Guest post by Donnie Bryant
As a marketer or copywriter, can you imagine anything more powerful than the ability to plant an idea directly into the minds of your prospects? An idea they think is their own? One that makes selling your product or service effortless?
I remember when I first heard about the movie Inception, this thought came to mind. Inception, if it were possible, would be the ultimate tool for marketers (not to mention politicians, teachers, lawyers, etc.). But I couldn’t see any real, practical way for it to work in real life. After seeing the film and reading some of the commentary, I see that I was dead wrong. Not only is inception possible, but it’s happening every day.
Dreams are places of … unreality. Dreams don’t have to be realistic, logical or even possible. That’s one of the reasons we like them and their daytime counterparts. To the human mind, dreams and Hollywood movies are pretty much identical. In his article for Wired, “The Neuroscience of Inception,” Jonah Lehrer explains that the processes going on in the brain while watching a movie are the same as the ones that taking place while dreaming. In other words, the movie theater is a “dreamshare” device, like the one used in the film to steal secrets and implant foreign ideas. The thing that needs to be noted is that during the movie-watching experience, while the visual cortex is working at peak levels, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) goes dormant. Why is that significant? The PFC is where the executive control of your brain is housed. “’Executive Control’ is the ability to guide thought and action in accordance with internal goals.” Can you think of a better time to introduce a new idea into someone’s mind than when this function is in hibernation? Rather than guiding your thoughts according to your own internal goals, the producer can theoretically guide your thought with external objectives of his own. Watching Inception may be the perfect opening to have inception performed on you.
Funny how Jayme compared marketing to theater with regard to the suspension of disbelief. When you’re selling something, the biggest hurdle you have to overcome is disbelief in one form or another. People are:
- skeptical (disbelief in you and/or your proposition)
- risk adverse (doubt about whether they’re making the right choice) and
- resistant to change (disbelief that they need to do something different than what they’re doing now)
An effective marketing message or sales pitch gives the potential customer enough reason to suspend that disbelief and make a purchase. (People have a strong desire to believe in certain things, so they may be very willing to suspend their disbelief in some cases.) In theater, you voluntarily suspend disbelief so you can enjoy an experience that is fiction/fantasy. Without hesitation, you put your critical thinking cap on the shelf – for 90 minutes or so. The forces that work in theater can also add strength to your marketing.
THE “SO WHAT?”
What does any of this have to do with your business? Let’s make some applications.
1) If you haven’t already, start thinking about adding video to your marketing arsenal. This is not to manipulate or take advantage of your customers, but to remove barriers that keep them from getting their hands on the valuable products or services you provide.
2) When writing copy, think about what makes Hollywood films so hypnotic. Use stories as much as you can. Stories create movies in the mind of your readers. Fill your copy with visual and emotional words and concepts.
3) Make copy easy to read. Movies project their message to you; you’re the passive receiver. Reading, on the other hand, requires work. You have to actively pull meaning out of the text. Make reading your copy simple. Be conversational and narrative. The language and sentence structure shouldn’t draw attention to themselves.
4) A good dose of nostalgia can go a long way. Nostalgia brings to mind old memories and feelings, causing those memories to flash across the mind’s eye much like a movie. People often go to great lengths to recapture those old emotions.
5) Show, don’t tell. Don’t tell your audience (either in copy, audio or video) what to think or feel. Give them material, clues and frames of reference to draw their own conclusions instead.
Previously published in John Forde’s “Copywriter’s Roundtable,” May 2012
Donnie Bryant is a direct response copywriter and marketing consultant from Chicago, IL. He specializes in improving businesses’ sales and profitability by creating compelling marketing messages and strategies. Find out more about Donnie at http://donnie-bryant.com