How’d this junk mail writer amass one of the largest modern art collections in America?
Working just 4 hours a day from his oak desk, he sold over a billion dollars worth of products in every conceivable market.
These 8 Persuasion Patterns are keys to understanding how he did it.
Persuasion Pattern #1:
The Try-Before-You-Buy Proposition
There’s nothing subtle about this since it’s the backbone of just about every ad Gene Schwartz wrote.
- “Prove it to yourself entirely at our risk.”
- “Read it cover to cover entirely at our risk.”
- “Read this book from cover to cover. Then decide whether you want to keep it.”
The try-before-you-buy proposition or the risk-free-trial-offer works like a charm in home study course marketing today, just as it did for book advertising decades ago. Other marketers’ vocabulary is worth noting here, like Joe Sugarman’s “satisfaction conviction,” as well as “risk reversal,” popularized by Jay Abraham. They mean essentially the same thing, yet the differences are subtle though important.
Persuasion Pattern #2:
The Power of Proof Mechanisms
Admittedly, the claims in some of these ads seem completely outlandish. That’s why the authors of the publications are often described as “unconventional” and even “controversial,” otherwise, the prospect would have encountered such claims before.
Such giant claims must be married to a bedrock of proof, or else, they’re laughable. In many ads, the outstanding credentials or results of the author are showcased.
Outstanding Authority As A Proof Mechanism
What marketer wouldn’t give his eyeteeth to get a crack at writing an ad with a testimonial like this in hand?
This text box is found in: “From Four Packs A Day To Zero In 4 Hours! And he hasn’t touched a cigarette again in six years!”
Place As A Proof Mechanism
In these examples, the proof mechanism derives from the geographical place and all the positive connotations associated with it.
- “Hollywood plastic surgeon releases 7-day Crash Course towards dazzling new youth and beauty.” (At Last! Instant Beauty!)
- “Sweden’s Miracle Formula That Makes Skin Look Young Again.”
- “Secrets of Eastern Supermen Revealed to The West At Last”
- “Doctors in Sweden Say There IS a Cure For Arthritis”
Photos and Beliefs As Proof Mechanisms
This ad and others capitalized on the eternally youthful looking, Oleada Baker. Many of the ads specified the year, month and day the photo was taken, and always pointed out that the photo was “unretouched.” (from: Why Models Stay Young Till Sixty!)
This headline plays on the belief that there’s a group of beautiful people and jet setters who get whatever they want without lifting a finger…eat whatever they please without gaining an ounce…and continue to look and act beautiful almost by some divine right.
How they achieved this exalted status doesn’t really matter. What matters is there’s a large enough segment of people who believes this. So, there’s no need for master-level persuasion because this built in belief system works naturally.
Demonstration often serves as a key proof mechanism. This one is from “How To Stroke Wrinkles Right Out of Your Face”
Testimonials As Proof Mechanisms
While some have charged that his advertising claims were pumped up, no one leveled the charge that the testimonials were anything other than authentic. For whatever reason, Gene did not use testimonials in the majority of his ads, but when they appeared, they were specific and results-based.
- “The improvement in my face is almost unbelievable. I had given up hope until I found you.”
- “I learned more from your seminar about how to make money than I learned in my four years of college.”
- “On a recent business trip I threw my back out when leaning over to open a suitcase. Using Dr. Thompson’s corrective exercise numerous times each day, I was back to normal within three days.”
Persuasion Pattern #3:
The Beacon Technique
Gene Schwartz excelled at signaling to his prospect while he was busily flipping through a magazine or news publication.
Often, through targeted headlines like:
- To The Man Who Will Settle For Nothing Less Than The Presidency Of His Firm!
- Work All You Want! And be a BETTER WIFE and MOTHER because of it!
- If You’re Over Thirty — This Is The Best Exercise You Can Do For Your Face, Your Body And Your Heart!
He also managed to effectively do this with text boxes.
“If you read nothing else, read this one paragraph from the book.”
This apparently is a technique to beacon to a page-flipping prospect and pull her into the copy. (from: At Last! Natural Face Lifting By Exercise!)
The “take this test” technique uses the power of demonstration. Another way to beacon to the prospect. (from: Is It Worth $2 To You To Banish Ugly Cellulite Forever?)
Persuasion Pattern #4:
How will the prospect feel when she has the product in hand?
Can she visualize using it, or picture it in her familiar environment? If she can, the deal is that much easier to cinch.
“Future Pacing” is fully treated in “Breakthrough Advertising,” yet it’s worth including since it plays a key role in so many ads. It’s one of the most underexploited copywriting techniques today.
- “As you now begin to explore this book more deeply, you will learn that certain problem areas demand certain ingenious solutions.”
- “Place it on your bedstand entirely at our risk for 10 days!”
- “When this book arrives, set aside a few minutes each day from the following weekend. Glance through its pages. Get ready to see for yourself the heart-warming new performance your child can give you in his homework, once you give him the proper mental tools to work with.”
Persuasion Pattern #5:
Future pacing the prospect’s expectation
What are the prospect’s expectations when she answers the siren call of Gene Schwartz’s giant promise advertising?
What will she think when the package arrives next week, and she tears it open only to find a thin tome?
“I paid X dollars for this?”
Gene uses what I call the “winning ticket” technique to completely sidestep this. It’s analogous to “future pacing” and it sets the prospect’s expectation for what he’ll experience when the product arrives.
He essentially tells the prospect that she’ll have the winning ticket in hand verses a drawer full of losing ones.
There’ll be no encyclopedia, just all the answers she needs to change her life for the better, starting the moment the product lands in her hands.
Persuasion Pattern #6:
“Claim-Time Frame” Headlines
Much of Gene Schwartz’s “big promise advertising” rests on a claim boosted by a result occurring in a rapid time frame or succinctly, “claim-time frame” headlines.
“Your Body Is Twice As Young As You Think! And these five ‘Age Trimming Actions’ will prove it to you as little as a single week!”
Persuasion Pattern #7:
“See Page” Bullets
Gene was not the first to use these, but he (and Mel Martin) excelled at these types of bullets or fascinations, far beyond any of his contemporaries.
This works on the power of specificity. Not only is the answer the prospect is looking for in the book, but he knows the very page to turn to when it arrives.
- “How the wrong vitamin can poison your skin. And the right vitamin therapy cause spectacular changes overnight. (See page 108.)”
- “First turn to page 94. Read this page alone – nothing more. Then, pick up any book you wish and read one page in it. Time yourself – find out exactly how long it took you to read that page, before you tried out this simple trick.”
- “On page 33 you discover a six-second motion with your mouth, that instantly relaxes the overtense muscles of your chest, heart and solar plexus – and drains hypertension out of your body like water running from a sieve.”
Persuasion Pattern #8:
The Power of Word Pictures
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
About two years before Gene died, he published a fantastic book called “The Brilliance Breakthrough.” Don’t look for it on Amazon, it’s out of print. Also, don’t ask me for info about obtaining rights and product sourcing. I can’t be of any help there.
What I can tell you is, you can go to your local library and request an inter-library loan of the book. It’s unlikely you’ll find it outside of the States or Canada, sorry.
The book is in many ways a perfect compliment to “Breakthrough Advertising.” Gene lays out his system for understanding “picture words” and “connector words,” and how they work together to create brilliant writing and speaking.
Here are some headlines demonstrating Gene’s powerful picture words.
- Turns up your “Digestive Furnace and burns flab right out of your body!
- FAT DESTROYER FOODS!
- Pain Causing Poisons Literally Pour Out Of Your Body!
- This Woman Is Slimming Her Waistline – By Blowing Out the Candles On An Imaginary Cake!
- Pick Yourself a Fortune from the Money Trees