Category Archives for "Persuasion"

Cooking Up Persuasive Copywriting with These Two Crucial Ingredients

On Friday I wrote about Copywriting and the Art of Persuasive Advertisings and in other articles I go into detail the help you craft successful, lead-building, client-accumulating mail, ads, emails, web sites and more.

But here are two of the common and most powerful copy ingredients for effective direct response marketing, regardless of medium.

The One Thing You Cannot Forget

It seems so obvious and basic that you can’t imagine anyone would fail to do this, but I have to say upfront because writers frequently and regretfully neglect this point: Present your offer–the thing you are selling and the terms you’re making–as soon as possible.

And after you say it once. Say it again. And again.

Copywriting is like storytelling. You create drama. And you can create drama one of two ways:

  1. Demonstrate how you can achieve their desires
  2. Show how you can conquer fears

But in one very important way, direct response copy is not like a story…you give away the end at the beginning. That is the offer.

Even when you have a lot to say about your offer, you bring the conclusion [your offer] into the story right away.

And then backfill with persuasive material as you move along.

How to Achieve Your Greatest Desire

This is a a rough sketch of a marketing strategy when you’re making an offer for something desirable, such as a beautiful home or knowledge about the worth of their home.

1. Show the readers the vision.

Within the headline or the opening copy, tell the reader about the benefit: living well, saving money, entertaining grandly.

2. Offer the “prize” inside.

Either within the same headline or within the first few lines of copy, introduce your offer as the means for obtaining the desired end: the infinity pool that makes you to live well, the low property taxes that allow you to save money, or the finished basement with wet bar and 50 inch plasma screen.

3. Go on the quest.

Show the reader how and why your offer, in Step 2, fulfills the desire in Step 1. And bee sure to restate the offer along the way.

Now, the flip side of desire is fear. That’s the other persuasive ingredient of successful copywriting.

Overcoming Pain and Fear

This is the formula for benefits that help you overcome things you don’t want, such as high taxes, foreclosure, drop in property values, ill health or being left behind:

1. Make the readers hurt.

Describe the pain to be avoided: the rising property taxes, the crush on their credit if they foreclosure, loss of equity of they don’t move, diseases from contaminated soil or being the only one who didn’t invest in a rising market.

2. Show readers the cure.

Introduce your offer–the market with low tax dollars [maybe a way to lure people from one state to another], short selling, healthy lifestyle in your city or system to sell their homes fast for the most money.

3. Prove it works.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Your lofty promises better be backed up. Use testimonies, statistics, reports, anecdotes, professional statements. Anything you can get your hands on that support your claims.

Without evidence, your claims will be ignored. So do your homework. It will pay dividends.


One more word: In each of these approaches, it’s important that you repeat the offer often.

The reason? You want people to remember it.

In the next post, I’ll describe how to write good offers, offers that articulate the favorable consequences of accepting your offer and the undesirable consequences of doing nothing.

See you then.

Political Pollster Spills the Beans: How to Find Those Hidden Desires

Republican pollster and strategic researcher Frank Luntz advises politicians on the language they should use to win elections and promote their policies.

Here’s how you can use his secrets to work with more clients…sell more houses…and grow your business.

His Work Proves One Very Important Point

Although he works on one side of the aisle, he says that what he does is essentially nonpartisan, seeking clarity and simplicity in language.

His critics disagree…and have accused him of using language that misrepresents policies to “sell” them to the public. Frank Luntz is the author of Words That Work.

But whatever you think about Luntz, what he does proves one very important point: it’s not about what you say…it’s about what they hear.

That is, potent persuasion is built around finding and using words that hit people at the gut level.

It’s interesting that one little word can have such a influential impact on an entire population…

But it can.

The Most Controversial Word

Take the term “estate tax” for instance.

Before Luntz, this tax was relatively non controversial. Luntz said that only 50% of Americans thought such a tax should be abolished.

What he discovered in his word lab, where he used focus groups and polls, was that when he replaced the word “estate” with the term “inheritance” 60% of Americans thought such a tax should be abolished.

However, with further research he discovered that 70% of Americans wanted the tax abolished when it was referred to as a “death tax.” [via PBS video “Give Us What We Want”

“Death” takes it to a whole new, deeper level…

When people think of “estate” or “inheritance,” Luntz explains that they think of people like Warren Buffet and his billions of net worth…they think of JR and the 70’s television show Dallas.

They think of people who deserve to be taxed…

However, “estate” or “inheritance” puts an emotional distance between people and the real issue. They are cold, unemotional words that obscure the fact that this tax does not occur until you die.

And that is justifiably hard to defend.

But what does this have to do with real estate? Good question.

Heed This One, Simple Piece of Advice

Bottom line, be the person in your real estate market who has their finger on the pulse on what people are saying, feeling and thinking.

And keep this rule in mind: cab drivers and antique dealers know more about the world and what is going on than anybody else. And when the cab driver feels a certain way, you need to listen.

In smaller towns where there aren’t cab drivers, it’s probably owners of the coffee shop or corner deli who know the pulse of your market. Hang out with these people…visit their spaces…and interview people in these places.

And if you want to get real technical, poll people in your community. Or hold informal focus groups.

This rule is built upon a simple idea: It doesn’t matter what you want to tell the public, it’s about what they want to hear.

And you have to find that out.

Discover the Hot-Buttons That Compel Us to Act

Luntz, when talking to clients, gives them one consistent piece of advice: Heed the public will.

And there’s one technique that’s more important than anything else: listening. That’s exactly what you have to do.

You have to listen to what people are saying, how they are saying it, their body language when saying it, where they are saying it and figure out why they are saying it.

I know most of the public is down on real estate agents…so what are the words, the facts, the data that would get people to say, “You know, my real estate agent, he’s okay”?

You have to find those words when working with the public, clients or prospects.

A few, carefully chosen words can make all the difference. These are words that grab our guts and get us to move on an emotional level.

It matters what you talk about. And it matters what you name things. For example:

  • Don’t talk about “energy efficiency.” Talk about “lower bills.”
  • Don’t talk about “square feet.” Talk about “breathing room.”
  • Don’t talk about a “long commute.” Talk about a “rolling university.”
  • Don’t talk about “house.” Talk about a “home.”

How to Get Those Words

When you are with people [and make sure you are hanging out with people from all walks of life, not just a certain strain]…

…talk about a wide range of community subjects…broach controversial topics…and watch people nod there heads and look at each other.

When they all do that at the same time…at that point you’ll know that you’ve struck an emotionally charged issue that people are willing to fight for.

At that moment…that is your Eureka moment. Those are the words that you want to use, those issues. Those are the words that resonate with those particular people.

And don’t forget, just like fire, use those words for good and not destruction or ill gain.

Are You Making This Persuasion Mistake?

If you’ve ever wondered what The Bridge on the River Kwai, psychotic strangers, Abraham Maslow, concrete rebar and flaky surgeons have to do with persuasion and sales skills then you’ll want to read this…

The Surprise Hero of the Story

In the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai Alec Guinness plays the part of the British officer who is tortured by the Japanese to force his men to build a bridge that has military value to the Japanese.

Guinness finally consents when he thinks that perhaps allowing his men to build the bridge would be good therapy for them.

His men on the other hand think its some kind of trick. They think they are supposed to sabotage the bridge. What they don’t understand is the mindset of this British officer.

Guinness plays a character who takes pride in his country, his army, his work. Delivering anything less than the best is not in his thoughts. In fact, he wants to prove to the Japanese that the British build the finest bridges in the world.

The interesting turn in the story occurs when an American solider arrives trying to destroy the bridge. Alec Guinness fights to keep the solider from blowing up the bridge, a bridge that is helping the Japanese fight the Americans.

Now let me ask you: who’s the hero of the story?

It’s not William Holden. It’s Alec Guinness. Why is that?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow years ago presented an idea known as the “heirarchy of needs.” In his representation of this hierarchy of needs, he’s set up a pyramid:

1. Survival

2. Security

3. Social

4. Self-Esteem

5. Self-Actualization

The idea is that through life you gradually work your way up that pyramid.

As a baby, your only concern is food, water, sleep. As you get older, you realize that your parents and the house you live in protects you. About age 3 you understand that the world does not revolve around you. About 13 you kind of return back to yourself, craving to feel important, to be independent.

And finally, you want to have purpose. Not only that, but you want to achieve all of your dreams. You want to burn up, not burn out.

Later in his life, though, Maslow added to more needs: the need for consistency and the need for order.

This is the answer to why Alec Guinness is the hero of the Bridge Over River Kwai.

He’s a person that is consistent and predictable. He has a set of values that he does not waver from.

In fact, if you remember, in the early part of the movie you see this as he endures enormous torture from heat and isolation, but never backs down from his original statement. It’s not until he’s relieved and allowed to determine their fate.

This means he’s a person who can be trusted.

How This Applies to Real Estate

Imagine if this happened to you:

A surgeon says, “Sorry to say this, but you are going to need a quadruple bypass surgery.”

And you say, “Can’t we just do a double bypass?”

He then replies, “Alright, we’ll do a double and see how you do after that.”

How secure would you feel after that?

The same applies in business and persuasion. In fact, a huge part of persuasion deals with consistency.

The rule of thumb is this: we tend to trust the people who are reliable, consistent and predictable.

Say you live in house on a street with just one other house. You’re not going to trust the total stranger who moves in there until he demonstrates he’s stable, consistent or predictable.

If he proves himself to be off his rocker or strange or unpredictable, do you think you are going to trust him if he comes over and says, “Hey, can I borrow your car? I need to run to the store.”

I hope not.

Neither should your clients trust you if you blow off phone calls or cave in at every suggestion. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get them to agree with anything you suggest.

I find it impossible to respect, let alone trust, someone who is flaky, shallow or weak. What about you?

On the flip side of it, demonstrate that you are a person of consistency and you will have people eating out of your hand [okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get my point].

Consistency in behavior, especially in difficult or tense times, is the biggest part to influencing people.

That’s why it’s so imporatnt to figure out what you stand for, what your values are, what makes you tick, what ticks you off.

Create that marketing plan, dust off that personal mission statement.

Then it’s important to get a backbone as rigid as rebar. If you want to be a person of influence then you need to have what it takes to stand the heat.

If you don’t, then you are making a big mistake.

Expect people to walk over you. More importantly, expect to feel like your life is out of control, that you are a victim.

Obsession: A Painful Lesson in Options

When it comes to personal freedom among the citizens of the world’s countries, Americans tend to stand apart.

Germans, for example, are willing to obey strict building codes to preserve the historic beauty of their cities.

Canadians are willing to accept stricter gun control laws for personal safety.

Americans, on the other hand, have an incredible desire for personal freedom, no matter how destructive it may be.

We have a tremendous desire to feel free; we don’t want to feel like we’ve been outmaneuvered and only have one choice
left open to us.

The Lesson

That’s why when you are in a closing situation you should always give the other side two options from which to choose.

The key to the Two-Options technique, however, is that both options must be acceptable to you.

You say, “Well, Jack and Jill, I don’t think that there is any question that you should buy this home…the question becomes, how do we work it out so that you can live comfortably with the investment?”

“Let’s take a look at these two different financing plans and tell me which would be best for you. One is a…”

The takeaway lesson here: never back anyone into a corner by saying, “Take it or leave it, they won’t reduce the price.”

Chances are they will probably leave it.

The Pain

Then again, I’ve been in positions myself where I got it into my head that I had to have something. And I wouldn’t budge. Later I regretted the decision.

Have you ever done that?

And have you ever been in a situation where you saw a client who was hooked and it was obvious no amount of reason could persuade them differently?

At that point, are they truly free?

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9 Coercive Selling Techniques

In the first season of 24, Jack Bauer was coerced into assisting a political assassination, by threat of harm to his wife and daughter.

By threat of blackmail, the five main characters in The Usual Suspects are coerced into paying back a debt to Keyser Soze.

And in The Empire Strikes Back, Lando Calrissian is coerced by Darth Vader into double crossing Han Solo, as bait to trap Luke Skywalker.

As you might have guessed, these are all examples of coercion.

If you’ve been following our blog or subscribing to our newsletter for any length of time, it should be clear to you that I don’t believe marketing or sales should be coercive. I think you’ll know that I think it should be the opposite, meaning it should allow someone to choose freely and willfully.

The fact that some people use influence or persuasion to get money a lot of times puts the idea of selling, marketing and persuasion as evil. Puts a bad taste in their mouth. And yes, of course, persuasion has been abused throughout history. And will continue to be abused.

At some point in time, however, we all use influence to get things in life—time, love, friendship, fame, power, loyalty, and yes . . . money too.

But here’s the irony—persuasion works best when it’s invisible. The most effective influence leaves people with the impression that they have made a completely independent decision based only on the facts.

With that in mind, here are nine tried and true selling techniques that fly under a prospect’s radar, disarm cynicism, and yet still powerfully persuade. You can come to you own conclusions about their level of evil.

•  Reciprocation: People tend to return a favor. Thus, the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing and selling. In his conferences, Robert Cialdini often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethopia in 1937.

•  Commitment and Consistency: If people commit, verbally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment.

•  Social Proof: People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in a late 70’s experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky. Bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. Living in the same neighborhood or subdivision where you are selling homes and sharing that fact with your clients is an example of social proof. This information will immediately make your client feel comfortable with buying a home in that area because they already “know” someone else doing it.

•  Authority: People will tend to obey authority and celebrity figures.

•  Liking: People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. The Guinness Book of World Records listed Joe Girard as the “World’s Greatest Retail Salesman” for 12 consecutive years. What was his secret? He built and maintained relationships.

•  Scarcity: Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying there are only three homes with a particular floor plan available in a new subdivision works. If it is true, of course.

•  Honesty: Try pointing out the flaws of a home upfront, and being brutally frank. In this day and age of exaggeration and fine print, people are so disarmed by simple and intentional honesty that they will pay closer attention to the rest of what you have to say. You’ll have more credibility in the prospect’s eyes when it’s time for a purchase decision.

•  Storytelling: Stories engage a person’s mind and emotions in a way that dry sales text can never accomplish. It’s also something they will never forget. In addition to the literal story that you tell, every good story provides a connotation that allows the reader to draw their own conclusions. And since people rarely argue with their own conclusions…

•  Teaching: When we learn new things, we grow new neural connections in our brains as we expand our knowledge. And brain research confirms that emotional engagement is linked to learning because it helps us recall relevant memories stored in our central nervous system. Teach someone about a homes history, architecture or unique materials–and don’t forget why the material was used–is simply smart selling.

The Art of Persuasion: 10 Essential Tricks Every Agent Should Know

Amazing, isn’t it?

 How when you listen to one of the selling masters you say to yourself “Why didn’t I think of that? It seems so obvious…so easy.”

The masters always seem to come up with the perfect phrase…a few
words…sometimes even just one word…that grabs you by the lapels and drags you into their presentation.

The perfect words make you want to buy whatever they’re selling before they’ve even mentioned a product.

It’s the Art of Persuasion. Right?

But let me assure you right now that it’s less of an art and more of a

The Art of Persuasion is something you can learn. And the good news is the fundamental building block to any good persuasive presentation is simply building rapport.

As the motivational trainer Peter Lowe says, “The three keys to
persuasion are: Establish rapport, Establish rapport, Establish rapport.”

And to build that rapport, you need to cultivate behaviors that will make people trust you and make them feel it’s in their best interest to
follow your lead.

Here, are some ideas, big and small, for making yourself more persuasive:

1. Before a presentation, ask yourself “What do I really want?” Ask
soul-searching questions to understand your true motivation: family,
money, fame, power. You’re looking for what makes you tick, what
drives you.

2. Develop the knack for making the other person feel like the center of the universe.

3. Be quick to compliment.

4. Train yourself to remember other people’s names. One of the best ways: when you shake hands with a new person, note the color of his or her eyes. That forces you to make eye contact and, after a while, will also send a signal to your brain to store that person’s name in your long-term memory. Also use the name soon afterwards, and you’ll have a lock on it.

5. Empower others. Follow the maxims of legendary 3M leader William McKnight: “Listen to anybody with an idea. Encourage experimental doodling. If you put fences around people, you get sheep; give people the room they need.”

6. Try to arouse positive emotion.

7. Take a clue from your audience–whether it’s a single seller or a family of buyers. Really make an effort to communicate in a manner that matches your message to the receiver.

8. Hone your sense of humor.

9. Practice being a better questioner. Follow up by asking, “How does that make you feel?” or “Have you ever experienced anything else like that?” or “How could that be handled differently in the future?” or “I wonder what lessons we can take from that?”

And finally…

10. Keep your perspective. Remember: Even though you’re passionate about your point of view, lighten up. Tomorrow’s another day-and another opportunity to persuade.