Most  marketers approach their prospects like an army would attack a walled city: with a full frontal assault.

We come at them with flags flying, trumpets blaring, and missiles flying. Our siege machines hurl fiery projectiles, our archers darken the sky with arrows, and we send row after row of armored warriors to storm the enemy’s gates.

Of course, unlike the ancient Greeks and Romans who used real weapons, our missiles are mere words: benefits honed to razor sharpness.

But there’s another way to coax the enemy to abandon the city and join us. And in many cases, this alternative can prove far more effective.

“Curiosity,” said Claude Hopkins, “is among the strongest of human incentives.”

“Amen!” shout Marty Edelston, Brian Kurtz, Mel Martin, and Gene Schwartz.

“Boy, howdy!” agree Parris Lampropoulos, Arthur Johnson, and others.

Boardroom Inc. is — as far as I can tell — the single most successful soft-offer direct-response marketer in America. And Boardroom and its writers learned long ago that, for them at least, the path to profit paradise is paved NOT with in-your-face, benefit-packed headlines and copy, but with intrigue:

The flirtatious smile … the demurely raised hem … the glimpse of forbidden flesh … the implication of otherwise prohibited pleasures to come … leaves readers panting for more. And, of course, the only way for them to get more is to mail in the reply card!

And so, Boardroom pioneered the use of “fascinations” to sell its books and newsletters on personal finance and health.

Instead of barraging prospects with blatant benefits, Boardroom’s legendary copy teases, titillates, and tempts prospects — intensifying their curiosity to almost unbearable levels, and then inviting them to satisfy that curiosity for free.

“Send no money NOW!” they proclaim. “Just mail this card for your FREE, 60-day preview. If you don’t love it, just send it back and owe nothing. If you do love it, do nothing. We’ll bill you later!”

Beautiful. Just beautiful. And more than that: a perfect fit for the product being sold.

See, every self-help book or newsletter you’ve ever read contained two kinds of information or advice:

A) Real, ingenious, forehead-slapping “Ah-HA!” tips you would never have thought of yourself — and that empower you to save time, save money, make more money, solve a problem, or achieve something else wonderful


B) More obvious, common-sense, mundane, even pedantic stuff you already know — but if followed, would also do all of the above for you

So Boardroom’s copywriters simply…

  • Give away the most amazing forehead-slappers in the copy, thus proving how ingenious the tips in the publication they’re selling really are, and…
  • Use the more common-sense tips to create scores of “fascinations” — bulleted items that intrigue the reader while offering or implying a benefit — designed to crank up prospects’ curiosity and make “not ordering” a virtual impossibility.

The “forehead-slappers” are a breeze to write. Just take the tip, add a smidgeon of drama, and you’ve got a proof element that would persuade even the most skeptical prospect of the product’s value.

But writing great fascinations is an art form demanding a great eye, well-developed skill, and tremendous creativity.

Take Boardroom’s world-famous “What Never to Eat on an Airplane” fascination, for example, from a promotion that mailed profitably to millions of homes.

Want to know the answer? What is it that you should never eat on an airplane?

Are you ready for the Earth-shaking answer to this great mystery?

Here it is: Food!

Intestinal gas is the natural byproduct of digestion. On an airplane, that gas expands as cabin pressure decreases with altitude. Result: You feel bloated and uncomfortable. Or worse: It could trigger an embarrassing… er… “faux pas.”

Now think about that for a moment. You’re a copywriter, plowing through a 400-page Boardroom book, preparing to write your sales copy. Among hundreds of gems of advice, you come across a small, seemingly obvious travel tip: Eating while flying gives you the farts.

You’d probably be tempted to just move on. Not exactly a life-changing insight. Sounds like common sense, right?

But not to a great fascination writer! Immediately, his mind goes to work, turning that seemingly insignificant fact over and over… examining it from every angle… finding an element of intrigue or irony… identifying the implied benefit… and Voila! A legendary fascination is born.

In most cases, this kind of seduction tends to work best in promotions of information products: books, special reports, newsletters, seminars — that kind of thing. But I’ll bet that if you put on your thinking cap, you could figure out ways to use this powerful persuader in just about any promotion!

[Ed. Note: Using curiosity and intrigue in your advertising is just one of the strategies you’ll learn at Early to Rise’s upcoming 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference. Every year, we bring in experts like Clayton Makepeace to give you the tools and techniques to be successful. Build your own fully operational Internet business in just five days. Registration at our low introductory price just started last week.

Master copywriter Clayton Makepeace publishes the highly acclaimed e-zine The Total Package to help business owners and copywriters accelerate their sales and profits. Claim your 4 free moneymaking e-books — bursting with tips, tricks, and tactics that’ll skyrocket your response rates — at]