Secrets of a Master:
“The Secret of the ‘Naïve’ Narrator”

"Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it." (Francois de la Rochefoucauld)

In the last issue of The Golden Thread Online, I told you about "The Secret of the 'Skeptical' Narrator." Today, I'm going to introduce you to a close cousin of this sales technique: "The Secret of the 'Naïve' Narrator."

AWAI co-chairman, Paul Hollingshead, is anything but naïve. He consistently manages to write some of the most effective direct-mail packages in the newsletter industry.

Paul is a master of making prospects feel at ease. How does he do it? This excerpt from his piece for the AWAI copywriting course might help explain:

"It doesn't take a 'superior intellect' to do what we do. I'm living proof of that. I'm probably no smarter than you. I was a below average student in school. Never did better than a 'C.'

"You don't have to be an English major or literary genius, either. Ask me to dissect a simple sentence and you're likely to see one of the blankest stares you've ever seen. And I'm embarrassed to say I can count the number of books I've finished reading on one hand. (Mrs. Schefchuck, my high school English teacher, once said my reading and writing skills were that of a sixth grader. She was probably right!)"

Again, we've got someone selling what's actually a very good product. So, again, product quality makes it easier for Paul to make the sale.

But the added boost to his pitch is the "naïve narration." Paul used the same technique to write a successful promotion for an investor's alliance called the "Oxford Club":

"I never made a dime buying and selling my own accounts …"

I don't have Paul's Oxford Club original here with me, so I'm paraphrasing in the above quote. But what he did, in short, was tell the story of an investor – himself – as he learns a better way to invest.

"Yeah, but …" you say, "what should I do if that isn't my story?" No problem. It doesn't have to be your story. Any testimonial that shows an unassuming type making great accomplishments will do.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
No ratings yet
Published: March 25, 2002

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)