Book notes from Joe Vitale’s Hypnotic Writing. Let’s get weird.
Joe’s definition of hypnosis is simple: anything that holds your attention. Books, movies, songs, sales letters.
Hypnosis is a tool. It’s not evil. It never removes choice. You can’t be made to do something under hypnosis that you didn’t already wanna do while awake. In marketing, yes, it gives you an edge. But if you use it to sell a lousy product, it won’t help at all. You want to learn hypnotic writing because it helps you get and hold attention, and makes you a better communicator.
Every time you state a fact, describe how that fact will benefit the other person. Translate what you want to say into simple words and concepts that make sense to your readers. Get out of your ego and into your reader’s.
You’ve heard it before: we buy from people we like. Knowing that, one of the greatest secrets of hypnotic writing is intimacy. Letting your personality come through. To do this, write loose. Don’t edit-out your voice. Trust yourself, be yourself, express yourself.
You can’t create a hypnotic state without agreement. Get ’em into a yes mindset. Seeing the word, thinking, even saying yes.
People are self-centered. We all walk around in our own state of hypnosis, created by our beliefs, experiences, thoughts, and actions. So, as a hypnotic writer, you must be aware of this and meet the reader where they are, mentally.
Show the reader his or her dreams. You’re their screenwriter.
In general, the more you charge, the more copy you need to sell it effectively. People will read as many words as you provide as long as you make it interesting. But how? Three questions to keep in mind: (1) Who cares? (2) So what? (3) What’s in it for me? Try to answer each of these before you even begin writing – while doing your research.
Repetition is hypnotic. Repeat your main points often. Don’t be afraid to re-say something. The more you repeat your offer or the main reasons for buying it, the more you’ll influence your reader’s unconscious mind.
Three steps to “inner writing”: (1) Set a goal. (2) Be aware of the moment. (3) Trust what happens.
Find writing you love – anything you think is hypnotic – and copy it word for word. It’s the best way to absorb the subtleties and strategies of other hypnotic writers. Like exercise, do this daily for best results.
Five tips to write when you don’t feel like it: (1) Just begin. Put pen to paper, even if it’s gibberish at first. (2) Don’t edit. Dim your computer screen so you can’t see the words you’re typing. Be raw. Be courageous. Say what you wanna say. Only edit after you’ve put it all out there. (3) Write a letter. To a friend, to mom, doesn’t matter. Just pretend it’s a letter to someone you know well and are comfortable with. This takes the pressure off of writing for the public. (4) Use a prompt. Like because, and, or or. When you get stuck, pick a prompt, and hopefully propel yourself into the next thought. (5) Relax. Close your eyes. Take a few breaths. Stretch your body.
You create hypnotic writing in the rewriting stage. You take what you have and whittle it, sculpt it, polish it to perfection. So that each line kills. So that your reader is nailed to the page. You don’t have a choice. There’s too many distractions in the world to risk mediocre writing.
Make your writing come alive. It should walk, talk, and breathe. Tools to help with that are: thesauruses, simile books, analogy books, quote books.
People trip over long words. Don’t use anything you wouldn’t say in a normal conversation.
Do your research and give the facts. Deal with the real world. Don’t use words as sleight-of-hand devices to mislead readers.
The unconscious mind is simple, unaffected, straightforward, and honest. Childish even. Speak to that.
Five tips for breakthrough copy: (1) See the events. Visualize what you’re writing about and your words will naturally fit that image. (2) Write to one person. An individual. Builds rapport. (3) Get excited. Feel your message. Let emotion seep in. Be animated and alive as you write. (4) Get to the point. Say what you have to say with the fewest words possible. Again, write to hold a child’s attention and you’ll satisfy everyone. (5) Don’t judge. Your readers cast the deciding vote on what you write, not you.
Perfection is your enemy. Do your best and keep it moving. Go for results. Besides, the more you write, the better you become.
Ten ways to persuade readers: (1) Know what you want. State your objective then make sure everything you write supports it. (2) Emotional appeal. Break people out of whatever’s on their mind so they can hear what you have to say. (3) Give ’em what they want. Benefits, not features. (4) Ask questions that support your objective. “If I could write an ad that’s guaranteed to make you more money, would you be interested?” (5) Use word pictures, vivid details, senses. (6) Use testimonials. The more specific they are, the better. (7) Remind them of the problem and your solution. (8) Add a P.S. It’s the most read and the first read part of any letter. So use it wisely. (9) Be visually attractive. Format for extreme readability. (10) Be sold on what you’re selling. You can’t sell what you don’t believe in. Enthusiasm sells people.
Seven editing secrets: (1) Cut off their heads. Look at your first few paragraphs. Necessary? If not, axe ’em. (2) Cut off their feet. Ditto last couple paragraphs. (3) Cut out every sixth word. Figuratively. Trim, trim, trim. (4) Take Stephen King’s advice: hand a draft to 10 friends, ask for feedback, and take recurring suggestions seriously. (5) Ask someone to read it out loud to you. Watch and listen. Where do they stumble? Edit those parts. (6) Take a break. Put some distance between you and your work. Come back to it later with fresh eyes and new ideas. (7) Ask: Can I do better? If so, do so. Push yourself.
Four ways to make your writing sexy: (1) Use bullets. (2) Use quotes. (3) Use itsy-bitsy paragraphs. (4) Use boxes.
Use stories to slip in past people’s mental radar. Let someone else – in the story – prove your points, without you having to make them.
As you write, ask: What’s my reader thinking right now? Then, anticipate and address or answer.
Don’t bore people with reasons to buy. Give them one hypnotic command that always works. Know the exact one thing your prospects want and tie everything to it. Write it like a headline: short, engaging, relevant. One tight line is all it takes. The rest of the copy builds off this.
Tell readers you’re about to reveal something important, then switch subjects and come back to it later. Copy cliffhangers if you will. Work every time.
Conflict is hypnotic. We love reading about fights, feuds, drama, adversity. Starting an ad or email with a simple line like: “I got into a fight with my neighbor” is sure to suck people in.
An effective story is a Trojan horse for your ideas. They sneak in, undetected, if you tell it right. Remember: we’re more committed to what we conclude than what we are told. Rather than saying someone cares about the environment, for example, tell a story of them stopping their car in the middle of a busy street to pick up a piece of trash. See the difference? In the latter, the reader decides, for himself, wow, lil’ homie loves the planet! Way more powerful.
Engage people with questions. The more open-ended the better. Meaning, try to avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no.
Thirty-one hypnotic headline words/phrases: announcing, astonishing, at last, exciting, exclusive, fantastic, fascinating, first, free, guaranteed, incredible, initial, improved, love, limited offer, powerful, phenomenal, revealing, revolutionary, special, successful, super, time-sensitive, unique, urgent, wonderful, you, breakthrough, introducing, new, how-to.
Hypnotic Headline Ideas
Lead with these opening words.
- At last!
There’s a hint of excitement and news in these words.
Round up your audience.
- Sore feet?
Pretty self-explanatory – call ’em in.
Promise a benefit.
- Free from backache in 10 minutes
- Buy one shirt – get the second free
- Land a job in 2 days with new method
Remember, people buy benefits, not features. They don’t want a pill, they want to be pain-free.
Make it newsworthy.
- Major breakthrough in car safety
- New formula restores hair
- Seven “lost secrets” discovered
Reveal the newsworthiness of your product or service and you will get attention.
Offer something free.
- Free to writers!
- Free report explains tax loopholes
- Free book on car repairs
Just make sure it’s truly free – no strings attached – to avoid any legal trouble.
Ask an intriguing question.
- What are the seven secrets to success?
- Do you make these mistakes in English?
- Which gas filter will boost your car’s performance?
Again, has to be open-ended and hint at a benefit or they’ll ignore it.
Lead with a testimonial.
- “This is the most powerful weapon I’ve ever seen.” – Clint Eastwood
- “These two books made me the wealthiest man alive.” – Malcolm Forbes
- “Here’s why my race car beats all others.” – Mark Weisser
Dialogue has life and that attracts people.
Create a how-to headline.
- How to get your kids to listen
- How to tell when your car needs a tune-up
- How to win friends and influence people
People are easily drawn to information which reveals a benefit they want.
Quiz your readers.
- How smart are you? Take this quiz and see.
- What is your networking IQ?
- Are you qualified for success?
Involvement is how hypnosis begins and deepens.
Use the words “these” and “why.”
- These boats never sink
- Why our dogs cost more
- Why these skis are called “perfect”
Plays on curiosity.
Use the words “I” and “me/my.”
- They laughed when I sat down at the piano – but when I started to play!
- I finally discovered the secret to easy writing
- Everywhere I stick my nose I make money
First-person headlines work great if they create enough curiosity and hold a benefit.
Put your product name in your headline.
- How Gymco Vitamins make runners lightning fast
- The Fiskin Ladder saved my husband’s life
- Thoughtline helped me discover the secret to easy writing
This is more interesting and specific and also acts like an insurance policy in case they don’t read the entire ad – at least they know your product now.
Use the word “wanted.”
- Wanted – nervous people
- Wanted – safe men for dangerous times
- Wanted – executives ready for sudden profits
It’s a hypnotic, attention-getting word.
Use the word “breakthrough.”
- A breakthrough in alarm systems
- Doctor offers breakthrough hair loss formula
- Wanted – attorneys ready for breakthrough success
It suggests superiority.
Ask “who else?”
- Who else wants to write a book?
- Who else used to say singing was hard?
- Who else wants a fail-safe burglar alarm?
Implies someone else has already done or gotten it, and the reader can too.
Admit a weakness.
- We’re number two. We try harder.
- This chef makes everything except salads.
When you confess you’re not perfect, you gain credibility.
Focus on a positive end result.
- Whiter teeth in 10 days
- 35 pounds slimmer in 30 days
This works better and is more ethical than leading with a negative, like, “Yellow teeth are ugly.”
Dramatize the benefit.
- Stop sleeping like a sardine; now sleep like a king!
- “Sound Pillow” lets you sleep with Neil Diamond
People want and crave action. Show the excitement your product or service can provide.
- Just picture ___
- Just imagine ___
- Can you imagine ___
- Picture yourself five years from now ___
- Wouldn’t it be amazing if ___
- Remember when you were in high school ___
- After you have read this short article, you will feel ___
- As you scan every word of this webpage, you will begin to discover new ways of ___
- As you start reading the beginning of this article you find yourself ___
- You probably know ___
- You’re intelligent enough to know ___
- Everyone knows ___
- As you absorb this information, you’ll ___
- Have you noticed yet that ___
- Wouldn’t it be amazing if ___
When composing your hypnotic writing, be careful to lead your reader’s mind where you want it to go. How you describe your offer, product, or price is how they’ll perceive it; and perception is reality.
That’s it for these notes on Hypnotic Writing. Another book you might enjoy is Words That Sell by Richard Bayan. Peep it here.