What’s scary is that the dumb side has way too much influence over the decisions we make. This is particularly true when it comes to our hopes for the future.
To illustrate what I mean, let’s look at an example.
Imagine two experts, both of whom are going to give us some advice on how to lose weight. Specifically, they are going to tell us how to lose 10 lbs over the course of the next 30 days.
The first expert is a doctor and researcher who has been studying weight loss for 30 years.
He talks about the multiple influences involved – genetics, food choices, exercise, family dynamics, mental health, work stresses, time of year and so on. He explains the complexity of weight loss and how one plan might work for one person, but not for another.
He makes some general recommendations, but again qualifies his advice by pointing out the multiple variables involved.
Now for our second expert. He may be a doctor, or not. It doesn’t really matter.
He ignores all the variables and complexities of weight loss. Instead, he talks about a miracle herb that has been taken for centuries by an inaccessible tribe in the forests of Indonesia. He tells a compelling story. He shares anecdotal evidence of how making a simple tea with this herb can help you shed weight effortlessly, and automatically bring you down to your ideal weight.
As for his advice, he suggests you buy some of this tea right now. You won’t have to change your lifestyle at all. It doesn’t matter what you eat or whether you exercise. Just drink the tea and prepare to be amazed.
Above all, the second expert offers certainty. Drink the tea and you’ll lose weight.
While reading this, I imagine it is self-evident that the first expert is the one we should believe.
However, that first expert will never get on TV, but the second one will.
The first one will never have a bestselling book, but the second one will.
The first one will never make a million dollars sharing his expertise, but the second one will.
As I mentioned at the beginning, we all have a smart side to our brains, and an incredibly dumb side.
The dumb side craves certainty. We want to know, for certain, that we can lose 10 lbs in a month. We want to know what the price of our home will be in five years. We want to know who will win the Superbowl. We want to know if we will find love soon.
And as soon as we want to know something, we seek out answers.
We don’t want uncertain answers. We want certainty.
We are so vulnerable to our need for certainty – even if it doesn’t exist – we’ll turn the nearest charismatic person – true expert or not - who gives us a certain answer with absolute confidence.
At this point, the dumb side of our brain takes almost total control of our decision-making. Regardless of the fact that our smart side knows we are being suckered in, and that there is no certainty in life, particularly when looking into the future, our dumb side prevails.
The same is true of many of the choices we make.
As another example, consider two presidential hopefuls, both of whom are promoting a plan to create 1,000,000 new jobs within a year of taking office.
Our first contender is professorial and knows his economics. He has a plan, but knows that a year is a long time in politics, not to mention the global financial scene. He shares his plan, but qualifies his projection by being honest about the fact that many things can change over the course of 12 months.
Our second contender has no knowledge of economics, but exudes total confidence, ups the ante by promising 2,000,000 new jobs, looks straight into the TV camera and promises he can create all those new jobs, with absolute certainty.
The first guy appeals to the smart side of our brains. The second guy appeals to the dumb side.
Who is going to get the most votes? The second guy, of course.
The dumb side of our brains overwhelms the smart side. We give in to our craving for certainty.
To know this about people, ourselves included, gives you the most powerful tool of all when writing sales copy.
Offer certainty. Write with absolute confidence. Don’t distract the reader with complexities or variables.
I’m not suggesting you be dishonest. Far from it. Instead, look through the facts and find a thread, a story, that can be told simply, without any ifs, buts or maybes.
If you are a freelancer, use the same approach when marketing your services. Find a way to promote yourself that offers certainty.
Will my advice make a difference to the results you achieve? Yes it will. It’s money in the bank. No ifs, buts or maybes.
NOTE: For more on writing website sales copy, read about my ebook, Writing Kick-Ass Website Sales Copy.
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…