Two Ways to Cause Action

As you probably already know, there are two ways to cause people to take action. One is pain and the other is pleasure.

These are known throughout history. They are the two primary human activators. In short, you can get people to move with a board smacked across their butt or a juicy carrot dangling in front of their face.

Most people in marketing and psychology agree that the first motivator—pain—is more powerful than the second. While I agree, I think that is a disservice to humankind.

Why add to the misery in the world? I say let's make a difference and focus on pleasure. Let's make people happy. I think that is a sounder way to help people, as well as to help you.

Can you imagine how wonderful life will be for all of us if we focused on our wants—our desires, our pleasures, our goals—and not on our pains?

But let's start with the basic formula for persuading people, which traditionally includes the pain motivator. Starting here will give you a better sense of how to use my revised system later, which I explain in a moment.

This strategy is probably 2,500 years old and goes back to Aristotle and the ancient Greeks. The great orators of that time spoke to persuade people. Aristotle gave them a formula for doing just that.

Here it is:

1. Exordium. Make a shocking statement or tell a story to get attention.

2. Narratio. Pose the problem the reader/listener is having.

3. Confirmation. Offer a solution to the problem.

4. Peroratio. State the benefits of action on the solution.

This should look a little familiar to you. It's very similar to the classic advertising formula known as AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Because of both of those formulas, most of my sales oriented writing follows along the easy path of answering these questions:

1. Are you getting attention with your opening?

2. Are you stating a problem the reader cares about?

3. Are you offering a solution that really works?

4. Are you asking the reader to take action?

In short, and in a very simplified version, here is Aristotle's formula in modern dress:

1. Problem

2. Promise

3. Proof

4. Price

Not much to it, is there?

Let's look at each step and see what secrets it holds.

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