Guest Post: Gary Bencivenga
Copywriter, Gary Bencivenga worked with legendary greats such as the late John Caples and David Ogilvy. Semi-retired, after 38 years in the copy business, Gary continues to help others master the secrets of persuasion-in-print.
The Secret “Trigger Word” That Makes More of Your Prospects Say Yes Than Any Other Word in the English Language
Okay, today I’m going to share what I’m convinced is the single most powerful trigger word that makes your “reasons why” hit home with much greater persuasive force. It is the overlooked word that causes more prospects to say “yes” than any other word in the English language.
Why is it so powerful?
… Because it triggers an automatic and favorable response in the overwhelming majority of your best prospects – 94 percent and 93 percent in two typical scientific experiments I’ll cite in a moment.
… Because it secretly “anesthetizes” the skeptical part of your prospects’ brains, seducing them into deciding emotionally, often with little or no critical thinking. This results in much higher levels of response and sales.
… Because you can use this magic word any time you want to persuade almost anyone to do almost anything, whether in your advertising, presentations, relationships with your customers, employees, management, board members, spouse, children, lover, a jury – anyone you wish to persuade in the fastest, most reliable manner
… Because people love to be persuaded this way, as you’ll see.
If so, you are already coming under the spell of this magic word in this message because I always use it throughout my copy. (In fact, I just used it in this paragraph and you probably didn’t even notice. That’s how it works – invisibly.)
First, let me give you the scientific proof on why it works, and then I’ll reveal the word that is likely already building curiosity and desire in you.
Two Fascinating Experiments Every Marketer Should Memorize.
In the animal kingdom, as well as in humans, sometimes a single sound can trigger automatic behavior. For example, when a mother turkey hears a certain chirp from her chicks, she becomes a very conscientious mother turkey. But if she doesn’t hear exactly that chirping sound, she will ignore or even kill her young.
But here’s where it gets interesting, especially for anyone who wants to evoke automatic and favorable responses in humans. Listen to these two amazing experiments, described in the wonderful book, The Psychology of Influence, by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini. The first involved mother turkeys, the second, humans.
Let’s look at the first …
“For a mother turkey, a polecat is a natural enemy whose approach is to be greeted with squawking, pecking, clawing rage. Indeed, the experimenters found that even a stuffed model of a polecat, when drawn by a string toward a mother turkey, received an immediate and furious attack.”
“When, however, the same stuffed replica carried inside it a small recorder that played the ‘cheep-cheep’ sound of baby turkeys, the mother not only accepted the oncoming polecat, but gathered it underneath her. When the machine was turned off, the polecat model again drew a vicious attack.”
In other words, the “cheep cheep” sound of a baby turkey was the only key factor that mattered in evoking an automatic and favorable response in our mother turkey.
And if you think this happens only to our bird-brained feathered friends, listen to this second experiment involving humans, reported by Dr. Cialdini:
“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason.
“Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer demonstrated this unsurprising fact by asking a small favor of people waiting in line to use a library copying machine. ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?’
“The effectiveness of this request-plus-reason was nearly total: 94 percent of those asked let her skip ahead of them in line. Compare this success rate to the results when she made the request only (without giving a ‘reason why’): ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
“Under those circumstances, only 60 percent of those asked complied. At first glance, it appears that the crucial difference between the two requests was the additional information provided by the words, ‘because I’m in a rush.”
“But a third type of request tried by Langer showed that this was not the case. It seems that it was not the whole series of words, but the first one, ‘because,’ that made the difference. Instead of including a real reason for compliance, Langer’s third type of request used the word ‘because’ and then, adding nothing new, merely restated the obvious: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”
“The result was that once again nearly all – 93 percent – agreed, even though no real reason, no new information, was added to justify their compliance. Just as the ‘cheep-cheep’ sound of turkey chicks triggered an automatic mothering response from maternal turkeys – even when it emanated from a stuffed polecat – so, too, did the word ‘because’ trigger an automatic compliance response from Langer’s subjects, even when they were given no subsequent reason to comply.”
How to Use This to Leverage Your Response
Top Gun, if you want to boost your results by very significant numbers – virtually automatically! – start filling your copy with more “becauses.”
Why? Because it works!
And, for best results, always follow your “becauses” with compelling reasons.
Remember, in Dr. Cialdini’s example, where someone asked to jump to the front of the line, people were persuaded solely by the word “because,” even when the “reason” that followed wasn’t particularly rational or logical.
But with written words, I believe the bar is raised a little higher because people are more deliberative when they read.
So, when using the written word, you’ll enjoy maximum results when you use lots of “becauses,” followed by compelling reasons.
For example, I could encourage you to read these Bullets regularly by saying, “Read the Bullets – you’ll be glad you did!” But you’ll probably feel a stronger pull of persuasion if I urge you to read these Bullets:
… Because they are based not on opinions but on solid research of the most effective ways to influence others, as well as literally thousands of scientific split-run tests I have conducted for my clients.
… Because they will help you become a master of persuasion in any medium.
… Because they are the best gems of persuasion and direct response wisdom I have gleaned from almost 40 years of hard work, passionate dedication and relentless searching for the best ways to make others respond favorably … and because you can profit from all this free.
… Because they are shortcuts to whatever you want in life – money, fame, status and the freedom of financial independence, all of which can be yours once you know how to persuade others to do what you ask.
These excellent reasons, framed by “because,” are infinitely stronger than a lame claim like, “you’ll be glad you did.” See the difference?
Fill your copy with potent “reasons why,” peppered with lots of “becauses,” and I guarantee you’ll find it so much easier to persuade people. You’ll also find that people love to be persuaded this way. Here’s why …
It’s Not Only the Most Effective, but also the Most Ethical Method of Persuasion
In the end, there is no great mystery, nor any unethical manipulation involved in the use of the word “because.” In fact, it’s the most honest, straightforward, aboveboard and ethical type of persuasion you can use.
Because (there it is again) people act in their own self-interest. That’s a given. And when you give people rational, logical and honest-to-goodness reasons to act in their own self interest – voila – they do!
You win, they win, and as long as your reasons are accurate, you accomplish your goal without trickery or deceit.
What’s more, it’s the best kind of sale you can make, because it’s a sale built on mutual benefit, trust and the truth, all of which will endow you with future sales from that same customer.
So persuading a customer in this straightforward, “reason-why” way creates not just one sale, but a repeating “annuity” for you, a future stream of revenue that keeps making you wealthier repeatedly, not just once.
It is therefore the most leveraged way to build both your sales and your wealth, all from a single magic word – because, the great, secret “hinge of persuasion” that lets you open almost any heart, mind or door and grow richer in the process.
Find Gary Bencivenga at Marketing Bullets.
P.S. Gary Beneivenga is one of the finest copywriting resources available. I read and re-read his material because his ideas are so simply stated and profound that it makes it easy to use his ideas in my own copywriting. He’s considered one of the world’s greatest living copywriters… and I can certainly understand why. Can’t you?