Politicians, by and large, say absolutely nothing. They give long speeches, and rely solely on the fact that reporters want the quotes, combined with their powers of rhetoric to spin out a tale that doesn’t really give the listener anything they didn’t already know.
I find this really annoying, but as with nearly every experience, there’s a lesson to be learned from everything. Even annoying politicians and their silver tongues.
So, I’ve been thinking about what I can learn from having being exposed to this sort of thing constantly.
Here’s something I’ve formulated from doing so.
Do you want to know how to get people to agree to the most ridiculous things without having to actually do anything?
A truism is a statement so blindingly obvious that it reveals nothing.
It’s also a great basis for getting people on your side without doing much work.
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Words can be used for all sorts of devilish, fiendish schemes, but let’s concentrate on the relatively mundane world of convincing people to part with their hard-earned cash here.
As a copywriter, content marketer or business person, there are assumptions within your market that are obvious to every single consumer and potential customer.
They’re also universal truths that speak to everyone, everywhere. Things like “You can buy many things, but you can’t buy yourself more time.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or rich, young or old, male or female… the above statement is true. That’s what makes it a great line for hooking people. We’ll talk about that more later, but here’s a set of basic examples for a couple of niches that I’ve just thought of while writing this.
There’s another boom period on the horizon.
There’s another recession on the horizon.
Your money doesn’t go as far as it used to.
Do you want to earn more money?
Have you ever wondered about your retirement?
Are you sick and tired of everyone around you playing “Keeping up with the Joneses?”
There’s another recession on the horizon.
At some point… it’s all going to come crashing down.
Very few people see how bad things are. (This works in every niche.)
Notice how the government has done something bad recently? That’s just the first step.
What would a [historical peasant from some time] have thought about the world before [disaster struck?]
If the end came tomorrow, wouldn’t you want to be one of the prepared ones?
A healthier life is a happier one.
You will gain more respect if you respect yourself (and your body) more.
Nobody ever regretted being healthier, fitter, stronger or better looking.
Do you want to be healthier?
Do you want to be leaner/sexier/better looking/stronger/thinner (whatever else… this niche is like shooting fish in the barrel with these statements because we’re all so vain. Just change the words for your audience; girls don’t want to be “bigger” and “stronger” ever, and men don’t want to be “skinny” and most of them don’t care about being fit either.)
Have you ever felt intimidated by (school bully/ripped guy in the gym/hoodlums on the street corner/that creepy guy at your office/etc.)?
How to Use Pithy Statements, Truisms and Other Oddities
Firstly, you can take the above lists, make them better and add to them. You’ll find that universal statements can bring loads of other ideas into your head immediately.
You can use them as leading statements or “big ideas” for a long-form sales letter draft.
Or you can just put them on Twitter without further comment and wait for the retweets to roll in.
Hell, you can probably grow an Instagram account into the millions just by pasting them over a picture of a sunset.
Finally, and most importantly, you can use statements like the above to build an escalation ladder. Think about an obese person reading your killer sales letter about the latest weight loss pill.
They’re jaded, cynical and whilst they’re possibly your target market, you know that their commitment to weight loss probably isn’t that high, what with them being obese and all.
So you can’t really lead with, “Hey Fat-ass. Get off the god damned sofa, stop eating those Doritos and work your lard off… by the way, these weight loss pills will help!”
You’re going to get a lot of Red X clicks if you try that strategy.
You’re probably not going to succeed with the “Miracle weight loss pill helps obese guy/girl from [their city] lose 10lbs overnight!” story either because the weight loss market is suspicious because of all those headlines.
But let’s say they click the headline in the hope that there really is a cure.
You have them for those first two sentences. Don’t waste those words on stuff that’ll have the click away.
Use truisms because you want them either thinking, “Yeah… I always thought that” or better yet, “That’s so obvious!”
Nobody reads something they agree with and says “I can’t believe this idiot believes the same as me!”
Make It Easy On Yourself
If you start off with statements that are obviously true or questions that are obviously rhetorical, you’re getting the person on the “yes” ladder without having to work with it.
Unless you’re selling a dodgy product and trying to weed out the non-gullible or going for a very hard sell “This is only for totally awesome millionaires” then you want as many on the “yes” ladder as possible.
When you use truisms, they by their nature appeal to almost everyone.
“Nobody ever regretted getting in shape” is a truism. But it’s an “Ok, I agree” for all but the most diehard body-positive people.
“Do you want to lose weight?” is an alternative starting statement… but one that’ll turn more people off immediately.
You can always stack truisms and then hit the person with the above question.
“Nobody ever regretted getting in shape…
A healthy body is a happy body.
Losing weight has made a difference in my life because…
… and 90% of people want to lose at least 10lbs.
If I were to reveal the secret of how to lose weight quickly, effectively and without doing any exercise, answer me one question:
Do you want to lose weight?”
Adjusted for me not making those up on the fly and them actually being good, you’ll get a better response from the above than you will from just leading with “Do you want to lose weight?”
That’s because the reader has already agreed with you and you’ve created an argument and rapport. You’ve done this without any effort and – as is true of all truisms – you’re not really saying anything that they didn’t know already.
Getting people to agree with you is a valuable skill. Doing it without putting much effort in is even better.
Once a person has agreed with you once, then they’re more likely to agree with you again. This is useful whether you’re an idealist trying to usher in a new age of prosperity and equally useful when you’re selling a $9.95 e-book.
It’s totally possible to create swipe folders of pithy statements, truisms and proverbs that you can rewrite and use over and over again with repeated success.
So why wouldn’t you do this?