Do You Believe?


“The Triumph of Hope Over Experience”

Dear Business-Builder,

Without it, there would be no second marriages … no cheering crowds behind Hillary, Obama or John on the six o’clock news … and of course, no Las Vegas.

The fact is, no matter how cynical, negative or worldly-wise each of us wants the world to think we are, all of us want to believe. Desperately.

And the simple fact is, hundreds of billions of dollars are earned each year by marketers who do little else but:

  1. Identify a deep-seated desire that is resident in a particular market niche,
  2. Create a promo that suspends their prospects’ disbelief and
  3. Step back and allow the prospect’s desire to believe to do the rest.

Take Vegas, for instance. We all know it’s the world’s greatest fleecing machine. We know that there are no games of chance there – that the odds are heavily weighted in favor of the casinos.

And yet even those of us who never expect to beat the house happily fork over thousands for travel, lodging and food – and then blissfully lose thousands more at the tables, knowing from experience that we’re being played for suckers.

Now I ask you: Is this anything a sentient, self-respecting, intelligent creature would do?

No. And that’s the whole point.

We are NOT sentient, self-respecting intelligent creatures. We only tell ourselves that we are. The truth is, we are driven by emotion. We only use our thinking brain to rationalize those emotional decisions after they’re made.

Think that’s an overstatement?

Don’t tell me, tell one of my former crackerjack copywriters. A while back, she found a medical study you should consider …

Seems some people who suffer minimal brain damage retain their cognitive ability – their ability to reason – but lose their ability to feel any emotion. And when a major medical institution studied these poor souls, they found something fascinating …

When deprived of their ability to feel emotion, these still-intelligent, rational, thinking people were incapable of making ANY decision. They couldn’t even decide which shirt to wear … what to order in a restaurant … or how to manage their money!

I’m thrilled we found that study. Because it proves beyond the shadow of a doubt something I’ve been talking and writing about for years:

If we made our spending decisions on the basis of logic, nobody would buy a new car – suffering the massive depreciation that slams you when you drive it off the lot. Heck: We wouldn’t buy any kind of car – new OR used – for that matter. We’d all be riding the Metro. Or the bus. Or a bicycle.

The same is true about designer clothing … makeup … expensive watches … high-calorie food with low nutritional value.

And who in his right mind would spend more than a few hundred bucks a month on a place to live – especially in these days of plunging home values?

Frankly, I’d be hard-pressed to think of much that we spend money on that makes any logical sense at all. We buy them simply because we want to believe.

We want to believe – so desperately – that these things will make us feel more confident … more successful … more secure … more fulfilled … happier … that we spend our entire lives mindlessly pursuing them.

Just get up early tomorrow morning and turn on CNBC – or just about any cable channel that runs infomercials at night – and you’ll see what I mean.

Put on your thinking cap, now …

If I told you there was a non-prescription pill – made entirely of vitamins and minerals – that will grow hair on a cue ball. Would you believe me?

Preposterous – right? After all: If vitamins and minerals reversed male pattern baldness, only anorexics and bulimics would lose their hair.

How about “the size of a certain part of a man’s body?” Would you believe that a few vitamins and minerals will magically transform a water spout into a fire hose?

Wouldn’t obese guys be the most “blessed” of all?

What? You don’t believe this stuff? You know what? Nobody does!

But you know what else? There’s an infomercial on TV that’s generating millions and millions in sales for an all-natural hair-regrowth product and another that’s making some scam artist rich selling vitamins that make your thingy bigger.

Why would anyone with an IQ larger than his shoe size buy such an obviously stupid product?

Because we desperately want to believe. We want to believe so much that a few simple testimonials and/or a floozy batting her false eyelashes at us causes us to suspend all disbelief and crack open our wallets.

You don’t have to prove your case beyond the shadow of a doubt. But you do have to give your prospect an excuse he can give his spouse for spending the money. A reason why – although he’s surely a sentient, intelligent person, it was logical to suspend his disbelief – just this once.

Hope this helps – I’m going to spend some time brushing up on my basic Blackjack strategy now …

Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Clayton Makepeace Signature
Clayton Makepeace
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE

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13 Responses to Do You Believe?

  1. Anne Grey says:

    Great article, Clayton. I had a good laugh with this one! But you gave a fantastic piece of copywriting wisdom: “…give your prospect an excuse he can give his spouse for spending the money.” I love it!

  2. Yoav says:

    Clayton,

    I’ve been following the total package for years now, and every once in a while you just amaze me.

    This is one of those times.

    While reading, I suddenly had an epiphany on how to sell my really boring training product by using the my customer’s resident emotion. It has the potential to totally transform my business. Thank you.

    Quick question … would you use the resident emotion only in the sales copy or would you infuse it into your auto responder messages as well?

    Yoav

  3. Conrad says:

    Hmmm … so Clayton, does this mean that there must be something in a boutique that causes temporary brain injury – and this is the reason I had to watch my wife try out 19 outfits – none of which she could decide on? Does one have to inject emotion into this situation? (I had some emotions, and these did indeed become stonger over time, but not those that would have resulted in a sale being made).

    I guess a sales letter won’t work here? Useful study though.

  4. Dannie says:

    What is the source of that medical research?

  5. John says:

    A great reason to answer WIIFM:

    “Because we desperately want to believe. We want to believe so much that a few simple testimonials and/or a floozy batting her false eyelashes at us causes us to suspend all disbelief and crack open our wallets.”

    I’m going to stick that beside my monitor to keep me focused.

    Thanks :)

  6. ken c says:

    Hi Carlton,

    Good points, I like to build those “reason why” mental bridges to suspend disbelief, I like your points in your courses re developing fascinations and sidebars and other proof elements to make that happen in copy. I’ve found best response when there’s a believable “bridge” to suspend disbelief (damaging admissions, “I used to make the same mistakes myself” and other comments before showing solution/pitch/sales ‘turn’).

    And re vegas, I had to chime in on that… when I was at Mandalay and Bellagio last November I spent 43 hours during a week in Vegas playing blackjack, walked out up (no losses) and had a blast… I play scratch blackjack using Andy Bloch’s (fmr MIT blackjack team captain’s) basic strategy as found here (great dvds there btw http://www.expertinsight.com/_Blackjack.html ). Also wizardofodds.com a great site for casino players. I always sit at first base and outlast hundreds of players, just using the right basic strategy. I never count, as I always want to be welcome in casinos (can’t anyways vs shufflemasters).

    I play blackjack for fun, hold ‘em to make $. btw the #1 basic strategy error is they don’t hit 16s, #2 is incorrectly playing soft hands like A2 vs dlr 10. I learned the hard way, that using the right basic strategy is everything. Like copywriting and life in general I guess.

    to profits,

    -k

  7. ken c says:

    oops typo should be hey ‘Clayton’… haven’t had my morning coffee yet

  8. Tom Jones says:

    I like to refer to this as “rational-delusion”.

    Another great synthesis, thanks Clayton.

    Best Wishes,

    Tom

  9. Alecs says:

    Great article, Clayton.Copywriter argue the reverse logic ahead of emotion. We look forward to continuing this topic.

  10. Anita says:

    Gosh Clayton,

    You got my hopes up when you said this-

    “Seems some people who suffer minimal brain damage retain their cognitive ability – their ability to reason –but lose their ability to feel any emotion. And when a major medical institution studied these poor souls, they found something fascinating …
    When deprived of their ability to feel emotion, these still-intelligent, rational, thinking people were incapable of making ANY decision. They couldn’t’t even decide which shirt to wear … what to order in a restaurant … or how to manage their money!”

    I thought you were going back to the good ‘ole days when you’d give those Lefties your unstoppable Right hook! :D

    Great article none the less!

    A

  11. Rick says:

    Clayton, thank you for your clear explination. I like Yoav have a product which I have tried to sell using logic and scientific research. Ironically my product is most effective when my customers (athletes) stop trying to analyze, and just allow themselves to “feel”. I now will change my approach and appeal to my customers emotional side.

  12. robert says:

    Great learning post…Would I be wrong in saying there’s to many of the word “That(s)” in the copy because as I have been told to keep ALL copy void and free as possible of the word “That “…Did I learn (That) this tip from you Clayton?

    P.S That’s 18 thats…

    P.P.S No I’m not picking at bones…I’m just learning the copy writing trade and greatful to you and your red head wife for giving me a helping hand which’ll push me forwards to my goals in life…

  13. Thanks for another inspiring post Clayton. People are very emotional beings. From the time we are born to the time we die we all have emotions throbbing through our veins. We can pretend to be logical – at times if we want something we will justify with what almost sounds like logic. When in reality we simply wanted it.

    “Frankly, I’d be hard-pressed to think of much that we spend money on that makes any logical sense at all. We buy them simply because we want to believe.”

    All of us need to believe in something, someone or a dream. That belief helps keep people afloat of the raging storms in life. When stuck in a flood, that tyre drifting pass could hit you, you see a branch in a nearby tree – grab with all of your strength and hang on to be rescued. Even when you are exhausted beyond what you think you can bear, you hang on because you believe.

    “The fact is, no matter how cynical, negative or worldly-wise each of us wants the world to think we are, all of us want to believe. Desperately.”

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