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Telling people the reason why you are doing something is one of the most powerful influencers of human behavior.
Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” talks about an experiment by Harvard social psychologist, Ellen Langer, that concluded people like to have a reason for what they do.
Her experiment consisted of people waiting in line to use a library copy machine and then having experimenters ask to get ahead in line.
The first excuse used was “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” This request coupled with a reason was successful 94% of the time. However when the experimenter made a request only: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” this request was only granted 60% of the time. A significant drop.
Okay now for the shocker…
It may seem like the difference between those two requests was the additional information of “because I’m in a rush”, but that’s just not the case. Because in a third experiment, the experimenter asks “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” There’s no reason mentioned or new information presented, just the added word, “because”.
This time a full 93% of the people said yes simply due to the word ‘BECAUSE’! And it didn’t even matter that there was no reason given. Just adding the word “because” triggered a magic response.
Using this psychological “Hot Button” can massively increase your sales online (and offline).
Here’s an example: John E. Powers, one of the top copywriters in the 1900’s, wrote this ad for a Pittsburgh department store in severe financial trouble:
“We are bankrupt. We owe $125,000 more than we can pay, and this announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and *buy* tomorrow, we shall have the money to meet them. If not, we shall go to the wall.”
Instead of yelling ‘SALE’ like so many other stores would, there’s a legitimate reason given why people should spend their money at this store. And this ad was said to beresponsible for saving the store.
Max Sackheim, famous for the long-running ad “Do You Make These Mistakes In English” and originator of the book-of-the-month concept, says this: “Whenever you make a claim or special offer in youradvertising, come up with an honest reason why, and then state it sincerely. You’ll sell many more products this way.”
And this powerful strategy works just as well today.
I try to use “reason-why” copy in almost all my promotions because it’s just that powerful. In fact, here’s a paragraph from one of my first six-figure sites, which is probably one of the most ripped-off paragraphs on the Web!
(I currently charge a minimum of $1,500.00 per copywriting project — and that’s for the really small jobs). So at a bare bones minimum you’re getting thousands and thousands of dollars worth of powerful sales letters at your disposal.
But I’m not going to charge you anywhere near that amount or even my minimum project price. In fact, your total investment for all 39 money-making, fill-in-the-blank sales letter templates is just $39.97. The money you’ll earn as a result of these proven letters can very easily pay you back hundreds (probably thousands) times your meager investment.
So what’s the catch? Why am I practically giving these letters away?
Well, it’s really quite simple. Since you’re accessing these directly from the Internet I have no inventory and no fulfillment costs. I don’t need to pay anyone to take the orders over the phone (though, you are welcome to call me at 301-xxx-xxxx to rest assured that I am a real person). This way I can pass along my cost savings to you. So you win and I win.
This is very powerful for a downloadable or “e-product”. But let’s say you don’t sell an instantly downloadable product. I’ve sold many high-priced products using “reason why” approaches. For a recent reprint rights promotion, I gave people four legitimate reasons. (Actually, that’s the subhead in the letter – “4 Reasons Why I Am Offering This Reprint Rights Package”):
- Needed a cash infusion to fund an upcoming project.
- Don’t have time with all my different projects to market this course.
- Can’t possibly reach the entire marketplace myself.
- I want to get tremendous testimonials back from rights holders.
Now all of these sounded legit and were, which makes it even more powerful. You can’t go wrong by using “reason-why” and it works in almost any situation. I just recently had a “Baby Z” Sale to celebrate the birth of my son, Zachary. It was our best sale ever because of a real reason why.
Whatever you’re selling online or offline – think of a legitimate reason why and I guarantee you’ll sell many times more than you normally would.
To work up some reason-why sales angles, let people “behind the scenes” at your company. For example:
- Are you overstocked on merchandise because for some reason customers only want the deluxe widget – but you ordered tons of the basic one?
- Did you have a flood and you need to liquidate (pardon the pun) your inventory?
- Do you need to raise cash so you can pay your taxes? (One of my friends actually did this and more than paid for his taxes!)
Whatever the reason – tell them the truth.
For some reason everyone wants to be mysterious about their business. If you’re lowering the price, nobody thinks you’re doing it just because you’re “such a nice guy,” so let people in on the reason why.
I know this probably goes against every grain of business sense, but I promise if you give people a good, believable reason why they’ll respond much more strongly.