Using The 7 Basic Human Emotions in Your Sales Funnel: Disgust

There are 7 basic human emotions: Anger, Fear, Disgust, Contempt, Joy, Sadness, Surprise.

These are root emotions from which all other emotions spring. (Read more about them here). These 7 emotions are at the core of what drives our decision-making.

If you understand these emotions and build your sales funnel around them, you can sell more.


Disgust might not seem like something you would want to put into your sales funnel but it can really work. Like fear and anger, the use of disgust is an effective tool when you want to position yourself WITH your target audience AGAINST some other cause. Therefore, it’s a useful tool to use especially in philanthropic copywriting.

Disgust is a primal repulsion and a desire to push back; it’s not just a gag reflex. The value of disgust in your sales funnel is that it makes your prospects predictable. They are motivated AWAY from disgust, so make sure that you place yourself and your solution in the direction they are going to move.

To use disgust in your sales funnel effectively, make sure you understand exactly what disgusts your reader. Spending too much time focusing on the wrong aspect of disgust may not effectively sell to your audience. I think a good example is to consider the disgust I feel about an outhouse. Outhouses are disgusting and you might think it has something to do with the smell. But that’s only a small, gross part of outhouses. If you wanted to sell me a solution by selling against my disgust of outhouses, you’d have to push deeper in your copywriting and talk about how an outhouse is a pile of festering germs with no place to wash your hands and just because you walk out of it and breathe clean air, those horrible little festering germs are still stuck to your clothing and hair. [Shudder]

Related to the above point, just because something might be gross doesn’t mean it disgusts your reader. Disgust goes deeper than that. Disgust is a primal repulsion. It’s something in our DNA. It’s something in our subconscious. It’s instinctual. An example that illustrates this (at least in my opinion) is the pictures of decayed teeth and tar-filled lungs on cigarette and chewing tobacco containers. These are meant to disgust people into NOT smoking or chewing but they are really just gross and don’t actually achieve the level of primal, repulsive disgust that the pictures are supposed to achieve.

Once you know what disgusts your reader, write JUST ENOUGH to remind them of what repulses them… but don’t write so much that they have to click away. Always keep coming back to the opportunity to eliminate the disgust.

Disgust is a strong enough feeling that people want to eliminate it completely from their lives, not just gloss it over. So when selling the solution to disgust, make sure you highlight how your solution will eliminate the disgust they feel and not just delay or lighten the problem.

Disgust is a great motivator but you need to be careful about what you try to disgust your readers with. Be careful that you don’t disgust them with something that’s part of their own lives. An example might be in the fitness and weightloss field. You might want to sell your weightloss program to someone who is overweight but trying to build a sense of disgust around your prospect’s level of obesity is not the right call. This practice could end up backfiring on you by destroying any rapport you might have with the prospect. The disgust you write about in your marketing collateral should be something that you and your prospect align together on.

Of all the basic emotions, I think disgust is one of the most-underused emotions to draw upon. But if you can find the right target audience, and if you express disgust in a way that really repulses your audience, you can push people through your sales funnel very quickly!

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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