Episode 84: Ryan Deiss: 7 Questions I Ask Myself Before I Finish Writing Ad Copy


Ryan Deiss joins the experts to share the seven questions he asks himself when writing copy, which helps make his ads, emails, and sales copy more effective. Listen to learn how answering even just one of the seven questions can make your ad copy more deliberate, more powerful, and more likely to generate conversions.


  • How you can draw your prospects’ focused attention.
  • What hit songs and effective sales copy have in common (« And how you can quickly use this approach).
  • How answering two questions can grab attention and help create the emotion that will trigger a sale. (« Hint: They’re Questions 4 and 5).
  • The “Portal Strategy” that makes prospects more open to your message.


Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
Pre-Suasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Wizard of Ads by Roy H Williams
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
Episode 84 Transcript (swipe the PDF version here):

Keith Krance: Welcome back to Episode Number 84, and today we’ve got a special guest, founder of DigitalMarketer, Mr. Ryan Deiss. Last week, Ralph and I had a five-day event, Facebook ad certification event, and Ryan did a presentation at our event and he pulled out some notes from his Evernote file from his phone. Before he went into kind of a hot seat, he’s like, “I got these seven questions I ask myself before I finish any piece of sales copy or copy for any advertising.” He went through these things, and it was mind-boggling. It was awesome. Molly reached out and she’s like, “Do you think you’d come on the podcast and talk about some of these things?”. Ryan, thanks a lot for coming on. If you’re listening right now you’re going to love this stuff. Before we get into it, you guys, Traffic & Conversion Summit is coming around the corner. Holy smokes, just a few weeks away!



Ralph Burns: There is smoke, and it is holy.



Keith Krance: Yes.



Molly Pittman: We are officially one month away, so no one panic, but we are closing the door on tickets in a week or two, so if you want to come check it out, it is your last chance.



Keith Krance: So, Traffic & Conversion Summit. Go check it out. Ralph and I are going to be speaking a couple different times, one on Facebook video ads and another one on how to grow an agency. Hopefully, we’ll see you all there, as many of you as possible. Other than that, let’s get into some good stuff. Ryan, so what’s up with these seven things?



Ryan Deiss: It’s funny. I really get to dive in and just binge read over the holidays. I don’t know if you guys get to do that also, but it’s one of my favorite things about taking a really long break between Christmas and New Year’s. I’ll get to just read and power through a bunch of books. I was able to go back and read some of my old favorites, read some new favorites. I went back and I read Robert Cialdini’s work, and I first read Robert Cial­­dini’s book Influence as a college student and I remember thinking then like, “Wow, this is pretty powerful stuff.” It was in a psychology class, funny enough, and he released a new book called Persuasion that I just thought was really great. I went back and reread some of the Wizard of Ads books that my friend Roy Williams wrote.



  A theme that kept coming up again and again and again across all these different books that had been written at different points over the last few decades. One of the books that I read was Ogilvy on Advertising. David Ogilvy, one of the most famous admen, his theory on advertising written back in the ’60s. A theme that kept coming up again and again and again, and I’m sure it was always there, but this idea of how do you draw the focused attention from your prospect. So often when we’re writing copy and when we’re creating marketing pieces, we just start with the assumption that people are going to see this and read it. They’re going to see this, and they’re going to watch it.



  A quote that Robert Cialdini had in his book Persuasion was, “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” That was Daniel Kahneman who said that. If you think about that, nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you’re thinking about it. As humans we are taught to believe that that which is in front of us, that which is focal, that which is salient, that which is top of mind is really important even if it isn’t. It’s one of the reasons you guys talk about retargeting so much because we know that when you’re running retargeting ads and people keep seeing your ads over and over and over again, even if you’re just showing that ad to them and a small group of people, they’re thinking, “Wow, this brand is a really big deal. It’s really important.”



  I just sort of ask myself, “How do we do that? How do we draw focused attention from our prospects?” As I was going through doing all the research, I came up with a list of seven questions that I ask myself really before I finish any piece of copy, before I roll out any ad or even an email. I don’t have to have a good answer to all seven questions, but what I find is if I can answer at least one or two of them effectively then I’m going to have a much more powerful piece of marketing, a much more powerful piece of copy, a much powerful ad because it’s actually going to get viewed, right? That’s the biggest thing of all.



  You know this, Molly, when we’re writing email copy here at DigitalMarketer. One of the ways that I improve whether it’s your copy or my own copy or a new writer’s copy is I’ll go in and I’ll just lop off the top two paragraphs because invariably there’s a really brilliant idea buried in there somewhere. I do that too and you probably do that as well, so just thinking about how we are going to draw that focused attention, how are we going to make sure that our brand, our message becomes focal, that it becomes obvious that it begins to permeate the mind. That’s the big thing. That was my big realization, and these seven questions will hopefully help you do that no matter what you’re doing.



Molly Pittman: Like we always say it doesn’t really matter what buttons you click inside of Facebook, you know? We can teach you what we do, but if your offer is bad, if your marketing message is bad, it really doesn’t matter.



Keith Krance: We’ve been in so many situations with new clients where they’re not having great success. A lot of them are clients that are very successful, but their Facebook ads are not doing that well. Ninety-five times out of one hundred, it’s dialing into the stuff that Ryan is going to talk about right now so to really win, this is it. Most people, man, it’s tough to get that across to people, but this is the most important part.



Ralph Burns: If you’re going to integrate any of the seven things here from this show, I mean, if you got more than one, you’re doing pretty well. You’re probably going to be able to turn around an underperforming campaign into something that really performs.



Ryan Deiss: You guys ready for me to dive in? You want to go to question number one?



Ralph Burns: Let’s do it.



Keith Krance: Let’s do it.



Ryan Deiss: The first focusing question, again, that I ask myself any time that I’m writing copy or at the end before I click send is how do we make our offer appear novel, unique and distinctive? That’s question number one. How do we make the offer appear novel, unique and distinctive? Now this is really, really easy if the offer happens to be novel, unique or distinctive. If you truly have something brand new, if you’re truly releasing something that the market has never seen, then you get this, right? You get this, but what do you do if they have seen it before, or what do you do if you’re selling a commodity?



  I know one of our best open rates for when we’re talking subject lines is just to put something like, “Major announcement:”. You put “Major announcement:”, people are going to open it even if they don’t really care what the announcement is. Cable news has figured this out, “Breaking …” You’ll see at the bottom of the thing, “Breaking news.” We all want to know what’s the new, what’s the novel, what’s the unique. If you want to go all the way back to biology and why we feel this way, I mean typically the new is trying to kill us. We’re taught to pay attention to something that’s new. If it’s unfamiliar, it’s going to, again, capture our gaze. It’s going to draw that focused attention.



  Now if you have something that’s new, great. If you don’t, ask yourself what’s a way that you can make it feel more new. What’s a way that you can make it new. What’s an angle that you can take, or thinking about what’s going on in the news today. How can you attach your product to something that is novel, unique and distinctive even if it’s an old idea. That’s the first question. Can we make it appear or is it novel, unique and distinctive?



  Question number two, how can we make our plan seem simple? How can we make whatever it is that we have to offer seem simple and easy to understand? This is so, so, so important, and it’s something that I mess up all the time. I got to give credit to my buddy Donald Miller over at Story Brand for really hammering this through my brain, like the curse of knowledge. What seems simple to us is not simple to our customers. What seems like such an obvious and compelling idea to us isn’t that obvious to them, right?



  We need to make it simple, and this is critical because when we grasp something quickly and effortlessly, we not only like it more but we ascribe more validity and worth to it. When we grasp it, when we understand it, we don’t just like it but we believe that it’s more worthy. That’s how arrogant we are as human beings. It’s like, “Well, if I understand it then it must be true.” That’s why things like rhythm and meter and rhyme can make messages more consumable. Let’s go all the way back to the OJ Simpson trail. If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Well, I guess he’s not guilty.



Molly Pittman: It worked.



Ryan Deiss: This is really hard to do because what it means is sometimes you got to pull back on your claims. It means that you have to not explain every little nuance and detail of the product which is really, really hard if it’s your baby. I know with DigitalMarketer HQ, I want to explain all the ways in which we’ve got our LMS so that you can do the testing and the tracking and this and that, really what people want when I was talking to them. It’s like, “Oh, you’re a marketing manager? Cool.” If you have DigitalMarketer HQ, we’ll train your marketing team so you don’t have to. They don’t care about the details.



  How do you make it seem simple and easy to understand? Those are the first two, right? Novel, unique, distinctive, simple and easy to understand. Whether you’re invoking rhythm, rhyme, there’s something about it that people go, “Cool, I get it. I completely understand it.” This is one of the things that my business partner Perry Belcher is better at than anybody else, and he calls it country boy logic. He’s like, “I don’t get all fancy with this and that. I just kind of tell it like it is.”



  But if you think about our new president, right, really simple concepts. If you think about every hit, major hit song—go back and listen to them. Google the top 100 most popular songs of all time, and then listen to the chorus. You’ll find it’s made up of single syllable words. We as humans don’t just like things that are simple, we ascribe more worth and validity to them. If you can’t be new at a bare minimum, be simple. You guys ready for question number three?



Molly Pittman: Sure are.



Ryan Deiss: Question number three, what’s an opening question I can ask that when answered by the reader, by the viewer, by the listener, will trigger a desire for consistency that will drive a sale or action? This is a little bit complicated, so I’ll say it again and then unpack what it means. What’s an opening question I can ask or can be asked in the copy that when answered will trigger a desire for consistency that will drive a sale or action?



  Robert Cialdini talked about this in Persuasion. I thought it was a really great example. There was this survey company, and it’s a company that big brands will pay them to basically send people with clipboards out to the street and go, “Hey, you mind taking a survey?” You’re almost always like, “No, I really don’t want to,” or it’s a little bit awkward like—



Molly Pittman: I’m running away from you.



Ryan Deiss: Exactly. They changed the question they would ask because, again, “Do you mind taking a survey?” “Yes, I do. I don’t have time.” There’s a million ways to answer that where it doesn’t, again, draw focused attention. It’s cliché, and it’s easy to disregard. Again, remember the goal with these questions is to draw focused attention. They changed it up and they said, “Pardon me, do you consider yourself to be a helpful person? Do you consider yourself to be a helpful person?”



  Now that’s a question that when asked you really can’t say no. When asked, you’re sitting there thinking like, “Yes?” That question when answered, then they’re able to say, “Great. If so, I can really use your help. I’m trying to get answers to this survey, and it would really mean a lot to me if you could help out.” When they did that, the number of surveys that they were able to get, their basic conversation to conversion rate, when up 70 percent.



Molly Pittman: Wow.



Ryan Deiss: By asking people because, again, it’s a question that when answered triggers this need for commitment and consistency. “Yes, I’m a helpful person and because I’m helpful, I’m going to remain consistent to that, and I’m going to help you with your survey.” There is another company that they tried this out in grocery stores. They were trying to get people to do taste test samples for a new sports drink. They asked, “Do you consider yourself to be adventurous?”



  When they asked that question, people responded, “Yeah, of course,” because who wants to be like, “No, I’m freaking boring and kind of a coward,” right? “Yeah, I’m adventurous. Sure.” “Okay, cool, then you want to try this new sports drink because it’s packed with sugar.” It doesn’t make any sense, right, but that question—You want to think, and you don’t always want to open every email with a question. This can be overdone, but if you’re trying to figure out how am I going to lead off with my copy, asking an opening question that when answered will trigger a desire for consistency that will then drive a sale or action is a good way to do this.



  I did this at the start of a sales letter for a recent promotion that we did for a workshop on let’s build a predictable selling system. Let me ask you a question. Is your product or service good? Does it work? If you put it in the hands, if you put it in front of the right person, will they get a good response? If you answered yes to that question, then I want to show you how to sell a whole lot more of it. The thing of, “Is your product or service good?” Everybody pretty much unless they know they’re selling junk in which case I don’t want to help them anyway, pretty much everyone should be like, “Yeah, it’s good.” “If it’s good then great. I want to help you sell a lot more of it.” Now if you believe it’s good then you should want to sell more, and I’m here to help you do it.



Molly Pittman: It’s not just a question, right? It’s not going to work just because you’re asking a question. It has to be the right question. A good example of this, I was at an ad writing class this week, and I wrote an ad, and it was about ending the war between sales and marketing. I opened up and I said, “Do you want to end the war between sales and marketing?” You might, but it assigns no responsibility to you. It could work, but it wasn’t great. Then we took it a step further. “Are you brave enough to end the war?” Question mark. We were assigning some sort of responsibility. No one wants to say that they’re not brave enough. I think that’s a great example of what you’re saying, and it’s not just asking a question. Like you said, what’s a question you can ask that leads to the sales conversation that you want to have?



Keith Krance: I love that, and I was going to ask you, Ryan, how to transition here and you guys are already starting to answer it. The one question is like … This case, should you lead it with, “Do you consider yourself brave?” Question mark, and then maybe you lead into it, “Are you brave enough to end the war?”



Ryan Deiss: Absolutely. Questions are compelling. Questions in and of themselves will draw some attention. If you go out there and you just ask a general question, a general trivia question, that in and of itself can engage, but it engages the mind. It doesn’t necessarily engage heart. It doesn’t necessarily engage identity. When you ask someone, “Are you brave? Are you helpful? Is what you’re doing good?” Now we’ve gone that next level, and we’re not simply asking a question for the sake of a question that engages the mind. Now we’re asking a question that when they answer it, even if they’re just answering in their own mind, they’re saying something about themselves. What they’re saying about themselves, if that informs the next action that you would like for them to take, then all the better.



  Some people might listen to this and might be saying, “This seems really, really, really manipulative.” Obviously you can take this too far. I’m not saying that you can necessarily attempt to pull Jedi mind tricks on people. I think as a survey person going up to folks and saying, “Do you consider yourself to be a helpful person?” I wouldn’t want to do that. I think there’s better ways to get at that. It’s an instructive example, but to say to somebody, “Hey, is what you’re doing good? Yes or no?” If they’re sitting there really questioning, “I don’t know. I don’t want to help them.”



  Saying, “Do you consider yourself to be brave?” “Yeah, I do.” “Cool, then are you brave enough to end one of the biggest schisms that has been in business from kind of the dawn of business, kind of this schism between sales and marketing?” “Yeah, I think I am.” Prior to that, they weren’t really considering it as much, but when you engage not just their mind but you engage their heart and their identity, now they want to take action. Now they want to do something to show that they really, really mean it.



Keith Krance: In Molly’s example, the brave relates directly to the next question. It doesn’t come off as manipulative at all because it’s so related.



Ryan Deiss: Right. Certainly manipulation in and of itself shouldn’t be the goal. What we are trying to do though is we are trying to capture the attention of someone who wasn’t planning on giving it to us at that moment in time. In a sense, we are manipulating their attention. Potters are manipulating clay. If you’re doing it with a mind to try to extract something from someone that they wouldn’t want to happen, then that’s bad. If you’re exposing them to something that’s going to better their life, then I think that’s a good thing. They should be disrupted. They were probably just going to watch TV or do something stupid.



Molly Pittman: Cat videos.



Keith Krance: Exactly. Number four.



Ryan Deiss: Question number four, how do we pre-expose our audience to a concept linked to the desired emotional stimulus? How do we pre-expose our audience to a concept linked to the desired emotional stimulus? Molly did this recently in an ad that we ran at DigitalMarketer. Before I learned this concept, she did it. That’s what is so cool is once you hear these concepts, you’re going to begin seeing them. Really smart, savvy ad writers, marketers, persuaders, they do this intuitively. They do it naturally, but once you’re armed with these, you can now be deliberate.



  When we’re thinking how do we pre-expose our audience to a concept linked to a desired emotional stimulus, we have to ask ourselves what is the desired emotional stimulus? In other words, how do we want our audience to feel so that they want to make a purchase? What is their emotional state really need to be if they’re going to be here and if they want to make a move and make a purchase? I’ll give an example that Robert Cialdini gave, and then I’ll give the one that Molly did that many of you may have seen.



  He talked about this experiment that was run basically taking advantage of machismo middle-aged men. What they would do is they would have a young, attractive girl walk up to a middle-aged guy on the street and say, “Hey, these ruffians over here…” and point to a group of guys, “…Just took my cellphone. Will you help me get it back from them?” In most cases the guy looked at the girl, looked at the group of guys and went, “Yeah, no. You seem cute, you seem nice, but those guys will kill me so, sorry, you lost your phone. You might want to call the cops.”



  They got a good control. Then they wanted to see how can we increase that? How can we increase the odds that these guys will say yes and actually help out, that they’ll go against their natural tendencies. What they did is they had a different woman come up to this guy before and say, “Excuse me, can I get directions to Valentine Street? Can I get directions to Valentine Street?” Now Valentine Street was simply a street in the area. She didn’t say anything about Valentine’s Day or anything like that. She said, “Can I get directions to Valentine Street?”



  That mention of Valentine was an exposed concept. It exposed the concept that exists in western culture, his idea of Valentine’s Day equaling romance, equaling sex, equaling man help woman, man get sex from woman kind of thing, these very kind of carnal things. Instantly the number of guys that were willing to throw themselves into harm’s way on behalf of a stranger that walked up to them next to said, “Hey, can you help me get my phone back from these ruffians?” went up dramatically. I forget the exact number.



Keith Krance: So crazy.



Ryan Deiss: Was it maybe that just two women approached them? Maybe it was the two women, so they had another. They did the test again, and the first woman went up and said, “Hey, can you give me directions to Main Street?” which was a concept unlinked to Valentine’s, and now when the second woman walked up asking for help to get her phone back, it was right back to the control stage. The mere mention of Valentine Street pre-exposed the audience to a concept link to the desire to emotional stimulus which in this case was romance. This is why in every single perfume ad, they’re basically selling sex because that’s why people buy perfume and cologne. That’s the desire to emotional stimulus. How do you do it in your market?



  Molly did something recently that I knew was brilliant, and I knew it was going to work, and it did work, but I didn’t know why it worked. She ran an ad when the early bird sale was about to go away for track and conversion, and I’m guessing we’re going to run it again. If not, Molly, we should, but as Traffic & Conversion Summit is selling out, she ran an ad where the image in the ad was kind of the low battery warning on the iPhone. If you’ve ever pulled your phone out of your pocket, and it’s kind of down, and it’s 10 percent battery life, and it’s the battery on your phone, and it’s just a little sliver of red. It’s an image that if you own an iPhone, you’ve seen it, and the emotion that you feel in that is this sense of urgency like, “Oh my god. I’ve got to plug it in.”


traffic-and-conversion-summit-facebook-ad copy-ep84


  What does your phone running out of juice have to do with the fact that this event is nearly sold out? They have nothing to do with one another, just like Valentine Street has nothing to do with protecting a woman, but it exposes people to the idea, to the emotional stimulus which in this case is nervous energy, urgency, need to act now. Just by using this commonly known mental image, in this case, it exposes the desire to emotional stimulus which causes the action to take place.



Keith Krance: So cool. I’ll never forget when Molly texted that image. Ralph has gone crazy showing everybody in the agency team and stuff. I can’t believe how this is so timely where Molly was doing this right before you were building this list. That means you got somebody good on that team over there at DigitalMarketer.



Ryan Deiss: Clearly she knows what the heck she’s doing.



Molly Pittman: I think this can be applied across the board though. If you really take a step back and think about what feeling and what emotion am I wanting to portray or am I wanting this person to feel. What is something in day to day life that makes me feel that way? Like Ryan said, it doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with the ad or what you’re selling or what you’re trying to get them to do, but it’s what emotion? What’s something that they already have associated with this particular emotion that I’m trying to create with this ad? We took that a step further, and we ran an ad. We were wanting people to click to chat and Facebook message with us, so it’s just a quick, little video ad that has the little typing bubble so when you open a text and you see someone’s typing. Again, same thing.



Keith Krance: In your phone, you know when you’re texting somebody, it’ll show the bubble of them thinking about typing.



Molly Pittman: iMessage or Facebook Messenger does this, and you know this person is actually having a conversation with me. That’s a little bit less emotional, but it really portrays what we’re wanting this person to understand about the ad. I think this is very important especially in your ad creative, whether it’s an image or a video, whether on TV or Facebook or YouTube, it doesn’t matter. Thinking about through my copy and visually, how am I making this person feel, and how can my creative portray that, and what items or different thoughts or different things in our current culture can I use to shortcut that because it probably would’ve taken me five to 10 sentences of copy to really induce that scarcity feeling that the iPhone batter image could do all on its own.



Keith Krance: Let’s do number five.



Ryan Deiss: Number five is along the same lines. With number four, we basically were saying how do we pre-expose our audience to the desire to emotional stimulus. With number five, we’re asking what mental links and associations, in order words, kind of nostalgia, do we want to tap into and positively associate to our offer. Now we’re really tapping into not just emotions but we’re tapping into memories. It’s a much deeper feeling. If you’ve ever been listening to a song and almost made you cry, it wasn’t the sadness of the song. It brought you back to probably a moment in your life when you were there. That’s what nostalgia is all about.



  The reason that happens is because we as human beings create thought through associate. That is how thought occurs. It is by associating one thing with another thing. It’s, “I know to fear this because it kind of reminds me of this other thing that hurt me at one point in time, so I’m going to fear it too.” This idea of association is big. How can you associate your product, your service, with a known common experience? That’s what we’re really asking in question number five. What mental links and associations do we need to tap into and positively associate to our offer?



  You see great ads do this all the time. Great ads will do this all the time. They will tap into the memories and the feelings of an entire group of people, and then associate a product to that. That’s basically the way that Coke has been selling brown sugar water for decades. They’ve been associating this product to people’s lives, whether it’s family or friends or good times. Even if you never had that exact experience, it brings you back. To do this, you’ve got to say what are the positive associations that my audience has experienced, and now how do I bring them there?



  A good way to do that is through metaphor. Again, giving plug for my buddy Roy Williams. He said when introducing a novel or complex idea, the most important messaging decision you will make is your choice in a metaphor. When you make a metaphor, you are associating one thing to another thing that appears that it isn’t relevant. Imagery is another way to do this. If you can have an image, even if it’s just kind of there subtly in the background, but if that image harkens back to a memory or to something that happens or to somewhere that you would like to be, speaking to that positive in result, then what you are doing is you are linking, you are mentally linking, you are mentally associating your product with this positive experience, either past experience or desired future experience.



  Again, what mental links and associations do we need to tap into and positively associate to our offer? This is beyond just emotion. Emotion is powerful. If we can associate it to a real lasting memory or to a deep seated felt desire, now we have something.



Molly Pittman: Ryan, for example, we’ve been running an ad, and it’s for our Customer Avatar Worksheet. We’re just wanting people to download the template, but the ad is the guess who game that everyone has memories playing or knows what that means, right? That image has done really well because people will comment, “I loved that game. I remember that game.” We’re taking them back to this childish carefree time in their life that puts them at ease. I think that any sort of metaphor, especially if your product is hard to explain, is very, very effective.



  For example, explaining DigitalMarketer Lab as Netflix for digital marketing. That’s a really simple way to explain the product. I saw an ad the other day and it said, “Airbnb for dogs.” Immediately I knew what that was, but if they would’ve taken four or five sentences to explain it, they might’ve lost my attention. I think even the simplest way of using a metaphor to explain your product and copy, that can be incredibly effective.



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Keith Krance: Remember even during the hot seat after Ryan went through this, he spent another hour, over an hour, going through just amazing hot seats. I got a text message from Corey who was there—they’re already executing on this, but basically he used to yard sale what you suggested. I got a text message follow-up asking if I’m ready for yard sale prices related to their industry. They’re already executing it. Just that’s the kind of stuff.



Ryan Deiss: It was a really complex part of the legal code in selling to people who were doing a very specialized form of investing, but we dumbed it down to, really it’s kind of like a yard sale. You’ve gone to a yard sale or garage sale, and even if you haven’t found anything good, you know if somebody did. They’re digging through, and they wind up seeing an old Beatles album that’s worth a bunch of money or finding an old toy still in the package that’s worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, and they’re able to buy it for 25 cents.



  There’s these positive mental associations whether you experienced it, whether you know someone experienced it, or you could imagine yourself experiencing it. It’s a positive mental association that if you can link your product to, then those same positive feelings are transformed to the product and it’s instantly understood, so you also get what we talked about in question number two. It’s grasped more easily, therefore it’s trusted more rapidly. That’s question number five. Are you ready for question number six?



Keith Krance: Let’s do it. Number six.



Ryan Deiss: Question number six, how can we use open loops, also known as the Zeigarnik effect, to hold attention and leverage through the close? How do we use this idea of creating an open loop or a cliffhanger? Mystery is another way that you can do this. What’s a compelling mystery that you can leverage at the beginning of a message to hold their attention? This is something that TV has realized. I was a big fan of the TV show Lost back a few years ago. It was a really popular show in part because they would never answer one question before they asked four or five more in the same episode.



  Soap operas are famous for this. Soap operas are famous for right before the big thing happens, it fades to black or it’s, “See you next time.” This idea that we need closure, we need cognitive closure, was developed by a psychologist named Zeigarnik. She actually was eating lunch with a group of other colleagues one day, and they noticed that there was this waiter that had this almost uncanny ability to remember everyone’s order. We’ve all been to restaurants where everybody at the table is throwing different combinations of their order to the waiter, and they’re not writing anything down, and they manage to remember it all.



  They had this waiter, and they were wondering what is it about this person that makes them to where they can memorize everybody’s order. It’s amazing. They were going to ask the waiter about it. What they realized was that the waiter didn’t actually remember their order anymore. Once the waiter delivered their meal, came back around, “Hey, how’s everything going,” they’re asking him, “Hey, by the way, how did you remember that I wanted this and this and this without writing it down?” The waiter was like, “Honestly, I don’t remember even what you ordered.”



  What they realized is before you have closure, the brain keeps it open. The brain is hyperactive, and it can hold attention on a subject, even a fairly complex one, really well. The waiter was able to keep in his mind this multiple person complex order, but the second that the plate hit the table, boom, cognitive closure. Job done. Erase. Clear. We no longer have to keep that in our random access memory. Clear it. Let’s not burn any calories. Let’s move onto the next thing. If you want to hold attention, you can’t allow cognitive closure until the very end when it comes time for the close.



  If you’re going to leverage story in your marketing and in your messaging and in your advertising, that’s great, but don’t tell the story and then go into your sales message or into your marketing message. You’ve got to tell the story then weave into your message. Begin to tell the story, and then kind of hint at it, and then at the very end, you need to close off the story. You need to tell them the rest of the story. If you close the story off right there from the beginning, they’re done. Brain off. I’m no longer paying attention to you. How do you open loops? How do you tell mysteries? How do you leverage story, but the cognitive closure needs to occur at the point of sale, needs to occur when the close happens.



Keith Krance: Open loops, the Zeigarnik effect, have mystery, leave some cliffhangers, open loops. Let’s move onto number seven.



Ryan Deiss: Cool, so question number seven. This is the last and quite possibly the creepiest of all.



Molly Pittman: So the best.



Ryan Deiss: Incidentally what I just did there was a bit of an open loop. Just if you’re paying attention at home. This is the last and possibly the creepiest of all. How can we create a visual or mental portal for the prospect to pass through which will make them more open to new opportunities? How can we create a visual or mental portal for the prospect to pass through to make them more open to new opportunities? This, again, like I said, gets a little bit weird, but the reality is you probably experienced it. You’re sitting on the couch, and you get up because you need to go into another room to get something. You get up, and you walk into the new room, and when you get there you’re like, “Why the heck did I come here? What was I looking for? I don’t remember.”



  There is something kind of magical the way that our brains work. There is something fascinating and magical about moving from one room to another, passing through a door. It really does change the way that we think. It is an attention reset. This has been proven and studied in dogs. Again, Robert Cialdini talked about the very famous Pavlov dogs experiment. Everybody knows, you’ve probably heard about Pavlov dogs, the idea that he was able to associate a ringing bell to get dogs to salivate, but what a lot of people don’t realize, if you go back and read that story, is there was another kind of side conclusion.



  That was anytime that Pavlov would take his dogs into a different room to show another researcher, “Look at this thing that I figured out. I’ve trained these dogs because I would ring a bell and then feed them meat. Ring a bell and then feed them meat. Ring a bell and then feed them meat. Now anytime I just ring a bell, look, they salivate because they’ve associated bell ringing with meat eating.” He would go and take the dogs into a new room to show it to one of his colleagues, and all of a sudden the dogs would’ve salivate at the ringing bell. It no longer had the same effect. What he realized is that when you change environment, when you move from one area to another, it’s a mental reset.



  This is very, very useful if we’re trying to get people to take action. Sales people realize this. Dating people and pickup artists realize this, and use it for super uncool ways, but this is something that folks have realized for a long, long, long time. If we can get somebody to move from one place to another, they’re more likely to make a decision, and that’s this notion of portals, this idea of passing from one place to another. You’ve probably seen this if you’ve watched a product launch or something like that. You’ve seen the marketer driving in his car, and there you are in the car, and he’s explaining some stuff. You’re riding with him. You’re passing from one place to another visually, so the image of riding in a car while you’re talking to your prospects, that is a type of portal.



  Pickup artists and dating experts and douche bags throughout the world teach that a good way to increase intimacy with a member of the opposite sex is just to move from one point to another throughout a particular bar or club. They’ll say, “Let’s go over here. I want to introduce my friend. Now let’s walk over here to the bar. Let’s go outside and get some fresh air for a little bit. Now let’s go on the dance floor and dance.” Moving around, even if you’re doing it within the same four walls, in and of itself increases intimacy because you’re passing through portals together.



  If you look at art and movies, film, they get this. The best directors in the world get this. They get the idea of portals. One of the most obvious examples of this came from the Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy is transported from Kansas to Oz in the tornado, her house lands, and she goes to the door. Now you’re seeing the world through her eyes, it’s worth going back and watching, as the door swings open, and instantly everything changes from black and white to color as she passes from Kansas, the real world, into Oz. That passage through the doorway is a portal.



  If you as an advertiser can learn to leverage portals, those are visual portals, you can also do it with sound. If you got background music, maybe you have it change just slightly when you go into your close. That change in sound is a mental portal. We’re looking at doing it with a Lab offer, so DigitalMarketer Lab, Molly mentioned this, our membership. One of the ways that we described it as you’re getting access to our vault of execution plans. We’re going to have a video where you see a vault, and then the vault door opens, and you’re actually passing through into the vault, trying to create a visual portal. Visual auditory. How do you make it seem like you and your prospect are passing into another place together?



Keith Krance: Love it, love it. When he was talking about the Wizard of Oz, remember it’s not the camera from behind Dorothy. That can do that a little bit as well in some cases, but it’s basically the camera is her eyes, so you’re looking out, walking through the door as her eyes. I love the example you just said. Can you just real quick explain that a little bit more, the portal thing with the members. I love that. Is it like some kind of a visual thing where they see themselves? Does it move like a cube? How does that work?



Ryan Deiss: It’s just the idea that you want there to be some change of state. If it’s a video, and it’s a video of you talking, this can be done with, let’s say, your local business. You’re a plumber. Maybe what you say is you start outside of your building. You say, “Hi, I’m Fred, the plumber. We’re really excited. We’re doing some great stuff, but come here. I want you to come inside. I want you to meet some people.” Now the camera follows Fred, the plumber, as he opens the door and goes into the store. That’s a portal. We as human beings tend to make decisions after we have moved from one place to another. We are trained to do that.



  You think about marriage and the ceremony of marriage, the idea of walking down an aisle. You’re walking through a portal of your friends and family. You start at the back behind everyone, and you walk through this narrow portal, and you get on the other side, and if you’re the bride, there you are, standing on a stage on the other side of the portal with your husband. When you leave, you exit back through that same portal again, and you arrive there separately. You leave as husband and wife.



  It goes all the way back to the womb. Not to be overly weird and graphic, but we all come to this world through a portal. We exit through a hole in the ground. It’s just how we deal with life and death and change, and artist’s get it. You look at great art, great photography, it’s often times it’s an image on the other side, and you can get really, really creepy with this stuff. Now that you’ve seen, you’ll see it a lot more. Great directors use it. Great artists use it. Song writers will use it. When you have the bridge in a song where it changes just a little bit, that’s an auditory portal.



  All these little things in here to denote to us as human beings that, “Hey, something has changed. What was before is not the same anymore, therefore it’s okay to act and to pursue a new path.” If you don’t give them that visual auditory mental cue, then they’re less likely to make a change. Just think about it. How are you going to do that? It could be visual. It could be really, really subtle. It could be a simple thing of if you’ve got a video message or sales page, maybe it’s a background color change. It could be really subtle, but there needs to be some type of mental cue that, “Hey, we’re passing into something new together. It’s okay to make a change.”



Keith Krance: I’m just thinking of a couple of examples. A simple way to do that is maybe you have a camera, maybe it’s a regular video camera with a crew or it’s your selfie video, and then maybe you turn it around so the camera is not. You’re just holding the camera, now it’s facing out like a normal camera walking into a room. Or maybe you’re going from a face to camera for the first 15 seconds to a screen record, and then you’re looking at you with a selfie or regular camera. Then all of a sudden you take the camera and you point it at your computer. You’re zooming in on it, and then you transition to a screen flow recording so they can kind of feel that transition, just a simple thing like that. You can do this in so many ways without getting super technical. Then I’m sure we will all notice a lot of this stuff more and more.



Ryan Deiss: Question number one, how do we make our offer appear novel, unique and distinctive? Basically how do we make it appear new? That’s the first thing because remember the goal is focused attention. It doesn’t matter how great your product is. It doesn’t matter how compelling your message is. If people don’t focus on it, if they don’t hear it, if they don’t pay attention to it, it’s not going to go. How do we make our offer appear novel, unique and distinctive? We focus on the new. How do we make it new?



  Question number two, how do we make our offer seem simple and easy to understand? We love simple. We love easy to understand. If we understand it quickly and effortlessly, we like it more, and we ascribe more validity. How can we leverage things like rhythm, rhyme, all these things? The way that my kids learn their alphabet. It’s a simplifying mechanism, and we like it because of that. That’s question number two.



  Question number three, what’s an opening question that you can ask that when answered will trigger a desire for consistency and drive a sale or action. What’s an opening question that when answered will make them want to say, “Yeah, this is who I am, and therefore this is how I’m going to ask.” That’s then, “Do you consider yourself a helpful person? Do you consider yourself to be brave? Is your product or service good?” What’s an opening question that you can ask? Questions draw attention, but the questions that when answered will drive consistent action and specifically consistent action that’s consistent with what you want them to do, that’s even better. That’s question number three.



  Question number four, how do we pre-expose our audience to a concept linked to a desired emotional stimulus? How do we pre-expose our audience to make them feel a certain way? How do we link a product or service to the desired emotion? This is when Molly ran the ad that had the iPhone battery almost dead to denote that tickets were about to be sold out. The emotional stimulus there, urgency. There’s an image that denotes urgency even though it’s unrelated. Can you tell me how to get to Valentine Street? Remember Valentine Street, the mention of it made middle-aged men feel more romantic which made them willing to throw themselves into harm’s way for a woman they did not know. How do we pre-expose and then link our product to the desired emotional state? That’s question number four.



  Question number five, what mental links and associations do we need to tap into and positively associate to our offer? With question four, we talked about emotional links. With question five, we’re talking about mental links. We’re talking about memory. We’re talking about identity. These mental associations that we want to connect our product to, the metaphors that we want to use, the memories and the nostalgia that we want to tap into. What is that? Thinking about what is a common experience that our market has shared that we can link our product to in a positive way. That’s question number five.



  Question number six, how can we use open loops, also known as the Zeigarnik effect, to hold attention and leverage the close to create that cognitive closure that our brain so desperately desire? Here we’re talking about things like mystery. We’re talking about story but a story where you don’t give up the ending until you’re done talking about your product or service. That’s how we capture, hold attention, that’s how we truly leverage story. You don’t just tell a story. You tell a story, you talk about the product, you close the story, and the close of the story draws them to the action.



  Then, finally, and most creepily, how can we create a visual or mental portal for the prospect to pass through that when they do makes them open to new opportunities? Is it a visual thing? Are we walking with them? Are we showing them passing through a door? Is it a change in background, tone and music? What is the signal that we’re giving to make people say, “Now it’s time to make a change.” We’re not just getting focused but we’re directing it to the right place.



  I believe that if you ask yourself these questions before you finish writing a piece of copy, before you finish crafting an ad, before you finish drafting an email and click send, I think you’re going to have a much more powerful messaging. You’re going to find hooks that you had previously missed or ignored or not capitalized on. I just think you’re going to make a lot more sales. If your product or service is good, which I hope it is, then you’re going to make a lot more people happier. That’s what I got.



Keith Krance: Awesome stuff here. One question real quick. Do they have to try to get all seven of these?



Ryan Deiss: Great question. No. I don’t know if it’s possible, and it certainly isn’t necessary. I think if you can get one or two, you’re going to be doing a heck of a lot better than your competitors and probably a lot better than you’re doing currently.



Keith Krance: Perfect, perfect. Love it. Ryan, awesome stuff. Thanks for coming on. Thanks again for coming out to the event. Molly, thank you to you, and we will talk to you guys soon.



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