Last week, I told you that sometimes it was necessary to focus people on their failings, insecurities and dissatisfactions in your copy and marketing… even twisting the knife a little to create as much contrast as possible between the promise of your product or service and your prospect’s current situation.
The ancient selling axiom — no problem, no sale — is absolutely true. There are a great many selling situations where you should not be shy about agitating your prospect’s fears and frustrations before inspiring their dreams.
But there is a potential pitfall you need to be aware of …
Success Key #6 – Indirection and Soft Suggestion
It’s human nature to revolt against criticism. We don’t generally like to be reminded of our fears, faults and failings. Often, we put up walls against those who try to point them out to us.
You, as a coach, consultant, advisor, agency, service pro or solution provider may not wish to put yourself in such a position. You may want to build a bridge of rapport, not a wall of alienation. Fortunately, there is a proven formula that allows you to slip in under the radar and accomplish both goals.
Ironically, this method flies in the face of what you may have been led to believe…
One of the first things you learn in copywriting 101 is to write predominantly in the second person. The late, great copywriter Ted Nicholas had a little litmus test that goes something like this: Go through your copy and count the number of times you see the word “you” and derivatives thereof, and compare that with the number of times you see the word “I” and derivatives thereof, and then eliminate as many of the latter as you possibly can.
The thinking behind this little exercise is sound, at least in theory. It is based on the truth that we are all self-absorbed creatures who love to read about ourselves.
And of course, the word “you” and its derivatives satisfy that need quite nicely. But in practice, writing in the second person can backfire when you’re trying to intensify your prospect’s awareness of a problem.
Suppose you want to open a wound and twist the knife a little in order to focus your prospect on an emotional void in her life that she desperately wants filled. Is it wise to say, “Feel like you’re ready to break down and cry, because no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to keep the weight off?”
Or would it be better to tell a story about yourself and how you overcame the same struggle?
The Amazing Diet Secret Of A Desperate Housewife!
My name is Nancy Pryor. I am 39 years old. I am a housewife and mother of three children. I would like to tell you something personal about myself. One day last September I just broke down and started to cry.
I couldn’t help it. I had reached my breaking point. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown.
It happened one Monday morning right after I got on the bathroom scales to weigh myself …
In these few opening paragraphs, Gary Halbert used the word “I” or a derivative thereof 13 times, and the word “you” appears just once. Yet this ad was enormously successful. Why?
Because the prospect projected herself into the story. She wasn’t thinking about Nancy Pryor when she read Gary’s ad. She was thinking about herself. Gary didn’t come out and tell her how to feel. He used the gentle arts of indirection and soft suggestion to make her fully aware of her sadness and frustration before coming to her rescue with a solution.
Success Key #7 – Matching, Mirroring, Pacing and Leading …
It’s human nature to be self-obsessed. We are all narcissists, absorbed in self-admiration a good deal of the time.
Have you ever noticed how you and people you’re close to have similar tastes? You dig the same music… enjoy the same foods… share the same beliefs and ideologies… maybe even dress alike. If someone were to video tape two of you together, you’d probably be amazed to see you were actually mirroring each other’s body language and speech patterns while you were together.
When it comes to magnetism between people, like attracts like.
Persuaders have known this for centuries and used the art of matching and mirroring to build a blinding rapport with those they wish to persuade. The way to entice people out of their shells is to become like them, in fact a mirror image of them. People truly love themselves, but what they love more is to see their ideas and tastes reflected in another person.
Hypnotized by their mirror image, they relax, and become open to you. Soon it becomes easy to begin leading the dance, and taking them in the direction you desire.
The same dynamic holds true throughout the entire funnel, in copy and graphic design, when enrolling a new client, everywhere and anywhere. The words and images you use should echo back to your ideal prospects their own pre-existing ideas, biases, and opinions. You must appear to be one of them, communicating with them in their own words, and portraying them in ways that are complementary and comfortable to them.
Only by meeting your target prospect on this common ground, can you begin to build upon their existing pre-conceptions and self-perceptions, molding them gradually to where you need them to be.
Success Key #8 – The Forbidden Fruit
Most of the time, people maintain their self-control and a certain degree of discipline when it comes to the satisfaction of their myriad desires. It is a great myth that people do not want to spend money. They love to spend their money on things that make them feel good.
But if they were constantly giving in to every attractive exhortation they would come unglued. They usually win the struggle. But it doesn’t come easy. Temptation is everywhere!
They read about people who have more than they do… see others having adventures they’re not… and hear about people who’ve achieved more than they have. Naturally, they’re envious, and this creates a constant tension. It is hard for them to repress their desires.
What people secretly want is to throw off the shackles of prudence and give in to temptation. Your task is to hold forth a unique kind of enticement, something particularly potent that allows them to throw caution to the wind.
And one of the most powerful ways to do that is to hold out the promise of forbidden fruit. People are perversely excited by what they cannot or should not have.
Tell them someone (a common enemy) is trying to keep them from something… or that they will have to somehow qualify to become worthy of obtaining it… or that it is normally outside of their reach for whatever reason… or even that it may be somehow dangerous for them to have it… and they will want it all the more.
Success Key #9 – Fascination and Surprise
In my hand, I hold an ancient book. It is a family heirloom at least 100 years old. The leather binding is worn, the pages are brown, particularly around the edges, and when I open the book to read it, there is a slight mustiness that wafts up into my nostrils. Its contents were compiled over a thousand years ago from stories even more ancient.
Inside this book are 1001 tales told by a beautiful young woman. With the telling of each story, her life hangs in the balance.
The book is called The Arabian Nights. The story begins with a king who discovers his wife plotting with a lover to kill him. He has the pair executed and decrees all women are unfaithful. Each night thereafter, he takes a virgin as his new bride, and has her executed at dawn.
Eventually, the King’s Chief Minister cannot find any more virgins, and so he must offer his own daughter. Her name is Scheherazade.
Scheherazade escapes her fate by telling the King a story that culminates in a cliffhanger at dawn so he will postpone her execution out of a desire to hear the rest of the tale.
She does this night after night, keeping the King in constant suspense. When one story ends, she quickly starts up another, and keeps this up for 1001 nights. On the final night she presents the king with three sons. He is convinced of her fidelity, and her life is spared. She becomes his Queen.
As a marketer, you are like Scheherazade. You must continually titillate the curiosity of the marketplace. The moment people think they know where you are taking them, their interest is lost, and you’re dead. Mystery is what pulls us into the unknown.
Every business transaction involves this kind of anticipation. Indeed every business relationship demands it from one transaction to the next.
Until next time, Good Selling!