Read This Article For a Key To Hypnotic Writing

Welcome back!

I hope your Labor Day holiday was enjoyable. Mine was good, but I have to say I felt a bit deceived by the weatherman. A sunny, beautiful weekend was predicted here in Jersey, and indeed that prediction held true for most of the state. But down the shore where I was it remained pretty much overcast except for Saturday. But, at least it didn’t rain, and with the good fortune of being able to generate a bit of “liquid sunshine” in lieu of the real thing, a good time was had by all.

By-the way, I realize that to most of the other coastal parts of the country, “the shore” refers to the strip of sand that meets the ocean.

Not in Jersey. To us, that’s “the beach.” While the beach is indeed an essential part of the overall shore experience, here in Tony Soprano land “the shore” encompasses so much more.

If I had to define it, I’d say that the Jersey shore is more “attitude” than location. It’s comprised of approximately 127 miles of resort and residential towns that feature endless rows of vacation bungalows, multi-million dollar homes, roadside motels, and seedy honky tonks from which blare the sounds of Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Frankie Valli, or the latest local tribute band.

On the famed boardwalks of tourist traps like Seaside Heights, it’s all about greasy cheese steaks, sausage sandwiches, slices of pizza the size of road cones, and wheels of “chance” where prizes range from stuffed animals to televisions, bicycles, and more. You’ll also find souvenir shops, beach gear stores, arcades and ice cream parlors, as well as two 300-foot long piers that feature amusement rides, carousels, log flumes, roller coasters, Ferris wheels and other attrations that'll make you lose your lunch quicker than a quarter through the cracks of the boards.

Every few steps you’ll come upon attractions that test your skills, bearing compelling names like “Frog Bog” and “Shoot the Geek,” where barkers dare you to shoot paint balls at a poor kid dressed up in an Osama Bin Laden costume who’s being paid about six bucks an hour for nothing more than cultivating welts on his head and body.

From the snap of paint balls hitting body … to the blaring sounds of rock-n-roll … to the bells and whistles of Lucky Leo’s Arcade … to the screams and sirens from the rides on Casino Pier … to the tat-tat-tat sound of leather slapping metal prongs as it slows down the spinning wheels of chance … it’s all part of the aura of the Jersey shore.

Is it unique to New Jersey? I don’t know … you tell me. All I can promise is you’ll have the time of your life when you visit the Jersey shore, and you’ll understand why it’s an experience all unto itself.

Okay, ‘nuff said about that. In the spirit of the holiday past (and in anticipation of the ones to come…), what do you say we get back to work?

A couple weeks ago we started talking about some psychological devices that will help your sales copy transform readers into buyers. Today we’ll take a look at another one that has almost a hypnotic quality about it … literally and figuratively.

It’s called, “Neuro-Linguistic Programming,” or “NLP” for short.

Co-founded in the 1970’s by American author and mathematician, Richard Bandler, and Dr. John Grinder, an American linguist at the University of California at Santa Cruz, NLP, in its most basic definition, is the study of helping people change by teaching them to program their brains.

Or, in our case, perhaps subtly programming it for them.

Now understand right up front that NLP is as complex as any psychological field of study out there, and it would be ludicrous to try and use this space to dissect it past the miniscule scope of it that applies to us.

Nevertheless, we can still examine the logic behind certain aspects of it and how they might be used to our benefit as copywriters. And the first aspect we’re going to take a look at this week is…

Embedded Commands

The “Golden Rule” of web copywriting (or any copywriting, for that matter…) is to generate a response of some kind. Whether it’s to call for more information, subscribe to a newsletter or mailing list, or purchase a product or service … you want your reader to take action!

Using embedded commands to elicit that action involves “embedding” the action you want your reader to take in the form of a casual, conversational sentence.

Consider the following sentence:

“Let me know when you are going to purchase this product and I’ll make sure you receive a free bonus report.”

On the surface it seems like a harmless enough sentence. But notice the almost hypnotic embedded command: …you are going to purchase this product.

Embedded commands are frequently used by public speakers to get their point across. Whether it’s a sales presentation or a political speech, the speaker will use voice inflections such as a lower tone or speaking more slowly for emphasis to produce the hypnotic effect.

We, as copywriters, don’t have that luxury so we have to depend on other means of delivering our embedded commands. This normally involves using boldface type, italics, quotation marks, dashes, ellipses, or colors.

In the example above, I set off my embedded command by putting it in italics, thus establishing the effectiveness in which the command is communicated. A person will subconsciously zero in on that part of the sentence as a command, and will likely follow the command without consciously realizing it.

The whole point is to gain effortless compliance from your reader without ever having them perceive that they’ve been given a command. What’s happening when you utilize an embedded command is you’re circumventing the scrutiny of a person’s logical “left brain,” and thus appealing directly to your reader’s intuitive and subjective “right brain” mode.

It is a very powerful tool, but like I said a couple weeks ago, it can be dangerous and unethical (if not illegal!) if used incorrectly, so be careful and do it right.

Crafting an Embedded Command

Start by constructing your command. This is usually expressed in three to seven words in the imperative voice and begins with an action verb. For example:

Pick up the phone…

Learn the secret to…

Act on this now…

Purchase (product name) today and get…

After you’ve constructed your command, simply incorporate it into a full sentence, such as:

Pick up the phone today and speak to a knowledgeable representative who can help you pick out the perfect pattern to compliment your home décor.

Learn the secret to a longer, healthier, and better life through meditation.

An additional bonus report will be sent with your order if you act on this now.

Purchase this widget today and get three more widgets for the just the cost of shipping and handling.

Take a look at some of the projects you’re working on and see where you might be able to edit your copy in order to insert an embedded command. It will make the copy more powerful, more compelling, and elicit your reader to take the action you want him to!

Oh … by the way … knowing where we were going with this post, I embedded a command up above when I was talking about the shore. Can you find it? (It shouldn’t be too hard to spot!) And for that matter, there’s one in the headline. Let me know what you think.

Till next week, and as always …

Good health and good writing!

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Published: September 9, 2009

3 Responses to “Read This Article For a Key To Hypnotic Writing”

  1. Dave Dee sells a course on this subject called the Psychic Sales Person. It's for sales people but there are definitely some ideas like the ones above that you can work into copy.

    Thanks for the reminder, John.

    Sean McCool

  2. Lived two miles from the Jersey Shore for 27 years. Miss it, but not the winters. Appreciated your article.

    John March

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