Think the colors of “The Dress” are interesting?
What if you could smell and taste emotions, temperatures and words?
What if every smell you inhaled instantly triggered a string of memories that were forever associated with that particular smell? (Not to mention every cross-linked emotion you associated with that smell.)
For me “mosquitos have always smelled like ice,” and laying by the warm fireplace tastes like bitter acid in my mouth.
I have synesthesia, and the rarest of kinds.
My sense of taste and smell are linked with many other senses including hot and cold, fear, anger, sadness, pain and so forth. I even have acute sensations associated with different words.
Every smell means something different to me, and emotions take on their own flavors, literally.
Synesthesia, Math & Copywriting
For as long as I can remember, writing and math have always been two of my most favorite things. But for me, they’re not exclusive.
The great copywriters like John Caples, Oglilvy, Sugarman, etc all emphasized the importance of viewing copywriting as much of a science as an art. However, I’ve always perceived copywriting and languages as some kind of mathematical equation.
I’m not sure if it’s the synesthesia or a coincidence that I connect copywriting with math, but I do know I naturally perceive the world as a series of patterns. Learning new languages like Japanese, Korean, Arabic or Cantonese was never an art or right brain activity for me, but instead something more robotic and mathematical like a computer.
I don’t know if this is good or bad, but it is what it is.
Whenever I’m writing copy–for a blog post or one of our clients’ cold email campaigns–there’s always a right and a wrong. Before I even start writing, I already know there’s an optimal configuration of words and sentences that I need to aim for. My only challenge is to make the paper match the equation I see in my mind, and so copywriting is really more like deciphering a code inside my mind than a freeform experience.
My mind knows there’s a correct order of words to convey the strongest emotions to create the most persuasive copy, and anything less is imperfect to me.
Sometimes this drives me crazy because I can’t quite get the paper to match the formula I see in my head, and so I obsess for days and hours until it’s perfect.
My Synesthesia & Math Driven Copywriting Formulas
It’s a little bit hard for me to deconstruct my own thought processes and reverse engineer my mind to understand my own copywriting equations, but I’m working on it.
Here are a few things my mind regularly focuses on when making decisions around my copywriting:
- Positive or Negative? (What emotion do I want to elicit with my message? Do I want to propel people with fear or honeypot them with desire? Great email campaigns often alternate between positive and negative emotions.)
- Minima, Maxima, or Average? (Once I’ve decided if I want to convey a positive or negative sentiment, I then decide how extreme or not I want to be. Do I want to have a powerful Call To Action that everyone will respond to, and risk getting unqualified leads or scaring off more timid people, or should I be more gentle and incept ideas into my readers’ minds?)
- Direct or Indirect? (Should I be aggressive and direct, or should I be gentle and try to “honeypot” the reader? There’s a time and a place for both, but my email campaigns usually start more gently and become increasingly more direct over time.)
Once I’ve determined which effect I want to give my reader, my mind works backwards like “reverse induction” used in game theory.
I first choose the pattern/structure of the copy I want to create. I have many formulas I use for my email campaigns and copywriting. Before writing a cold email campaign I architect the general order of emotions I want to evoke. Once I’ve decided the emotion for each touch-point of my 8 emails, and then I start crafting them.
For every email I can choose from a number of patterns in sentence structure based on the effect I strive to create based on the 3 decisions above. After that all I have to do is find the right words to match those patterns. I’m fortunate that my mind naturally assigns numbers to every word on a positive/negative scale based on the intensity the emotions those words evoke.
Here’s an example of how my mind scores some words:
I score them this way based on how negative or positive I perceive the connotations of these words to be (in most scenarios–their connotations could change in some cases). Notice that I have scoring systems for nouns and not just adjectives.
Once I’ve weaved together my beautiful pattern of words to create the right emotions I’m attempting to elicit, I pause and review everything on a macro and micro level to make sure it’s correct, reviewing the formulas in my head.
I smell the joy of success and accomplishment every time I create a perfect pattern of copy.
So now you know the “big secret” behind my copywriting and cold email campaigns…. (Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone!)
PS: “The Dress” was orange and blue to me.