Get Your Reader Personally Involved

Welcome back! I hope your week was a productive one.

For the last couple weeks we’ve been talking about the subject of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and how we can use it to our advantage in writing stronger and more compelling copy. And as promised last week, we’re going to stay with it for one more week before moving on to other things.

But before I get into today’s topic, I want to talk to you for a bit about why we’re spending so much time on NLP.

The short answer is — it’s all about the details.

No matter what line of work you’re in, if you don’t pay attention to the details you’ll never be as good as the top players in your field or line of work. I’m talking about digging down deep for details seldom uncovered by the majority of people you’re competing against.

And make no mistake about it … if you’re in any kind of business, then you’re competing against others doing the same thing you are.

Let’s take baseball as an example.

It’s common knowledge that major league managers and scouts chart the tendencies of major league ball players. Before getting up to bat, hitters know what type of pitches pitchers like to use in certain situations, and consequently, pitchers know what pitches to use and where to locate certain pitches based on a batter’s past performances. It is all very sophisticated and analyzed by computer and laid out in spreadsheets.

But did you know that’s only scratching the surface of the research that’s being done today?

Ballplayers and managers will do anything—and I mean ANYTHING—to gain a competitive advantage. This includes stealing signs from the manager, catcher, and other players in regard to a play being implemented, or analyzing personality traits that will tip off a certain action. For example, many pitchers tip their pitches by doing something that lets the hitter know what type of pitch is coming. When Andy Benes pitched, he always would grind his teeth when throwing a slider. Randy Johnson would angle his glove differently on his slider than on his fastball. This type of information is golden as far as managing a game goes.

And it gets even more intricately involved.

There is a method developed by mathematician Steve C. Wang, a professor of statistics at Swarthmore College, that even analyzes facial expressions of managers in order to predict tendencies like bunting, stealing and pinch-hitting.

And this level of analysis doesn’t only happen in major league baseball; it happens in every other professional sport (or business, for that matter … ) where big money is riding on every swing of the bat, throw of the ball, or managerial decision.

The point is (you knew there was a point to all this, right?) Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques in copywriting are our answer to high-level analysis in big league sports. It offers us, as copywriters, our competitive advantage and should be embraced and studied if we’re going to attempt to “run with the big dogs” in our chosen profession.

Make sense?

Great. Then let’s move on to our final NLP topic …

Involvement Devices

Involvement devices are—quite simply—exactly what they purport to be: Devices that get people involved with your copy and move them to read every word on the website.

We’ve all heard about the foreboding “3 – 5 seconds” a person will spend on a website before moving on if he or she is not immediately intrigued by what is presented. And to a large degree, this is true. But if you employ an effective involvement device, you can effectively own your audience and hold them captive while leading them to take the action it is you want them to take.

In its simplest of functions, an involvement device presents a means for readers to break their preoccupation with life’s daily challenges. It provides a means to focus on one subject and identify their personal wants, needs, dreams, and desires. There are several ways of accomplishing this, including:

  • Dialogue boxes

    Besides giving a reader a safe place to record his or her answers to well-crafted questions, a dialogue box brings a reader’s desires into focus and allows us, as copywriters, the opportunity to present the product or service as the means to achieving those desires. Some websites provide this in the form of a “wish box,” where the reader would type in the type of product he or she desires. Others use the power of a blog to interact with readers or the “live chat” dialogue box. No matter which is employed, it gets your readers focused on the task at hand, which is recognizing your product or service as the solution to their problem.

  • Checklists and/or Quizzes

    Checklists and quizzes are powerful involvement devices because they usually feature check boxes or “true/false” boxes that are designed to lead readers in the direction you want to take them. In the case of quizzes, a small pop-up box can confirm the answer or provide the correct one. In either case, it keeps the reader on the webpage and helps to lead them down the intended sales path.

  • Commitment Boxes

    According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: Science and Practice and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, “Writing is believing.” When you ask your website readers to type out the things they desire, it is akin to admitting a need for the product or service. Additionally, writing out a desire is a far more powerful commitment than mentally desiring something, and offers a greater likelihood that the reader will follow through on it.

Involvement devices are limited only by your imagination and creativity. But remember whatever technique you use, the purpose is to sift through the outside stimuli that constantly bombards your readers and get them to focus on their own wants, needs, and desires that your product or service will satisfy. That, along with offering a high degree of involvement, will ultimately bring a higher response rate from your readers.

And don’t forget, as I’ve said in previous posts, NLP techniques can be a little dangerous if used improperly, so use good, common sense when employing them.

I’d love to hear what you think, so take a moment and let me know!

See you next week, and as always …

Good health and good writing!

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Published: September 23, 2009

3 Responses to “Get Your Reader Personally Involved ”

  1. Great post! I appreciate the research you include. It's all very helpful.

    ChrisSeptember 25, 2009 at 8:38 am

  2. NLP appears a new and unique point raised by Mr.John Torre. It is of practical significance.

    Jawaharlal Jasthi 36January 20, 2015 at 6:37 pm


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