The Mind Is Easily Tricked

One of the secret principles you'll learn is the idea that the mind is easily tricked by optical as well as literary illusions.

You're probably familiar with optical illusions. Numerous books and sites show pictures that can be seen in a variety of ways. One famous image looks like an old woman—until you stare a little longer and suddenly see the profile of a young woman in the same image. (See Figure 49.1.)

Which do you see—an old woman or a young girl?

Both are there.

But maybe you've seen that famous illusion. Well, let me blow your mind. Look at Figure 49.2.

Figure 49.1 Optical Illusion—Old Woman or Young Girl?
Figure 49.2 Optical Illusion—Is It Moving?

Is the image moving?

Actually, it's not moving at all. Your mind is making you think it is. That's an optical illusion.

Something similar can happen with words. After all, words are images, too. They are subject to the blind spots in our brains. For proof, read the following:

Aoccdrnig to a rsceearcehr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Fascinating, isn't it?

I'm not advocating misspelling words or intentionally misleading people. I'm demonstrating a principle. Your mind is vulnerable. It can see things that aren't there and miss things that are there. This is important information. It's what allows magicians the ability to fool us.

So how does this secret help you with your sales letters, ads, emails, web sites, and any other writing you do?

Here's how: You can consciously weave your words in such a way that people fill in the blanks. In other words, you can help them imagine buying your product or service without asking them to get it.

This is the sport of Hypnotic Writing. Here's an elementary example:

"Imagine driving this sleek car down a country road."

What did you see in your mind? Most likely you imagined a sports car. But why a sports car?

The word sleek led your mind to create a visual. That image came from your mind, not mine. I gave you a prompt and your mind leaped to a conclusion. Minds are like that.

Also, in the paragraph before that example, I planted the word sport in your mind. Did you notice it?

It's where I wrote, "This is the sport of Hypnotic Writing." The word sport was already in your consciousness and was easy to bring up when I asked you to imagine a "sleek car."

I was talking with my friend Kevin Hogan, author of The Psychology of Persuasion and many other books about influence. He says that if you can actually get your customer to see themselves doing or using whatever your product does, you win big. The trick is, they have to imagine themselves with your product.

All of this may be tricky to grasp. Let's look at one more example:

I went to the MSN home page and saw a headline that read, See a Ferrari Laptop. I like sports cars, so I clicked. Imagine my surprise when I saw a picture of a laptop computer, not a convertible. My mind highlighted the word Ferrari and let me slide past the next word.

I could go on and on. For example, sometimes I end a letter with "Stop buy and see us." Few note I used the word buy instead of by. The mind sees it as "stop and buy."

I learned this subtle hypnotic method when a friend of mine out of town ended an e-mail with the words "Take car." He meant to say, "Take care" He slipped and wrote "Take car" as a way to speak to my mind and urge me to drive and see him.

In short, these "mind gaps" can be cause for confusion or for communication. The idea here is to use this principle to control how your reader pieces together your offer in your sales letter. What you tell them and how you tell it to them will create a picture in their mind, which creates their perception, which is their reality.

I remember an episode of The Simpsons where the unsophisticated bar owner, trying to seduce his date by offering to take her to dinner, said, "They have steaks there as big as toilet seats."

His description ruined the moment. Associating a steak with a toilet seat made the steak very unappealing.

When I was growing up, my father used to say he was proud of being bald. He would explain, "Grass doesn't grow on a busy street." His description created the impression—the perception— that bald people are thinkers.

But then one day someone told my dad, "You know, grass doesn't grow on concrete, either." This new description created a new perception.

Which is real? Both are.

When you are composing your Hypnotic Writing, be careful to lead your reader's mind where you want it to go. Again, how you describe your offer, price, or product will determine how they perceive it. And their perception is their reality.

Trevor Silvester, writing in his book WordWeaving: The Science of Suggestion, says: "We can never know reality."

Chew on that for a while.

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