The Greatest Motivator Isn't What You Think—
or, What I Learned From Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler on Valentine's Day
by Dr. Joe Vitale
It's Valentine's Day as I write this. Nerissa and I just returned from watching the new movie, "50 First Dates," starting the beautiful Drew Barrymore and the funny Adam Sandler. Besides being a hilarious movie in a beautiful setting with a heartfelt message of true love, it also caused me to have an "a-ha" right in the middle of it.
Somewhere around half way through the movie, as Adam is again reminding short-term memory loss victim Drew that he loves her, I suddenly realized the power of the greatest motivator of all time.
But let me first set the stage.
Most psychologists, direct marketers, and anyone who persuades for a living will tell you there are only two basic motivators: Pain or Pleasure. You either go toward what you want or away from what you don't want.
The standard argument is that pain is more powerful. I've tended to agree, but also stated I would not focus on pain for idealistic reasons. I simply don't want to spread pain in the world. Focusing on it causes you to feel it. I don't want to contribute to the misery many feel. So my stance has been to focus on pleasure as a motivator in my sales letters and websites.
Most marketing experts agree that pain is the best trigger to focus on in any ad or sales campaign. They love to find a prospect's basic problem, and then rub their noses in it. They figure the pain would make the person buy or change.
The most common example they give is the insurance salesman who tries to sell you home coverage. If he focuses on pleasure, you will put off buying. If he tells you your house is on fire, you will buy. Pain causes immediate action.
So, like everyone else, I "knew" pain was the greater motivator. I simply focused on pleasure because it is a more noble route.
But then I saw Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in their new movie and suddenly I felt awakened, energized, and validated.
Here's the film's plot in a nutshell:
Adam is in love with a woman who can't remember anything from the day before, due to a head injury in an auto accident the year before. Every day is a new day. And every day Adam has to win her over again. Every date is new. Hence the title, "50 First Dates."
At one point in it, as Adam was again wooing Drew, I suddenly realized what I was really seeing.
I saw pleasure was the greatest motivator of all.
Adam was pursuing Drew every day, despite the pain and the odds, because of his growing love for her. He was going after pleasure. The pleasure goal was so powerful it erased every pain he might experience.
In short, all the marketing experts who say pain is the greatest motivator have forgotten the power of our driving force in life: Love.
People will scale mountains with luggage on their backs, swim upstream in a hurricane, and battle armies and all odds in order to fulfill that hard-wired emotion in us to love and be loved. Love rules.
All the examples we were given were unfair. Someone trying to sell insurance and resorting to pain hasn't figured out the real pleasure button to make someone buy. They've been too lazy to search for the pleasure trigger. Focusing on pain was simply an easy cop-out, a handy approach.
It's the same with all the massive ad campaigns that fail. Trying to get someone to quit smoking or stop drugs because of the pain they depict in the ad is the wrong approach. If we suddenly focused on the pleasure someone would have when they stopped smoking or taking drugs, we'd be moving in the right direction.
This is so obvious to me after watching the movie. Our goal as marketing and business people isn't to tell people what's wrong with them or to remind them of their pain, but to help them imagine and then experience the pleasure they long to have.
It's noble, yes, *and* it works.
Love moves everyone.
Love is the great motivator.
Love is the great pleasure trigger.
According to my friend Kevin Hogan, author of "The Psychology of Persuasion," love isn't an emotion but a mindset. And as a mindset, it is actually stronger than any emotion.
In short, you're dealing with the most powerful motivator of all time.
Reveal what there is to love about your product or service and you'll give people authentic reasons to do business with you. Call it Love-Based Marketing. You won't sell everyone with it. You'll sell only those who are a match for your offer. That, in the end, is all you want. Then you're happy and so are your customers.
Just like Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, you'll find a match to write home about.
And you might make a little money along the way, to boot.
Copyright © 2005 by Joe Vitale. All rights reserved.
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