How I Learned the Secret of Hypnotic Writing

Few people know this, but I learned a lot about writing hypnotic copy from reading magic catalogs.

I've been interested in magic since I was sixteen years old. Inspired by Houdini, I wanted to be Harry Excello, the world's greatest escape artist. I used to let my brothers tie me up in the basement in Ohio. I always broke free. I knew Houdini's secrets. I could do what he did. one day I even considered being tied up and thrown off a bridge in my home town, left to struggle under water while I worked myself free from my binding.

That's when I turned to card magic.

I invented a few tricks and saw them published in magic magazines while I was still a teenager. But my father never approved of magic, and I let my interest hide under a mental rock for almost 30 years. Today I'm back into it. I've met Lance Burton, Peter Reveen, and Mark Levy, and famous entertainers like Kreskin use my marketing ideas. I'm now a life member of the Society of American Magicians, the group Houdini started in 1902.

I love reading magic catalogs because they are usually wonderful examples of hypnotic copy. In short, they sell the sizzle, not the steak. They focus on the benefit, not the feature. They always hide the secret. They always sell the dream. These are important lessons.

One description might say, "Watch your audience explode in laughter when you produce a duck from your bare hands. No experience necessary. Easy to do."

That's hypnotic. It focuses on what you the magician want—to be the popular entertainer with no hard work to accomplish it. Let me give you a longer example and dissect it for you.

Welcome to the Denny & Lee Magic e-Newsletter Scott Alexander "Final Answer" Bill in Lemon

I have been waiting for this to be finished for quite some time now. Scott Alexander, the manager of our Denny & Lee Magic Studio in Las Vegas, has created quite a name for himself with the release of his two DVDs, Midnight Show and 10 O'Clock Show. That was your first introduction to Scott Alexander.

The preceding sets the credibility level high. He's done DVDs before. He's the manager of a magic studio. This is no armchair magician. This is a pro. This copy creates trust, a very powerful ingredient in Hypnotic Writing.

Now he has released his version of the Bill in Lemon. These will be ready to ship in about two weeks. Due to the limited number of pieces in the first run, we are taking preorders for these units as they are sure to sell out very quickly. That's where being a subscriber to our newsletter pays off. These units will not be sold in every basement dealer's "Internet office."

This paragraph milks the famous scarcity principle to the hilt. When something you want is hard to get, then you really start to want it. When Gene Schwartz's famous book on advertising, Breakthrough Advertising, showed up on eBay, it sold for $900. Why? Because it was rare and dearly sought. Years ago I wanted a hard-to-get book on the bullet catch, a dangerous act in magic. The harder the book was to find, the more I wanted it. I almost became obsessed. When I finally had found the book, I was disappointed. It wasn't so hot after all. The preceding copy is letting you know this item is going to be rare and hard to get. That's hypnotic, as it pulls your psychological strings.

This is a highly professional piece of apparatus exactly as used in Scott's professional program. Invented by a pro, performed by a pro, sold by a pro. Everything made in the U.S.A. under high-quality specifications. No imported junk!!

Sad to say, many of the gimmicks in magic are junk. They're poorly made. They break. Denny & Lee know this, so they are letting you know this piece of magic apparatus is going to be first-class.

Without question, Scott Alexander has created the finest solution for the classic Signed Bill in Lemon ever devised. It's got it all. It's very easy to do, totally practical, fools everybody, and the audience goes wild!

You should catch on to what this copy is doing here. It is painting a mental picture of you performing this effect and being the life of the party. "The audience goes wild" is a phrase all magicians want to experience. It appeals to your ego. Talk about hypnotic. Appeal to your reader's ego and they will do virtually anything you ask. Think of the power this gives you!

It's the classic effect—a borrowed, signed bank note is vanished or destroyed and appears inside a lemon. "The Final Answer" is designed for professional use. It meets and exceeds all of the test conditions.

Yes—the signed bill really does end up inside a real lemon!

Yes—the lemon can be in the audience before the bill is borrowed and signed!

Yes-the audience can choose any lemon from a bowl of lemons!

Yes-the lemon can be sealed inside a zip-lock bag and never touched by the performer!

Yes—the spectator can actually cut the lemon open!

Two things going on there: First, they are answering all your questions. As you'll learn later in this book, anticipating objections and concerns and answering them at the right moment are keys to Hypnotic Writing.

Second, they are getting you into a yes mind-set. Look at all the yes statements. As you'll soon see, you can't create a hypnotic state without agreement.

First, let's talk about the gaff. It's been honed to perfection through countless hours of fine-tuning by Scott, Thomas Wayne, and Bob Kohler. Although it appears to be a common object, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality it's a precision made piece of machinery designed for stealth. Manufactured to our exacting specifications by master craftsman Thomas Wayne, you will marvel over the precision and gasp at the application. Objects this clever are usually reserved for James Bond!

A "gaff" is a device, gimmick, or trick. The copy here is letting you know, again, that this is high-tech stuff. And the association to James Bond is clever. Most people think of 007 as the collector of cool gadgets. It's very hypnotic to lead a person's mind to the right association you want them to make.

This diabolical gaff will give you the power to load a signed bill into a lemon, orange, or other fruit option completely undetected inches from the spectators' eyes. It's as fast as a rattlesnake bite and just as deadly.

I'm not crazy about the image—rattlesnakes are not my idea of a good time—but it does convey speed.

The copy goes on from there, explaining more about the effect.

Why so much copy? Well, this magic trick sells for four hundred dollars. Yes, $400. (If you want it—I believe they have one and only one left—see As you'll see later in this book, one of my secret principles is: The higher the cost, the more copy you'll need.

Again, magic catalogs can be a great resource for learning hypnotic copy. They teach you to focus on what people get. Whenever you write copy, ask yourself, "What does the reader want?" Focus on giving that to them.

But before we go much deeper into copywriting, let's peek behind the door that says Hypnosis on it.

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