Master Interrogator Got 90% "Conversions" Through Persuasion, Not Punishment

by 5 comments
I came across this article on WWII German interrogator Hans Scharff this morning.

Scharff worked with Allied airmen shot down in the latter half of WWII and was known for his unique method of creating the illusion that he already knew everything about a prisoner's activities. He would build rapport with captives through such unusual methods as taking them on guided tours through the forest, zoo trips, and flights on German fighter planes.

Scharff bragged that by using these methods he could "break" 90% of the prisoners he worked with. Pretty good conversion rate.

It got me thinking about different approaches in sales and direct response advertising. There's a stark contrast between appealing to prospects through reward versus using fear and punishment as a hook in an ad...

What have some of your experiences been using these different approaches in your own work? Are there some niches where playing on the fears of prospects is actually more effective?

I think Scharff's results prove that it's better to befriend prospects and promise them a "better way," but I know there are effective ways to take an adversarial tone with prospects in an ad as well. Interested in any thoughts!
#copy writing #90% #conversions #copywriting #interrogation #interrogator #master #persuasion #punishment #techniques

  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
    His approach sounds very much like current best email marketing techniques ... give away value and the "client" will feel an obligation to do something in return.

    Very interesting, and thanks for the share!

    Marvin
  • Profile picture of the author deezn
    Originally Posted by Marvin Johnston View Post

    His approach sounds very much like current best email marketing techniques ... give away value and the "client" will feel an obligation to do something in return.

    Very interesting, and thanks for the share!

    Marvin
    Reciprocity, Cialdini's #1 influence trigger
  • Profile picture of the author Steve The Copywriter
    Yes, Reciprocity.

    And Rapport.

    2 potent forces.


    Steve
  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    It got me thinking about different approaches in sales and direct response advertising. There's a stark contrast between appealing to prospects through reward versus using fear and punishment as a hook
    Never use fear. It's addictive and has nasty come-backs. Empathy rules, and your clients will like you for it too.

    Now, I was about to buy that farmhouse near Colditz in Sachsen. I think there's a job opportunity. Ja, wohl!
  • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
    Well, here's the thing. In certain niches and markets, fear is a very powerful and effective motivator. Health and nutrition and financial for example. How effective have recent financial promotions been that talk about the coming debt crisis, the end of the world as we know it, etc ... Or for example diet and nutrition marketing that plays up on the fears of prospects. Hell, I even got an email from one health marketer yesterday that warned if I went on another diet, it could kill me. And that came from someone who certainly knows what they are doing.

    So again, different markets certainly warrant different approaches. Thanks for everyone's comments!

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