25 Psychological Triggers That Get People to Buy

How legendary copywriter, Joe Sugarman, used these triggers in his copywriting.

Benjamin Watkins
5 min readFeb 7


An advertisement written by Joseph Sugarman

Joe Sugarman is one of the most legendary copywriters.

He once sold a $240,000 airplane in a single mail-order ad. In his most popular book, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, he shares 25 “psychological triggers” that get people to buy.

This book helped shape my copywriting career more than any other book.

Here’s a breakdown of each psychological trigger and a quote from The Adweek Copywriting Handbook.

1. The Feeling of Involvement or Ownership Sugarman

“Make readers feel that they already own the product and you’re letting them use their imagination as you take them through the steps of what it be like if they already owned it.”

Make the customer use the product before they purchase it.

Make them imagine it’s theirs by using it.

2. Honesty

“Consumers can tell whether people are truthful in what they are trying to communicate.”

Sugarman was so honest, he once wrote an ad for a digital thermostat that said:

“It had no digital readout, an ugly case, and a stupid name. It almost made us sick.”

3. Integrity

“Show integrity and your advertisement will be well-received.”

Sugarman believed integrity came down to 3 things:

  • The look of your ad
  • The image that you convey
  • The typeface that you use

4. Credibility

“Credibility means truthfulness.”

Honesty and integrity make credibility. Sugarman believed you needed to avoid these 3 things if you want to build credibility:

  • Rash statements
  • Cliches
  • Exaggeration

5. Value and Proof of Value

“Copywriters want to convey value through comparison.”



Benjamin Watkins

Copywriter — Founder of ThisIsCopy.com. Four kids and an amazing wife. Word strategist. Building a writing community.