Here’s a conundrum.
I regularly read books, solid 300-400 page collections of densely packed words that take me weeks or sometimes months to get through.
According to Amazon, I’m apparently not the only one who does this.
And yet, over the past year or two, I’ve noticed my attention span has been shrinking, just like pop psychologists would tell you.
Now, for me it doesn’t happen with books…
But if I read an article online that’s longer than several hundred words…
Want to be persuasive?
Forget about psychology tricks and tactics.
Have you ever heard the following chestnut?
Supposedly, Sir Winston Churchill was talking to a large and juicy society woman at a party.
And for the sake of argument, the bulldog Churchill asked:
Here’s a paradox for you:
If Gary “greatest living copywriter” Bencivenga says hyped-up marketing doesn’t work well…
Then why do we see so much hypey marketing around?
For example, I just searched for the top-selling products on ClickBank.
Here are a few top-sellers I found. In third place:
When I was 12 years old, I moved from a very unsophisticated horse-and-carriage marketing environment (Croatia in the early 1990s) to a hyper sophisticated neon-and-platinum marketing environment (Southern California in the 1990s).
I remember the effect it had on me.
Every cereal commercial, every movie trailer, every piece of direct mail claiming that I might already be a winner of $10 million…
There’s a scene in the first Lord of the Rings movie where the Fellowship is passing through the Mines of Moria.
It’s a dark maze of caves inside of a spooky mountain, and there are only evil things around.
First, Frodo and company get attacked by hundreds of orcs, and then by a giant cave troll.
These enemies are strong and dangerous, but the good guys manage to fight them off.
However, there’s a bigger, more evil, and more powerful thing lurking in the darkness.
WARNING: None of the ideas that follow are original.
In fact, if you’re well versed in persuasion or copywriting, you probably know the technique I’ll talk about below, and there’s little point in you reading further.
However, if you’re stuck for a good way to catch people’s attention — or you just need a quick refresher — then read on.
Would you like to be more successful in life?
Would you like to persuade others to your way of thinking?
Would you like to send me a check for $100 so I can show you how?
One of the classic techniques of persuasion is called the “yes ladder.”
You just read an attempt with the questions above.
In the 1970s, the Hare Krishna learned a powerful lesson in persuasion.
They were seeking to raise donations to support their organization.
At first, they would stand around street corners and ask passersby for money. But most people considered them strange and unlikeable, and the donations were slow in coming.
Then the Hare Krishna hit upon a great idea. They would first press a gift — a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a magazine, a flower — into the hands of a potential donor.
Even if the person didn’t want the gift, which happened often, the Hare Krishna would refuse to take it back.
“It’s our gift to you,” they’d say. “However, you can help us out by making a small donation to support our activities.”
Donations, altough unwilling, started pouring in.
At the start of his book Influence, persuasion expert Robert Cialdini tells the story of a friend who ran a jewelry store.
The friend was trying to get rid of some turquoise stones, which weren’t selling.
And after many failed attempts at promoting the the unmoving turquoise, Cialdini’s friend finally decided to slash the price.
“This price x %,” she wrote on a note to her assistant before leaving town for two weeks.
When she got back, the turquoise had indeed sold. The only catch was, it didn’t sell because the price had been reduced some x%.
The assistant misread the note as “This price x 2” and doubled the prices.