Imagine how easy marketing would be if you were Obi-Wan Kenobi. Just walk into a tent full of Wookiees, utter a few words, and every one of them would run out, buy a Philips Bodygroom, shave everywhere and come back looking, I imagine, a bit like ZZ Top.
Who among us (unless, of course, you’re female, in which case you can ignore this mainly male fascination and go watch She-Ra on YouTube) hasn’t imagined practicing the Jedi mind trick ever since we saw it in Star Wars. As a kid, you thought about using it on the playground bully. As an adult, about using it to pick up chicks. (Don’t lie; I can sense your deception.)
Of course, the Jedi mind trick would probably lead to pretty dull ads. For one thing, every ad would sound like Sean Connery reading a bedtime story. Short of the Jedi mind trick, however, there are some simple yet powerful linguistic tricks you can use to get more of any action you desire—from getting more clicks to your site to driving more sales when people arrive.
Reprogram Your Copywriting
The tricks—and I use that word with hesitation, because they’re based on a complex understanding of human psychology—come from the world of neurolinguistic programming. NLP may be familiar to you from such people as Tony Robbins, who uses and adapts it to motivate. This controversial branch of psychology has also been adapted to advertising by such people as Lou Larsen and, perhaps less overtly but more famously, Joe Sugarman.
You don’t need to know about NLP to apply the techniques, but it helps. An overview is beyond the scope of this column—and to be honest, I’m less of an expert than an extremely passionate afficionado. Nevertheless, to help you start increasing sales right now, here are five techniques you can implement after completing this article—with self-serving examples for Commune to show that I eat my own dog food (and more examples in the Commune site’s copy if you’re interested):
- Inspire guilt: One of the most, well, devious ways to motivate future actions you desire is to create guilt about someone’s current behavior. A simple trick for this is the pattern “Are you still…?” For example: “Are you still working with copywriters that don’t understand how to apply NLP? Stop wasting your time and money and contact Commune today.”
- Illustrate the future: A more positive use of NLP is to paint a picture of your prospect’s future that connects a desired state with your offering. For example: “Imagine how exciting it will be to see your traffic spike when you work with an agency that understands marketing science.”
- Provide a false dichotomy: Particularly in competitive markets, prospects face many choices. You can spur actions you desire by whittling the choices down to two, creating a black-and-white scenario, and making your choice far more desirable. For example: “Now that you understand the power of NLP, you have a choice: continue doing things the old way, or contact me now to learn how you can use the secrets of psychology to unlock your product’s potential.”
- Exploit group mentality: As social creatures, humans want to be part of the “in” group and never the “out” group. You can exploit this tendency in either direction. For example: “All successful brand managers know that strong copywriting can mean the difference between an award-winning campaign and an embarrassment.” Or in the other direction: “Don’t follow the flock; blaze your own trail and choose an agency that recognizes the untapped power of copywriting.”
- Admit a weakness: But do it to enhance a strength. Why? Because people are more likely to take your second statement as truthful when they perceive the first as honest. For example: “Commune may not be biggest agency on the block. But our passionate team and niche focus allow us to provide a level of service that bigger agencies have outgrown.”
Of course, don’t take my word for it. Go out and try some of these techniques for yourself, and see if they help you increase your clicks, drive up your sales or, hey, pick up more chicks.
Note: I am away until September 4 recharging my creative batteries at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, and won’t have access to the web or email. (I know. How will I survive?) Give yourself permission to comment on this post while I’m away, and I’ll do my best to respond when I return.