why people buy from you.

If you can do this, then you’ll have the deep underlying understanding of your marketing – which you can then apply your tactics to.

Let me give you an example …

With our business, the desire that attracts our clients is commonly rivalry – they want to stay ahead of their competition, they want to be the biggest and the best and they fear falling behind.

Our marketing messages are around being an ‘increasing campaign performance’ and ‘increasing retention’ – essentially staying ahead of the game.

Make sense?

Work out what desire you meet, ensure your core marketing message reflects that … and everything else is just gravy

And if you need help to build the right messaging into your direct mail campaigns to drive performance, then shoot us a reply or give us a call at 01530 215071