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Early to rise

I reject your reality and choose to substitute my own

I was down at our new “getaway” digs over Labor Day. It’s a great place. Just outside of Atlanta and two hours from our North Carolina home.

We bought it a few months ago so we could spend more time with my two older kids and three grandkids. They live in Atlanta, less than an hour away.

My plan for the weekend was that we’d all be tear-assing around the lake on our Sea-Doos. Maybe we’d do a little early-morning fishing. In the evening, we’d grill our catch out on the deck, along with an assortment of steaks, burgers, and weenies.

You know. Typical, normal family stuff.

Instead, I found myself sitting there alone. And I was feeling more than a little alarmed — having come to the realization that I am the patriarch of a family of nerds.

My son-in-law and both sons were spending Friday night in Atlanta, preparing to attend Dragon*Con on Saturday.

Never heard of Dragon*Con? I hadn’t either. Until my just-turned-15-year-old son said he wanted tickets for his birthday.

Dragon*Con is where thousands of nerds dress up like fantasy, horror, superhero, and sci-fi characters — and then geek out over each other.

It was enough to make me want to throw on my leathers, fire up the Harley, cruise over to the nearest biker bar, and drown my sorrows in a gallon or three of Absolut.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I actually enjoyed the solitude. Gave me time to think.

What I was thinking about was the impact our fantasies and beliefs have on us.

I saw a documentary on a related subject the other night. Fascinating stuff. It made the point that we are complicit in every lie we’re ever told. Our desire to believe makes deceiving us easy.

Guess that’s why they’ve sold billions of pills that supposedly make your thingy bigger. Or grow hair on your bald spot. Or burn off that spare tire without exercise.

It must also be why Bernie Madoff was able to fleece so many sophisticated investors for so many years.

This simple fact of human nature is so powerful, it is dangerous. As a marketer, simply knowing it gives you the ability to become a superhero or a supervillain.

Superpowers, as any Dragon*Con attendee can tell you, can be used either for evil or good. Please use this one only for good — to promote products that truly benefit your prospective customers.

And the way to do that is to get inside their heads.

Know Thy Prospect

Libraries of books have been written on the importance of knowing your prospect. Most extol the virtues of understanding demographic facts about them.

They drone on about knowing the sex, age, income level, educational level, etc. of the people you’re asking to buy your product.

And they go further, lecturing on the need to ferret out their hobbies, interests, and buying preferences.

However, few suggest that anchoring your sales message to a commonly held belief can have an explosive impact on your response rate and sales.

Case in point:

In the 1970s, a new industry appeared to provide objective news, analysis, and advice to investors. There was a crying need for it. Until then, this information had been parsed out by Wall Street brokers. And because they sold the investments they were talking about, they had a massive conflict of interest.

In the 1990s, another industry emerged. This time to provide news and advice to people who were interested in alternatives to toxic drugs and life-threatening surgery.

Again, there was a crying need. Until then, health information was largely dispensed by drug companies and mainstream experts who were paid fortunes in kickbacks by the drug companies. Every one of them had a vested interest in convincing consumers to blindly follow their doctors’ orders.

The prospects for both of these huge new industries had one, clear belief in common: You CANNOT trust the establishment. Not with your money and certainly not with your life.

Not surprisingly, copywriters for the investment and health industries who began by looking at mere demographic facts about their prospects produced lukewarm results at best.

But every copywriter who used his headline and lead to connect to the anti-establishment belief his prospects shared hit it out of the park.

Like me, for instance. The “Forbidden Cures” promo I wrote to harness my prospects’ distrust of and disgust with the medical establishment mailed in the tens of millions. And I was paid a king’s ransom in royalties.

Time to put on the old thinking cap…

What fantasies are your prospects engaged in right now? What commonly held beliefs do they swear by?

How can you connect with those beliefs in a way that will produce maximum attention-getting power, readership, and response in your next marketing effort?

Food for thought…

P.S. Ready for a marketing and copywriting master class? At Early to Rise’s Info-Marketing Bootcamp in November, I will be making one of my few public appearances. I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned during my decades in the business — at least, as much as I can in three days. And I’ll be joined on stage by a dozen of the most cutting-edge Internet marketing experts working today. Find out more about Bootcamp here.

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