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Psych Insight #13 (Show 1)
Welcome to the show. We’re still getting all moved in here (haven’t decided where to put the bookcase and knick-knacks yet)…
… but it’s a very simple operation: Below is the original Rant which was posted on Facebook some time ago… followed by Kevin’s excellent notes on the show you’re about to hear. You can read along while listening, or give yourself a “preview” of what’s on the menu today before settling down to listen.
To start the podcast, just hit the “play” arrow above. You can listen on your smart phone or iPad, too, which means you’re totally mobile — listen in the car, with earpods on the treadmill or trail, or with headphones while your spouse is watching that dumb TV show again.
The main thing to remember, while checking out this “premiere” show…
… is that we’ve gone far into “advanced” territory here. This isn’t beginner-level insight to salesmanship, but the much deeper stuff that involves understanding the brain and how humans tend to behave in certain situations. It’s great stuff for a rookie to find out about…
… but it’s freaking critical (and useable) advice for veteran marketers and writers (especially when you’re going up against heavy competition and you need extra-powerful tools to close the sale).
Rule #1, however, is to enjoy this show. You don’t need to take notes, you don’t need to follow every storyline precisely, and there will be no test afterward.
We’ve been careful to limit each show to just one or two main points we want to address… and then we go deep into those points. So, while we do cover a lot of territory in the show, we’re actually targeting only a couple of subjects. We may come at these subjects from several slightly different angles, supported by different tales or snatches of info.
But we’re always coming back to the main points.
This show is important because we so often encounter marketers who totally misunderstand how persuasion works… and how it’s different from manipulation, or a con. My whole premise, as a copywriter, is to use every tool in my possession to close the deal… so it’s imperative, for example, to start out with a good product that deserves to be sold.
The nuts-and-bolts of selling are the same, regardless of the quality of the product, however. Because you’re dinging the same parts of the brain with your pitch — and the emotional, intellectual and even spiritual trigger points are often the same whether you’re trying to convince your date to see a certain movie, or you’re closing the sale of a new house. The “science” of persuasion is very consistent, no matter how it’s used.
This show is an in-depth examination of how street-level, salesmanship-oriented persuasion works… and why the ethical ramifications are so profound when you get hip to these skills.
Love to hear what you have to say in the comments. And, if you like the show, please share it with your colleagues and buddies (but not with your competition).
Here’s the Rant this show is based on:
When I began my freelance career, I studied three models: Classic direct response ad wizards (like Claude Hopkins & David Ogilvy), old-school street-wise salesmen (like Abraham & Halbert) and con men (like Barnum, the circus man).
Basic salesmanship psychology is the same for ethical as well as unethical products — establish credibility, increase desire, close the deal. This freaks newbie marketers out, but it makes sense: Con men usually only get one shot at making the sale (because they got to leave town). However, I hope that you rot in hell if you con people.
First rule, always: Start with a damn good product or service. There is zero need to con people. Sociopaths do that because they simply enjoy “gaming” the system. However the “mechanics” of the sale are the same. The human brain needs to be courted and seduced for the sale to happen. The super-effective ways cons establish a sales funnel works for ethical products too.
Click on the “more…” link to see Kevin’s notes on the show…
Confusing persuasion with manipulation reveals a near total misunderstanding of reality of human-to-human coexistence in a complex society.
You’re trying to move folks off their inherently stubborn, almost self-defeating skepticism and reluctance to buy until sold.
People get very confused about that and nobody wants to be seen as that salesman who is pushy and kind of forcing people to make decisions they don’t want to make.
Rookie marketers try to lecture or bludgeon or force people, or at worst they just shout themselves hoarse saying, “This is a great product. Why the hell aren’t you buying it?”
The answer is very simple… more things have to happen in the complex human brain than just saying “Yeah, that’s a great product.”
When you convince somebody that they need your product — because your product can solve their problem — what you’ve essentially done is created a brand new problem for that person, which is, they now have to get over their apprehension to buy.
It’s an inherently hostile situation where you want to sell something and have that deal go down and he wants a solution but he doesn’t want to get taken.
He’s almost more afraid of being conned than he is of not having that solution in hand.
Some of these guys are almost sociopaths. I’m not going to name names but some of these guys … the quality of the product was really kind of secondary to the fact that they got their charge out of selling something — making the deal go down.
It’s almost like being a martial artist… you know how to twist people’s heads off and you spend a lot of time working on this stuff but you can still be a good person and either never use those skills or only use them for good.
As a salesman you really can’t do that because once you have a good product, then you don’t have ethical conflicts. It’s just you’re going to use everything you can.
If you have to use a tactic that is a little, let’s call it sneaky, then you do it because you know that the product is actually going to make the person’s life better.
People think, “I have the money… I have the investors in the back, I’ve got an opportunity to get a big office downtown, I can hang my shingle and I could open my pizza place or something” and they think that’s all the important stuff, and it’s not.
Give me a street-wise salesman, throw him into a career, selling pizza or selling shoes or selling something online where he has no clue what the product is, has never dealt with it… give me the salesman, throw him into that and he’ll make it work.
Give me a guy who knows everything else but doesn’t know how to sell and he’s going to fail.
No matter how logically it makes sense for Joe to buy this product that you’re selling, if you’re good, you know that what Joes needs is some unconscious emotional soothing before he can do it.
The more you know about the human race, you know that there aren’t that many different types of personalities. There aren’t that many different types of fears that we have.
We have similar nightmares. We have similar problems in life and that’s because we’re all from the same zygotes that go way back. Knowing that gives you a bit of an advantage
That’s why even the most brilliant advertising campaigns, they’re only going to hit a fraction of the market because most people are just not listening, will not pay attention and cannot be sold at that point, for whatever reason. They’ve got something else going on, they’re distracted, they don’t have the money. There’s all kinds of reasons.
Remember that almost none of the needs that they will tell you consciously that they have, are the problems that they really have.
I find the human race to be more lovable, the more I understand them.
I don’t get mad at people. I almost always know that the argument they’re having is never about what they’re talking about. There’s always something else going on.
Think about when you have a sticking point or a problem and then you solved it, what was the process you went through? It’s almost never a straight line A to B problem solution.
Take the pack of cigarettes, throw it away and never buy another one. Done. You’ve now quit smoking. How tough is that to pull off as a human being? Turns out it’s very tough because of the self-sabotage that goes along with things like that.
One of the great advantages of the Internet now, is you can go look up a niche message forum, and let me tell you a lot of your copy will write itself.
People got fooled by Barnum and they came and willingly got fooled again.
The farmer, working really hard and feeling good about things and leading a good life, will look up and wonder “What’s it all mean?”
That whole thing about Eve and the apple from the tree of knowledge … that’s a warning to people that knowledge carries its own things.
Once you understand things a little better, you often won’t accept the status quo.
You’re supposed to sow your oats, get all that done and then settle down, have a family and go to your damn job every day. That’s the society that works, that’s a model and that’s where people tried to fit into.
Humans aren’t built that way. Humans really thrive with a sense of wonder, with a sense of being able to expand.
The message at the end of the Wizard of Oz was go home and enjoy your home but do that after seeing the rest of the world.
We’re all Dorothy in a way. We’re all feeling stuck and mired in our lives.
Barnum was the agent of wonder, “Come with me into a different world.” People wanted that, they needed that.
Anybody who’s studied old tribes … there was always a shaman or a magic man who was the go-between, between a world that we couldn’t see and the world that we lived in.
The Joe Sugarmans and the Jay Abrahams and the Gary Halberts — they were shaman.
You want to maximize the number you can and at some point they’re going to have to make that decision that they’re going to come with you, but you make it as easy a decision to make as possible… so you cover the rational sides, the emotional sides, the storytelling sides…
If you give somebody a story to tell, you solved half the problem because they can tell themselves the story, they can tell others the story. They have a way to fit this whole process of buying something — or going with you — into their world.
Join the conversation…
Kevin, John and tons of smart listeners from around the world jump into the comments… Let us know what this episode brings to mind for you.