Every Snowstorm Reminds Me Of This Persuasion Obstacle

The forecast called for one to three inches of snow. We got six. I dread snow. Sometimes it makes me cry.

Here’s why:

When we bought our house we paid no attention to the big wrap around driveway. Bigger is better, right?. We never stopped to think about the negatives. After four years, I despise it. Each snowstorm means several hours of tough labor. It takes a good hour to clear the driveway, even with my snowblower. Plus, I still need to shovel the walkway. I also need to shovel parts of the driveway where the snow blower falls short.

I thought about hiring someone to clear it for me so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Here’s the problem. I spent a thousand dollars on a snowblower three years ago. How could I justify hiring someone when I have that kind of money already invested?

Why We Stick To Bad Decisions

When I write sales letters I often need to address scenarios where the prospect needs to break a previous commitment or investment. Almost always, that previous investment turns out to be a blunder. They usually hold on to the investment because of a nasty human habit. We hold onto things because of the emotional investment we’ve made. It’s often referred to as sunk cost fallacy.

I fall victim to it myself, even though I’m aware of it. My refusal to hire a snow plow makes no logical sense. Over the past two years I’ve wasted hours upon hours of strenuous work. Several falls on ice, bruises and a lot of tired muscles fail to sway me. Why? Because I am emotionally tied to the investment I made in a snowblower.

The rational part of me should reason:

“This is a lot more work than I expected, even with a snowblower. I should just hire someone to do it for me. The one thousand dollar investment I already made is gone. It should not play into this decision.”

The Key Takeaway

I still fail to look at it rationally. Instead, I struggle to think about how I could justify writing off the investment. The lesson tells you two things:

First, even if you are aware and conscious of your irrational behavior, it still affects you. I knew what was happening. This article lays out my own personal struggle. I still can’t bring myself to just chalk it up to a bad decision and move on.

Second, your customers and prospects will tell you that they approach decisions rationally. They tout cost benefit analysis. Listen to them when they say that, but discount it. They’re still human beings, subject to the same emotional baggage as the rest of us. They may struggle with breaking bad commitments. To get them out of the funk, you’ll need to provide them justification so it squares with their emotional well being.

Finally, like my snowblower story, just because you can provide awareness and justification does not mean they’ll accept it. I’m off to the gas station to buy more gas for the next snowstorm. Can someone knock some sense into me?

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Creativity For Non-Creatives

Writing everyday challenges you to come up with new ideas. When you write everyday you come to the realization that ideas are limitless. I used to struggle with creativity. New ideas felt elusive. About a year or so ago a colleague recommended a book to me. That book changed the way I approached creativity and idea generation.

The Creativity Myth

There’s a surprising secret to creativity. One that may come as a relief to you. You don’t need to invent anything new. Creativity and new ideas don’t come from inventing. They come from combining.

Here’s what I mean.

Every so often I read the classic idea book, A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young. At seventy-five years old, the book still holds relevance. I wouldn’t even call it a book, it’s more like a pamphlet.

In this classic, he details a five step process for coming up with new ideas.

  1. Gather raw materials – a combination of: knowledge of the immediate problem and your general store of knowledge
  2. Working over the material in your mind
  3. Incubating stage – forget about the problem and let your subconscious does the work
  4. Birth of the idea
  5. Shaping and developing the idea

For large problems I like to go through all five stages. For daily writing I find that the first stage drives the biggest results. Combining knowledge of the immediate subject with your general store of knowledge.

What this means is that you combine two existing pieces of information to create one unique piece of information. That’s the secret.

A recent article I wrote here on medium is an example. The article, Thomas Jefferson’s 240 Year Old Persuasion Insight combined my knowledge of written persuasion with something Thomas Jefferson wrote two-hundred-forty years ago. The article runs just over five-hundred words. If I wanted to develop it further I could create something more substantial.

How I Put Creativity Into Action

I had this topic I wanted to write about. I like to include some type of story in my articles. The world sees enough “how to” or list of things articles. I desired something more interesting. I could have told a story about how I experienced it in my own life. Nothing came to mind when I sat down to write so I decided to get creative.

Then it hit me. I remembered reading something on the Declaration of Independence a few days earlier and I saw the connection. I combined the persuasion lesson with the Declaration of Independence knowledge. As a result, I created something new. Two different subjects combined, producing something unique.

Once I formed the idea in my mind, I shaped it (step five) into something consumable for the reader. This article barely topped five hundred words. With additional shaping and developing I could have added more layers.

I’m always on the lookout for experiences, news items, peculiar events that I can combine with real lessons.  That alone gives me an endless stream of ideas.

A quick, simple, endless formula if you struggle with generating unique ideas. If you wish to improve your idea creation skills I highly recommend this book. The language is a bit dated but the ideas are sound.

Don’t want to get the book? Look at my five-step summary above. Start practicing and see what you come up with.

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Cold Persuasion – Ben Franklin Style

In yesterday’s article (part one of this series) I wrote about warm persuasion. That’s my strategy for writing to prospects who already believe what you preach. Today, we focus on cold persuasion.  In the sales and marketing world cold persuasion offers little bang for the buck. If we’re selling body building supplements we want to target body builders. It makes little sense to market to seniors with arthritis.

Sometimes, however, we may want to expand our market to people on the outside. Or, we may want to sway people to our way of thinking, as in political discussions. That’s where cold persuasion comes in. Think of cold persuasion as persuading someone who is cold to your beliefs.

Cold persuasion presents us with a greater challenge. Both require skill. Both require an understanding of what makes humans tick.  The strategies overlap to some degree. Cold persuasion requires one additional skill. Your high school and college writing teachers never taught you this. Maybe that explains why nobody embraces it. Some sales and marketing guru’s talk about the importance of it.  I was lucky enough to have a mentor who taught me this.

Anyone can acquire this skill. In fact, you don’t even have to practice. You can acquire it instantly. One of our heroes from early American history, Ben Franklin made this skill part of his regular practice.

The skill I’m talking about is restraint.

Let me explain.

Our natural inclination is to beat someone over the head with facts, proof and arguments until they submit to our whims. That never works. Nowhere is this a bigger problem than in political writing.

Why Nobody Wins Political Arguments

Look at any political article on Facebook. It’s one side versus the other and nobody ever persuades anyone to change their thinking. Each side will quote facts or data (or at least their version of it) to prove to their opponent the insanity of their belief. Sometimes they don’t even bother to do that. They just post a link to a website that shills to their point of view. They expect their opponent to click, read and and reason:

Gee, thanks for setting me straight. I no longer support that silly view”

Of course that never works. The one who posted the link probably knew in the back of his mind it wouldn’t work. Yet, when we’re caught up in the emotional frenzy of an argument, reason often falls by the wayside. 

Even professional political writers fall into this trap. Almost every political article I read appeals only to those who already support the view. Sometimes that’s intentional. Far left and far right sites play to their base. They know their audience and what their audience responds to. The more they can excite their audience, the more views they get and thus more advertising dollars.

These articles often start off with a hard line assertion in the headline and then lists reasons to support their position.  The person already on board looks at it and says

You’re speaking my language buddy”

While the opposition looks at it and says

“Could you be anymore biased?”

Proof Is Overrated

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible – Stuart Chase

If you’ve ever tried and failed to win an argument you know how true those words are… and not just in sales and marketing.

Instead of laying on the mounds of proof, we need restraint. Show some subtlety. Understand that you don’t have a monopoly on the truth. Poke holes in the arguments of your opposition. Don’t punch holes.

The Ben Franklin “Restraint” Technique

Benjamin Franklin cultivated an interesting practice to his writing. It might be equally useful, even two-hundred-fifty years later. When he wrote a letter to someone he would let loose all his emotions. Then he would throw the letter and start fresh. He understood the importance of restraint. He just needed to unload his emotions first. 

You can start practicing restraint by holding back just a little. Avoid being so direct to the point you tell people what to believe, think or how to behave. Let them draw the conclusion on their own. It takes time. Make your case through stories and not just hard facts. Your audience, unconsciously, turns to assimilation bias and confirmation bias to reject any threat to their beliefs. It takes time, patience and of course restraint. There’s no magic wand.

Sounds like a 180 degree shift from warm persuasion, right? You’re not far off. Writing to your own followers, tribe and believers lowers the hurdle. You can do all those feel good attacks with all the proof you love. In fact, any good copywriter knows that the fastest path to success is to find a crowd who already believes in what you are selling. Then you only need to convince them that you are the best one to provide it to them. 

So here’s my final advice as we wrap up this series. Sell, persuade and influence those already on your team. Stick to warm persuasion. Avoid cold persuasion if you can, but use it if you must.


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Warm And Cold Persuasion. Do You Have A Starving Crowd?

This is a two part series where I discuss the two different kinds of persuasion. Warm persuasion versus cold persuasion. Warm persuasion i is what you should do when your goal is to sell a product or service. Think of it as your prospect already warm to your way of thinking. Cold persuasion  is what you must do if you desire to win someone over to your way of thinking. Think of it as someone cold to your way of thinking

Today, we’ll look at warm persuasion. 

Let’s pretend that you run a business and you have a product to sell. We’ll assume it’s a diet plan. 

If you were given a choice of two people to persuade to buy your product who would you pick?

Person 1: He never bought a weight loss product and doesn’t think he needs one

Person 2: Consistently ten pounds overweight. Tries a new diet every six months

Find Your Ideal Sales Target

From a sales perspective person number two would be your prime target. He already desires to lose weight. He tried other solutions in the past. It’s a safe bet he’ll try new solutions in the future.

To sell person number two, all we have to do is show him that our solution can fix his problem. Compare that to person number one. To sell that guy or gal you must first convince them that they need to lose weight before you even get to why your solution is the holy grail.

That’s a pretty tall order. It’s why one of my first lessons in copywriting was:

“Find a starving crowd”

In other words, find a crowd starving for [some solution]  and deliver it to them. It’s a smaller mountain to climb than creating a product or service and then first trying to convince people they need it. In our example,  our second prospect already desires a weight loss product. Prospect number one first needs to be convinced he needs one. See the difference?

When we sell to people who already believe what we preach, we can be more direct and less subtle. Stoke their dreams. Show how easy is. Offer a great deal. Plus, all the other tools you usually associate with direct response sales.

Think of Donald Trump in the presidential election. His brash, obnoxious style did not win over his haters. Rather, his words tapped into what his supporters already felt. He spoke their language. To borrow my analogy: He sold a diet plan to people looking to lose weight. 

There’s an old saying that people will empty their bank accounts to fix a problem but they won’t spend a dime to prevent it. It explains why we see never-ending ads to cure or treat disease but not prevent them. The same goes for just about anything. How much would you spend to get rid of mold from your house? Now, compare that to how much you would spend to prevent it. Before you find mold in your house you don’t care about it. Once exposed you open your checkbook.

Where Warm Persuasion Fails

What if we need to expand our market or what if we need persuade someone to our side of thinking? In that case, this approach fails. You require a cold persuasion strategy. You’ll find it’s a completely different approach, one which may shock you.  If you struggle with winning political arguments, you’ll want to hear this. Coming to you tomorrow!

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The Fake Scarcity Persuasion Scam

Do you know fake scarcity when you see it? You may not know the label but you’ll know the tactic.

Here’s the story.

In 2013 I bought a house. Built in 1955, it still had the original windows. When we moved in we replaced all the second floor windows. They were in the worst shape of the bunch. A few months went by and we were ready to replace the first floor windows. Like magic, I got a direct mail piece from one of the best window manufacturers. They offered a 40% discount.

“Wow. 40% off high quality windows. I must take advantage of this.”

As I mentioned a few days ago, any kind of promotion should come with an expiration date. Deadlines create a sense of scarcity:

I better act on this now before I lose my chance”

This company did the right thing. They put a two week deadline on their offer and stated that the offer disappears at the expiration date.

Two weeks went by and life got in the way. We never bothered taking the deal. Not the end of the world, I thought. We had a long list of home improvements to get through. They still keep us busy four years later.

About a month later I received another promotion from this company. Again, they offered a 40% discount for two weeks only. Yes, the exact same promotion they ran six weeks earlier.

The Scarcity Scam Revealed

I took no action. My experience with online marketing tipped me off to their scheme. I waited. Again, six weeks later I received the same promotion.

We have a term that refers to this type of persuasion. It’s rampant in the online world, especially in biz op and health and fitness. We call it Fake Scarcity.

Scarcity, when used properly, generates potent interest in whatever you sell. The mere feeling that a product or service is limited by quantity or time fuels desire.

Fake scarcity refers to creating scarcity when none exists. Examples include:

–        Limited quantity of digital products (of which you can produce unlimited quantities)

–        Offering a promotion and stating it runs only for limited time (and then re-run it month after month)

–        Limiting something to a defined time and then giving some bullshit reason why you’re extending it

Fake scarcity paints you as a snake oil salesman. One of those guys who peddles crap through deceit and trickery.

Could You Be a Fake Scarcity Offender?

Most businesses don’t even realize they’re offenders of fake scarcity. Nobody sits around a table thinking “how can we fool our customers with fake deadlines and supplies.” Rather, they see other businesses doing it so they just figure they’ll do what everyone else does.


How To Use Real Scarcity

Fortunately, there are ways to take advantage of scarcity without falling into the “fake scarcity” trap.

First, change up the details for your promotions. For example, the window company could switch up the discount. They could discount only specific types of windows each month. They can even keep the discount constant but change up the bonuses they throw in.

Second, if you give a deadline stick to it. We’ve all seen the online promotions about “technical problems” or “overwhelming demand” as reasons for extending a deadline. You can get away with that once, but when your audience notices a pattern you lose credibility. The fake scarcity feels desperate and nobody buys from desperate businesses.

Finally, a strategy for products with no built in scarcity. If you sell a physical product, the scarcity of supply is obvious. The same goes if you sell your time for coaching or consulting work. What about digital products? Those can be sold in unlimited quantity. The best option is to attach something limited to your unlimited product.

For example, let’s pretend you sell a $97 online course. To attach real scarcity, include a few live QA sessions scheduled for a future date. If they don’t sign up before the live sessions they lose their opportunity to buy. That creates real scarcity by adding real value.

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The Feeble Persuasion Strategy That Scores Big

People feel better about themselves when comparing themselves to those who are worse off. If your prospect feels superior to you, your chance of closing the deal rises exponentially”

My first sales mentor drilled that lesson into me ten years ago.  Now it lives as my secret weapon of written persuasion. Giving your prospect the sense of superiority gives them the feeling of control.  In control, we feel at ease. At ease, we’re more easily persuaded.

When you feel in control, you have power. Nobody can force you to do anything. You own the decision. When you own the decision you feel more commitment to it. In that mindset you will never blame the salesman or marketer for selling you.

When you walk out of the room and the other guy feels he got the best of you… you’ve won. He can  never know that you got exactly what you wanted.”

Have you ever dealt with a salesman who seems too happy after he sells you something? You feel kind of beaten up, right? This happens with online sales too. I once bought an expensive course. The next day this guy sends out an email to his list bragging how he closed three deals without lifting a finger. I felt used. Imagine how I would have felt had he wrote:

Three new people signed up for my new program. I feel so privileged they chose me to take their skills to the next level.”

Now, I don’t claim perfection myself. I kind of screwed up my first promotion.

My First Experience As An Inferior

Two years ago I wrote my first promotion.  a simple course on how to overcome procrastination. My first sales letter bombed. I tried too hard to show my expertise. Remembering the advice from my early mentor, I scrapped the original version. I wrote a new sales letter about a lazy guy who stumbled onto something that works. It made the reader feel superior. It worked. Sales started rolling in.

There’s a few ways we can give our readers a feeling of superiority in our writing.

  • Avoid big words. Use simple language. Fancy verbiage screams smugness
  • Reveal relevant flaws and failures
  • Show that you went through some kind of struggle. Show where you continue to struggle
  • Treat your audience, prospects or customers like it’s a privilege to write for them
  • Avoid condescending or patronizing statements. These can easily sneak into your writing. I actually check for this in my post-writing checklist when I write sales letters.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we beg for business. We don’t write sheepishly. We still exploit the critical tactics and strategies. Persuasion is all about leading your prospect down a path so  she can come to the conclusion you want all on her own. She will only do that when she feels in control.

Making your customer or prospect feel superior and powerful fights our natural instinct. It takes a conscious effort. Like my mentor of many years ago said:

If you’re in this business to get your emotional needs met… find another business to succeed in”

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Fear of losing $2 persuaded me to spend $26.72. How Did They Do It?

Ever lose money gambling? How about misplacing cash and never finding it again? It hurts, right? The pain or anguish from loss feels real even when the loss is small. That fear of loss motivate can motivate you to take action (to avoid the loss).

Take this silly example. Look at how much trouble I went through to avoid losing $2 of fake money.

Here’s the story.

We buy most of our toiletry products from our local CVS. Every so often you earn what are called ExtraBucks. These work like cash. If I buy $20 worth of stuff and hand in a $2 ExtraBuck rebate it gives me a net price of $18.

These are infinitely more powerful than coupons because they are not simply discounts. Nor are they limited to specific products. Instead, they work like cash at any CVS store. 

The Irresistible Nature Of Fake Cash

Those sneaky marketing stiffs at CVS added in one small wrinkle to these ExtraBucks. They gave them expiration dates. Yesterday, I noticed my $2 ExtraBuck coupon was nearing its expiration date. 

“Oh crap, I don’t want to lose out on this” I thought.

,The rest of my life stopped while I considered my options.

What do I need  or what could I use ? Deodorant, mouthwash, floss? Maybe some batteries?” – I couldn’t bare losing out on my measly $2

I took a quick drive over to the store and spent $26.72 after my $2 rebate. As an observer you can see the folly of spending all that money just to redeem a small rebate. As an observer, you can also see why the big chains do this sort of thing. It’s because humans are suckers. We spend $26.72 just to avoid losing $2. Why? We are loss averse creatures. Missing out on a potential gain may sting a bit. Losing what we already own, however, feels like a punch to the gut.

The linchpin that makes these ExtraBucks so powerful is the combination of cash equivalency plus an expiration. Imagine I slapped $100 on a table in front of you and said:

“Take this $100. Spend it however you desire… under the one condition that you spend all of it within 24 hours. Whatever’s left must be returned”

You own the cash. You must spend it in 24 hours or I take it away. How motivated would you be to spend it?

How Marketers Exploit Loss Aversion

Any marketer or business can use loss aversion to drive up sales. Point out what your prospect loses if they choose not to buy. Physical losses like money or property work best. Loss of status and privileged information like secrets, private information, exclusive access also work depending on the market. Avoid pointing out losses for abstract things like self-esteem, confidence or happiness. Most sophisticated markets reject arguments like that. 

You can also use a system like the drugstore and supermarket chains. Offer some service (even a free one) where your customers and prospects can earn rebate dollars. Sharing articles, watching training videos as well as regular purchases can earn your customers the rebates.

Call them whatever you want. Just don’t use the term rebate. Rather, make your label original. Like our drugstore chain, you must include expiration dates. The law of loss aversion then kicks in. Your customers feel the urge to use them to buy your products and avoid losing the cash.

Go look at your own marketing plan and see where you can add loss aversion strategies to your persuasion toolkit.


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Naked Persuasion Lessons From A Questionable Resort

We’re back from our seven day vacation and getting back into our routines. No matter how great the experience, I always love coming home. At 6AM this morning, I got right back into my productivity routine with my 3×5 index cards.

One thing always amazes me when it comes to any experience. Our opinions change over time. Whether good or bad they change. We faced a few challenges over the past week that were not fun as we went through them. Upon reflection, we can’t help but laugh. Here’s a small sample:

  • A dead roach in a fruit plate.
  • A valet stand stationed directly in front of our terrace. Imagine someone always peeking through your sliding glass doors and into your room. Something to keep in mind when you’re naked.
  • Watered down alcohol (even the wine).
  • My two kids facing issues with frequent pooping. I’ll spare you the details.
  • My wife bedridden for the first four days due to a throat infection the night before we left.
  • Being sprayed by a pesticide truck during an early evening stroll.

Time Changes Our Opinions

Experiencing these challenges was frustrating. Reflecting on them brings a chuckle of laughter. Perspectives change. Even your memories change. Eventful experiences often leave more lasting impressions than uneventful ones.

Had we spent seven relaxing days on the beach with no challenges it would be more enjoyable in the moment. Our positive memories, however, would fade with the passage of time.

The old adage: this too shall pass applies to positive experiences as well as negative ones.

A Bad Experience Beats A Forgettable One

A positive, yet unremarkable experience with your product or service feels satisfactory in the moment. Will they remember you six months or a year later? They may, but their opinions will change. That’s why your job as a persuader never ends.

This means, if you screwed up you have a chance to redeem yourself. Make things right with your customer, keep in touch and show how you’ve taken steps to improve.

Don’t think that if you did your job well you’re off the hook. Your customer may not remember their positive experience. Or, more likely, their good feelings may be tempered by the passage of time.

Your customers are most likely to recall the highlights any experience, just like my list above. They also remember the beginning and ending due to the primacy effect.

Most businesses don’t plan highlights into the experience. An unexpected bonus, follow up call, handwritten thank you letter are all simple ideas to create highlights that get remembered. A year later when your customer needs your services again and recalls:

“Oh yeah, I remember using abc company last year. Their customer support was phenomenal. The owner called me up out of the blue to see how everything went”

Deliver memories like that and your customer won’t bother shopping around.

Create highlights. Deliver a powerful beginning and ending. Keep in touch with your customers and remind them of the positive experiences. These three low cost tools make you a better persuader without doing much persuasion at all.

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The Persuasion Brain Simulation

Once upon a time I devised a brilliant business idea. I found myself in the fortunate position of bouncing the idea off of a well respected, successful businessman. I spent a minute or two pitching my idea. He asked me a few questions and then he persuaded me to abandon it.

I failed to appreciate this at the time, but he exploited an almost invisible persuasion tool.  He never once said don’t do this. He never remarked about how silly, stupid or wacky the idea was. Doing that would have violated our first rule of persuasion:

Never tell anyone their beliefs, ideas or values are wrong

The master persuader leads you down a path so that you come the conclusion he wants all by yourself. When you come to the conclusion yourself, your commitment to it becomes airtight. Plus, you can never blame him for tricking you or strong arming you into a decision. That’s exactly what this businessman did. He led me down the path where I concluded on my own that the idea was a non-starter.

The Oldest Persuasion Tool In Recorded History

The conversation with my mentor was verbal,  but it works just as well in written persuasion. It sounds so simple and stupid you’ll roll your eyes at the simplicity. This persuasion tool goes back to the earliest stages of human history. To this day, its power still remains unmatched.

The secret? A story. He told me a simple story. That’s all he did. The story was about someone who had a similar idea, tried it and failed. As I listened, it became clear that I neglected to consider critical pieces. I quickly decided to drop the idea. Had he criticized my idea or flat out told me it was stupid, my ego may have fought back. I may have “rationalized away” his advice or I might have gotten angry and dismissed him altogether.

The Ancient Simulator Software

Communicating through stories offers your audience a way to simulate experiences without having to experience it themselves. Our hunter gatherer ancestors told stories to warn others about dangers. Those who hadn’t experienced the danger could simulate it in their brains and equip themselves to face it even though they never experienced it themselves. That software in our brains remains pretty much the same today.

Once we run the simulation, we evaluate the outcome and come to some conclusion. Here’s the key which often gets ignored. When you use stories to persuade, resist the urge to interrupt the process and dictate what your prospect should do. Let the simulation do its job so your prospect comes to the conclusion you want all on their own.

Before The Story… The Setup

I appreciate that my mentor communicated to me through a story, but he missed one important piece of the persuasion puzzle. Before launching into a story, I first like to use softening statements. Softening statements prepare your prospects to hear anything that might question their sense of certainty. That includes stories that indirectly question your prospects beliefs.

For example, my business mentor could have said:

“Interesting idea. I never would have thought to combine those two disciplines. Nice use of creativity. A peer of mine tried something similar a few years ago. Maybe you can improve on it…”
In written persuasion we write something positive about the current belief, idea or value and then ease into the story while we carefully avoid drawing any conclusions. Then, let your audience run that simulation program in their brain and watch them come to the conclusion you want all on their own.

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With all the tricks and techniques to grab someone’s attention, there remains one concept at the core of many successful campaigns, even more so than big promises. Curiosity. Curiosity leads to anticipation. Anticipation triggers that pins and needles feeling where you absolutely must find out what comes next.

For example, the headline: How to lose belly fat without diet, exercise or surgery

There’s a promise in there of how to lose weight. That you can find anywhere. The key that makes it work is: without diet, exercise or surgery

The curiosity of finding out how to lose the fat without the usual means makes it irresistible.

Standard stuff, maybe. But I bring this up because I am curious about something. On vacation here in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic there seems to be a strange custom. In my world travels I’ve never encountered anything like it before.

What Do You Do With Trash

There are no trash cans in the hotel rooms. You might expect that to be the norm for a twenty dollar a night dive, not a four star rated resort. We’re traveling with several other families and they all shared the same experience. Nobody can come up with a plausible explanation.

Why on earth would you not put a trash bin in a hotel room? Nobody at the hotel seems to know why either.

The difference between the curiosity I’m feeling about the hotel rooms and the curiosity of the weight loss headline shows the right way and wrong way to use curiosity.

When you use curiosity to draw in an audience keep in mind that it needs to be relevant and it should, if possible, hint at some deeper benefit. Curiosity for the sake of curiosity won’t do. In our weight loss example, I listed three common ways to lose weight and hinted that my secret uses something different. The reader thinks “hmm. I’ve tried diet, exercise and even surgery. Maybe this will work. I must know the secret”

If my resort put out a headline “No more trash bins in your hotel room” it creates curiosity but not in a good way. It lacks relevance to providing an enjoyable visit  and no hidden benefit exists.

Let’s apply this to our weight loss example. If I wrote a headline “How to keep off weight like track and field Olympians”, that might create some curiosity but it lacks relevance. Most of us would look at that and think the secrets of track stars don’t apply to me.

Curiosity works. Just use it wisely. As far as the no trash bins in the hotel rooms? I check out of here in three days. Maybe I’ll find out.

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