Do Thoughts Come Before Feelings, And Does It Matter to Copywriters?

Did you know that it’s axiomatic in the direct marketing world that thoughts create feelings?

And that it’s not the other way around?

Feelings don’t create thoughts… thoughts before feelings.

I must confess that over the years I’ve accepted this as true.

And I’ve allowed this “truism” to serve as a foundation of my creative concepting whenever convenient.

For instance, if I’m selling a weight loss product, I might logically say to myself, “I will attempt to influence my reader to think about a time in their youth when they felt lithe and beautiful.”

I might use the magic word “imagine” in order to direct them to form a picture in their mind.

My intent is to have my prospect “imagine” a thought that leads to a picture that leads to intensely good feelings… and then I can deftly transfer those good feelings to my product, increasing my chance of a sale.

So in this context I do believe that thoughts can precede and influence feelings — especially if you plan it that way.

But in looking online for validation, I find we are far from consensus on this topic.

Let’s say I have a sudden sharp pain in my stomach that doubles me over. I then think “I’d better see a doctor!”

So in this case a thought came after (or was caused by) a feeling.

Yes, it’s a physical feeling and not emotional — at least not initially — but the point is man jumping

Does it matter if thoughts come before feelings?

Yes, it does if you’re a copywriter, sales professional or entrepreneur whose focus is on sales.

One thing we all agree with is that emotions are more powerful that thoughts (logic) as a tool of influence.

People don’t buy a Jaguar because it’s a well-made car. They buy it because it looks good. It’s sexy.

And while people who buy business solutions (B2B) are thought to buy based on logic to a degree, in the end emotions do come into play:

“Will I get fired for this?”

“Will my boss notice how smart I was?”

“How can I get the hell out of here before the shit hits the fan?”

As you find yourself in situations this week where you could benefit from the power of influence, consider the marketing wisdom that “thoughts create feelings.”

How can you stimulate thoughts that lead directly to the emotions you’d like your prospect to have?

Then how can you “bridge” that emotion to the product or service you’d like to sell?

As you write copy this week, ask yourself what feelings you want to stimulate, and then what thoughts you need to create for those feelings to happen.

About the author: Chris Marlow

Chris Marlow is a direct response copywriter and the original copywriters coach, teaching client acquisition skills and marketing since 2003.
Chris’ focus is 100 percent on lead-generation, sales, and ROI. Chris is always and only about the bottom line and excels at direct mail, lead-generation, white papers, marketing training, online marketing, and getting “buts in seats.”
Chris Marlow helps copywriters too.
An expert at niche development, Chris helps copywriters find or create niches that fulfill financial goals, feed passions, and that align with personal values.
Chris also helps her copywriters develop secondary income streams through information publishing and coaching. Chris’ program seeks to create copywriters who are thought leaders in their niche. 
An award-winning copywriter with over two decades of successes, failures, and hard-won experience, Chris is the copywriter’s advocate.
Noting the absence of pricing benchmarks for copywriters, Chris published the world’s only statistical pricing benchmarks for copywriters. Chris is also creator of the most comprehensive business-coaching program for copywriters, the MARLOW Marketing Method™ for Copywriters. 

Chris now has a membership site for “Marlowites” — students of her program, at: