What's your interpretation of this famous marketing quote?

24 replies
I'm sure that almost everyone here has heard this famous Robert Collier quote from somewhere or other, as it's one of the most famous ideas in marketing:

"Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind."

Now personally, I give this piece of advice a LOT of thought, and I've read the "Robert Collier Letter Book" which that quote is from many, many times.

I apply it to my work constantly, and I think it's been of great benefit to my own business and that of my clients.

But there's another quote that I've come to like:

"The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished." - George Bernard Shaw (by way of Andy Jenkins)

So what I'm wondering is, what do YOU think Collier MEANS with this quote and how would YOU go about applying it?

The reason I ask is because recently, I've been talking to people I know about Collier's famous rule, and I was surprised to find that there is a huge amount of room for interpretation there.

I mean, any time you talk to someone about the inside of their own head, they will immediately think they know what you mean - but since the inside of everyone's head is unique, how do you know what you thought I meant is what I really meant?

Kind of strange, I know. But still valuable. Here's why:

Several of the answers I've gotten have drastically altered my understanding of what Collier meant and why he phrased his lesson this way. I'll share some of those interpretations later, if this thread gets some response - for now, I don't want to color your opinion before you share your interpretation.

So please share, what do YOU think Collier meant? Thanks in advance!
#advice #famous #marketing #robert collier
  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    Based on what's going on in my head - I'd say whenever we are facing a decision-making moment (e.g. to buy or not to buy) we are running a kind of cons and pros checklist in our mind. It's like myself and my alterego having a conversation:
    - I should by it because...
    - I should NOT buy it because...

    Now, if you can "enter" that conversation adding convincing arguments on the YES side - you'll, probably, win, i.e. make a sale.

    But then again, depending on the target person, the arguments could be very different.
    E.g. I am immune to any emotional approach (brings out the healthy cynical, skeptical half of me) but I would pay a lot of attention to a rational, logical line of thoughts. Because that's how I reason...

    I know, it's a simplistic approach but it should illustrate the main point.

    It still leaves the question: which type of conversation should you enter?
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

    I'm sure that almost everyone here has heard this famous Robert Collier quote from somewhere or other, as it's one of the most famous ideas in marketing:

    "Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind."

    Now personally, I give this piece of advice a LOT of thought, and I've read the "Robert Collier Letter Book" which that quote is from many, many times.

    I apply it to my work constantly, and I think it's been of great benefit to my own business and that of my clients.

    But there's another quote that I've come to like:

    "The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished." - George Bernard Shaw (by way of Andy Jenkins)

    So what I'm wondering is, what do YOU think Collier MEANS with this quote and how would YOU go about applying it?

    The reason I ask is because recently, I've been talking to people I know about Collier's famous rule, and I was surprised to find that there is a huge amount of room for interpretation there.

    I mean, any time you talk to someone about the inside of their own head, they will immediately think they know what you mean - but since the inside of everyone's head is unique, how do you know what you thought I meant is what I really meant?

    Kind of strange, I know. But still valuable. Here's why:

    Several of the answers I've gotten have drastically altered my understanding of what Collier meant and why he phrased his lesson this way. I'll share some of those interpretations later, if this thread gets some response - for now, I don't want to color your opinion before you share your interpretation.

    So please share, what do YOU think Collier meant? Thanks in advance!
    Hey Colin...

    I think you might be over thinking this a bit. To me, the meaning
    of Collier's statement is simple and obvious. Through proper research
    we learn about the nature and specifics of a particular problem our
    target market needs solving. We then offer the solution. Thus, we
    enter the conversation they're having in their head regarding that
    particular problem.

    Tsnyder
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by Tsnyder View Post

      Hey Colin...

      I think you might be over thinking this a bit. To me, the meaning
      of Collier's statement is simple and obvious. Through proper research
      we learn about the nature and specifics of a particular problem our
      target market needs solving. We then offer the solution. Thus, we
      enter the conversation they're having in their head regarding that
      particular problem.

      Tsnyder
      Well, the reason I'm asking this isn't to find the single "correct" interpretation. Now, I do HAVE an opinion on what Collier really meant, and that IS different that what you described.

      But you really do make both my points earlier in that:

      1. The statement is such that you feel like you INSTANTLY know what it means, even though it's a pretty ambiguous statement.

      and

      2. Given an ambiguous statement, any interpretation that proves useful is equally valid.

      Now normally, the kinds of statements that people can have all sorts of useful interpretations about are typically difficult ideas that the reader really needs to think about to interpret.

      That's what's so great about Collier's is that everyone INSTANTLY thinks they know what it means, even though everyone actually has a different idea. For example, the 3 people posting in this thread ALL have different interpretations so far.

      But they are all useful, don't you think?

      P.S. I don't believe there's any such thing as "overthinking" unless the thinking is keeping you from acting. Otherwise, the more thought, the better. It's an integral part of the philosophy of working smarter, not harder.
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      • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
        Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

        For example, the 3 people posting in this thread ALL have different interpretations so far.
        Not really...

        Kevin_Hutto described a broader approach, taking into consideration the 4 main personality types - while I gave a personal account of what he labeled as "Analytical". At least, I think so
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        • Profile picture of the author Martin Luxton
          Who are the participants in this conversation?

          Is it the potential customer arguing with him/herself? Or wanting the product but thinking of a way to "sell" it to his/her other half. Or maybe even s/he's talking to the sales page?

          Martin
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin_Hutto
    If you want to take this to the extreme...

    there are generally 4 personality types (Driver, Expressive, Amiable, Analytical) which have 4 distinctly different conversations going on in their respective heads... If you could create the perfect sales letter (similar to eben pagans psychic sales letter) -- it would recognize which prospect is reading your copy and enter the conversation that is in each of the four heads in four different ways. The Driver(think CEO) just wants you to cut the crap and bottom line it for them -- if they need it they will buy it. The Expressive(Think salesman) is all about having fun and experience -- they do well with high level visionary type copy (love images and video) and sell them on how fun their life will be once they reap the benefit, etc... The Amiable(think nurse or assistant) wants to help out. Many times they are more motivated by how good they will feel helping others -- very consciencious -- want to know that they are making a difference. Lastly, The Analytical (Think CFO) wants all the facts and figures -- they want charts, stats and all the details -- they want a logical argument...

    Bottom line, there is usually no uniform dialogue going on in the prospects mind -- however in many cases your product is more geared towards one personality type... so it is relatively easy to make an educated guess at the conversation going on in your prospects mind...
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  • Profile picture of the author Griffon
    I think the number one conversation that most people have in their mind, ESPECIALLY online is this:

    "Do I trust this person? Should I believe what I am reading? Is this a lie, or will this be useful to fulfill my want/need?"

    Because there is no face to face communication, this is always the biggest issue in any person's buying decision, especially online or over the phone. Video's attempt to address this, but they are highly controlled and easily manipulated, so the advantage is all for the marketer. If they didn't WANT the product, they wouldn't even be considering it, and would thereby not be having any conversation.

    Trust is always the biggest factor in ANY buying decision.

    Hope this helps a little.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    Unless you only want to include people who have read this book, asking people for an interpretation of one sentence without knowing the context in which it was used is like asking someone if the pie is good without letting them taste it.

    Why not share the context and tell us what you think it means, and let the discussion progress without the guessing game?
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

      Based on what's going on in my head - I'd say whenever we are facing a decision-making moment (e.g. to buy or not to buy) we are running a kind of cons and pros checklist in our mind.
      It's interesting you say this, and I used to think the same thing - that we have this conversation when we're making decisions. However, now I think that this conversation doesn't happen at all until after we've already decided, and we're justifying or rationalizing after the fact.

      Now we may not have BOUGHT, but we DECIDED that we WANT TO. A very important distinction that I think a lot of marketing people and teachers miss out on is that the point at which you decide to purchase, and the point at which you actually purchase can be quite far apart.

      Sometimes you DON'T want this to be the case (like when someone's reading a salesletter) but sometimes you DO (like when you're doing a launch and you're trying to build suspense). And again, I'm not saying you're wrong, I just see it a different way that I've found helpful.


      Originally Posted by Tsnyder View Post

      I think you might be over thinking this a bit.
      I just wanted to add that I thought this was especially funny, since my own actual interpretation is even simpler than yours, lol.

      Originally Posted by Kevin_Hutto View Post

      Bottom line, there is usually no uniform dialogue going on in the prospects mind -- however in many cases your product is more geared towards one personality type... so it is relatively easy to make an educated guess at the conversation going on in your prospects mind...
      I don't think this is true, because if I'm not aware of these personality distinctions you've made, I'm not really going to try to create a product that's geared for one of them, nor would I be able to guess which that is. I do very strongly agree that the internal dialogue going on from person to person is not uniform and can't be universally addressed. However, the contexts in which we OPEN our minds to allow new information into those conversations is roughly the same.

      It's less important that you get this prediction of the contents of their conversation correct than it is to find a position from which to ENTER that conversation. You don't have to agree with them at all really, as long as you establish a platform which they are inclined to trust. I didn't say "like" - there are many roles that a marketer can take on that have influence without friendliness.

      And like I said earlier, I'd love to hear if you recall where you saw the Merrill-Reid Social Styles applied to copy.

      Originally Posted by dave147 View Post

      Know the answers to the questions they are going to ask. What questions do you think they are going to ask - know the answers before they ask.
      Very zen. Yeah, those are useful questions to ask, but you should know that in my experience, you can never EVER get the answers right. You can guess, but you can't ever KNOW. And it's also possible to succeed very well, even IF you get the answers wrong.

      Originally Posted by Martin Luxton View Post

      Who are the participants in this conversation?

      Is it the potential customer arguing with him/herself? Or wanting the product but thinking of a way to "sell" it to his/her other half. Or maybe even s/he's talking to the sales page?

      Martin
      See, this is a good question. This I think is what led me to think about the quote in the first place, because modern readers add in a lot of psychological information trying to answer that question, using lots of theory and thought that were never available (or necessarily even interesting) to Collier.

      Now, whether or not Collier thought about it, my own thinking is that we speak internally and mentally to ourselves in our own voices. However, the things we say come from outside, typically sources we trust. However, once they cross the barrier of the mind, we experience them ALL as a single internal conversation, much as Istvan described. So who do we trust? Ourselves, family, friends, and tribesmen. That's it. If you can position yourself in one of those roles, you have all the foothold you need to persuade someone of nearly anything. It's less important that you know WHAT they say inside than it is for you to BE one of the people whose voices are assimilated. Then it doesn't matter what they were saying before, does it?

      Originally Posted by Griffon View Post

      I think the number one conversation that most people have in their mind, ESPECIALLY online is this:

      "Do I trust this person? Should I believe what I am reading? Is this a lie, or will this be useful to fulfill my want/need?"

      Because there is no face to face communication, this is always the biggest issue in any person's buying decision, especially online or over the phone. Video's attempt to address this, but they are highly controlled and easily manipulated, so the advantage is all for the marketer. If they didn't WANT the product, they wouldn't even be considering it, and would thereby not be having any conversation.

      Trust is always the biggest factor in ANY buying decision.

      Hope this helps a little.
      Awesome post - you're speaking my language here because it's about ENTERING the conversation - as in YOU personally making an ENTRY into a conversation. Not just saying something, but physically being a present and recognizable speaker, and one that's worthy of trust. That's kind of what I was trying to say just now, but I think you did it better. Kudos!

      Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

      Unless you only want to include people who have read this book, asking people for an interpretation of one sentence without knowing the context in which it was used is like asking someone if the pie is good without letting them taste it.

      Why not share the context and tell us what you think it means, and let the discussion progress without the guessing game?
      I'm not really trying to play a guessing game. As I said, it's not that I think my interpretation is right and others are wrong. I think they're all right if they're useful.

      The whole point of what I was saying is that the quote is so widely stated and interpreted and acted upon WITHOUT the proper context. And since most people forget it was written prior to 1937, all kinds of stuff gets cobbled onto it, or read into it, that wasn't meant by the author.

      I really don't get the pie analogy - it's more like I'm saying, this is what this guy says his pie tastes like, so what do you think he made the pie out of? Because I've found that the ingredients available now are different than what were available then. I've made my own fix, and others have too, but we're all in effect eating a different (though still tasty) pie. And we all think it's the same pie, but it's really not. But since we all ended up with tasty pies, why not share recipes? Make sense?
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      • Profile picture of the author Kevin_Hutto
        Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

        I don't think this is true, because if I'm not aware of these personality distinctions you've made, I'm not really going to try to create a product that's geared for one of them, nor would I be able to guess which that is. I do very strongly agree that the internal dialogue going on from person to person is not uniform and can't be universally addressed. However, the contexts in which we OPEN our minds to allow new information into those conversations is roughly the same.
        My point was that many times your product is geared towards one of the types because of the product itself... For instance if your product is some script or something geared towards people who are writing their own code, then it is usually pretty safe to assume some bias towards an analytical style as many coders naturally fall into that type.
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
    Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

    Kevin_Hutto described a broader approach
    Yeah, hence a different one.

    I concede you sort of went with similar interpretations, but they are different. While your interpretation can kind of fit inside of his, his can't fit inside of yours, so they're not identical, and have some useful distinctions.

    Particularly, you underline the problem inherent in your own interpretation of Collier in that there are as many different conversations going on as there are people.

    Kevin's post introduced one way to deal with that, by having 4 general classifications that break down a problem of millions to a problem of 4. That's one way of dealing with the problem you identified.

    Now of course, that problem only exists in your particular interpretation - that Collier meant that the writer should somehow be psychic and "read" the contents of the prospect's mind at the point they are reading the actual letter in question and deciding to buy.

    Now since I want to talk more about some of the interpretations posted here, I guess it's only fair to post mine first.

    To figure out what Collier really meant, I think you have to look not only at the work in question, but the historical context in which it was written.

    What Collier was really doing with his statement was simply justifying the idea of writing salesletters to mail out in the first place. When he often discusses the "conversation" he means in his book, he's talking about the larger one which guides a person through their lives towards their overall goals.

    What we means by entering that conversation is figuring out a way to get within proximity of that person so you can have an influence, a "say" in how he achieves those goals. Collier was one of the pioneers in using the mail to do this.

    That's all he really meant, I think.

    It helps also to think of the context in which he worked. This is a time where people largely kept in touch with friends and family via regular writing and sending of letters. Inserting a sales letter into the context of the person's typical mail at this time could very effectively insert you into their "conversation" in a way that other advertising can't.

    Another quote that I think says something most similar in meaning to Collier is "If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend." - Abraham Lincoln

    And I find Kevin's post very interesting too because while Lincoln is someone who certainly COULD have influenced Collier, the info Kevin sites couldn't have.

    Because those 4 personality types he's talking about were actually developed by Dr. Merrill and Dr. Reid beginning in 1964. Collier himself died in 1950, and the first edition of the letter book came in 1937. Even if Collier *was* inclined to be interested in Psychology (which is not very prevalent in his book) he couldn't have encountered those ideas at all.

    And in fact, those labels aren't actually developed to be used for marketing at all. They're meant as a psychometric tool to help people learn to work better together in group environments. Do you recall where you first saw that applied to copy writing Kevin? I'm curious.

    But again, this only proves my point that the ambiguity of the quote, and its removal from context actually make it MORE helpful than it's initial interpretation.

    However, personally I think interpretations that lead to a need for the copywriter to become psychic and rad the mind of the prospect are actually harmful in a way, because as we know, that's not actually possible. Sure you can do market research, but unless you're in any kind of position to enter the conversation in the first place, that's going to be 3rd person at best. Bring into consideration also, that 9 times out of 10 people don't have a clear idea of their "internal conversation" in the first place.

    Now, getting into such psychological minutia can certainly be helpful to a copywriter and marketer, but I don't think Collier ever conceived of his quip that way. Had he lived today, he'd be telling people to use the internet rather than writing letters. The important part is "Enter" not "conversation in their mind" - it's about positioning yourself in a place and context to be effectively HEARD, not about being psychic.

    At least, that's how Collier meant it, according to my own interpretation.

    I have a couple of other responses I want to make, but I'll quote those out separately. Thanks so much for the great discussion! This is exactly what I was hoping for!
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
    I've been re-reading Collier again and thought this seemed cool in light of Kevin Hutto mentioning motivators earlier.

    "There are six prime motives of human action: love, gain, duty, pride, self-indulgence, and self-preservation. And frequently they are so mixed together that it is hard to tell which to work on more strongly." - Robert Collier Letter Book, Chapter V. Motives That Make People Buy

    and also from a little further down the same page:

    "The more motives you can appeal to, of course, the more successful you will be, but it is important that you differentiate between the motive that makes him desire a thing and the one that impels him to take the action you desire, for the whole purpose of your letter is to make your reader act as you wish him to."

    This is kind what I meant when I was saying that the decision to want to buy is a separate one from the decision to go ahead and buy. But often, marketing educational materials sort of lump those two together.

    Certainly the modern web-based salesletter CAN tie the decision to an instant, easy to execute action. In Collier's day, he had to get them to fill in a form, write a check, address an envelope, etc.

    Even so, just because the tools we as marketers have are different doesn't mean people make decisions any differently. I've found my writing to be more effective when I still treat those two decisions separately, with a separate set of motivators. Even if you're trying to make the reader make both decisions in rapid succession.

    And in studying good copy that I respond to personally, I almost always see this same separation as well. I think this ties into the Collier quote in the OP, because to even be in a position to supply those motivators, you have to enter onto the stage of the prospect's mind, since you can't physically be there to persuade him in person.

    Anyways, I hope that Sunday reading discovery was helpful to someone.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ram
      Here's a very simplified example of what I think the quote means ...

      A man is thinking, "Is my wife cheating?"

      Your headline reads: "How to know instantly if your wife is cheating on you"

      In other words, what are their worries, dreams, desires? What are they thinking about? What is troubling them? What keeps them awake at night? Most importantly, what is the conversation going on in their head related to those fears, dreams, desires, worries?

      Address that internal dialogue.
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      • Profile picture of the author getsmartt
        Interesting....But what if I am thinking
        "My Spouse would never cheat on me",
        then your headline does nothing to enter my internal conversation.

        Now if your headline read something like...

        "Only 10% of Spouses think their Partner is Cheating, Here is how to know instantly if your Partner is one of the 60% who really cheat!"

        I think I would be much better situated to enter a wider varity of internal conversations and perhaps direct that conversation in a way to sell my product.

        JMHO

        Originally Posted by Ram View Post

        Here's a very simplified example of what I think the quote means ...

        A man is thinking, "Is my wife cheating?"

        Your headline reads: "How to know instantly if your wife is cheating on you"

        In other words, what are their worries, dreams, desires? What are they thinking about? What is troubling them? What keeps them awake at night? Most importantly, what is the conversation going on in their head related to those fears, dreams, desires, worries?

        Address that internal dialogue.
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        • Profile picture of the author Ram
          Originally Posted by getsmartt View Post

          Interesting....But what if I am thinking
          "My Spouse would never cheat on me",
          then your headline does nothing to enter my internal conversation.

          Now if your headline read something like...

          "Only 10% of Spouses think their Partner is Cheating, Here is how to know instantly if your Partner is one of the 60% who really cheat!"

          I think I would be much better situated to enter a wider varity of internal conversations and perhaps direct that conversation in a way to sell my product.

          JMHO

          But would someone thinking their spouse would never cheat be looking for a product about how to catch a cheating spouse?

          You can never design a product for everybody. In my experience it's better to pick an already worried, fearful. pained target audience and address the "internal nagging" that is already going on in their mind. Pour more and more salt on the wound and then promise to ease the pain, fear, etc.
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          • Profile picture of the author getsmartt
            True enough, atleast for today when we can target our market better, but in Collier's day you didn't have that option. Mass mailings, Magazine and Classified ads were the marketing methods of choice. Better to try and grab as many minds and eyes as possible.

            again JMHO

            Originally Posted by Ram View Post

            But would someone thinking their spouse would never cheat be looking for a product about how to catch a cheating spouse?

            You can never design a product for everybody. In my experience it's better to pick an already worried, fearful. pained target audience and address the "internal nagging" that is already going on in their mind. Pour more and more salt on the wound and then promise to ease the pain, fear, etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin_Hutto
      Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

      And like I said earlier, I'd love to hear if you recall where you saw the Merrill-Reid Social Styles applied to copy.
      Actually, I used to use the MR stuff for sales training for salesmen that worked for me. I had a mentor who actually knew Dr James Taylor (who did most of the original research) and we used the method quite successfully in our sales presentations. It helped to understand what type you were talking to -- as it allowed the salesman to give the prospect what they wanted quickly without making the mistake of giving them what they didnt want... A driver didnt want to see all the pretty pictures or spend a bunch of time talking about family and friends... They just want to get to the point... etc...

      So, to answer your question. I havent seen anyone using this effectively. I have tested it and it seems to work - although my personal tests have been a bit clunky.

      But I have often thought that some sort of product along these lines would be revolutionary for marketers as in most cases (with a product for the masses) you are only doing a great job of communicating to about 25% of your audience...
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  • Profile picture of the author lisag
    Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

    I'm sure that almost everyone here has heard this famous Robert Collier quote from somewhere or other, as it's one of the most famous ideas in marketing:

    "Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind."

    So please share, what do YOU think Collier meant? Thanks in advance!
    I'm at the marina standing there gazing at a boat.

    The salesman walks up and says "she's a beauty, isn't she?" I look up and say "Yes, she is." He responds: "$39,995. 0 down 0% financing for 48 months. You can take her out for a spin with me if you want. Or we can do the paperwork and in about 45 minutes you'll be the captain."

    He entered the conversation with the at exactly the point I was at: Beautiful, I wonder how much.
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by Ram View Post

      In other words, what are their worries, dreams, desires? What are they thinking about? What is troubling them? What keeps them awake at night? Most importantly, what is the conversation going on in their head related to those fears, dreams, desires, worries?

      Address that internal dialogue.
      I think it's useful to brainstorm these activities when making the product, namely identifying problems that need solutions, and whether the desire/need for a solution is great enough to create a product. However, I don't actually think that you can answer this question effectively enough in copy to apply to enough people to be useful. Not without being psychic or guessing.

      Originally Posted by getsmartt View Post

      Interesting....But what if I am thinking
      "My Spouse would never cheat on me",
      then your headline does nothing to enter my internal conversation.

      Now if your headline read something like...

      "Only 10% of Spouses think their Partner is Cheating, Here is how to know instantly if your Partner is one of the 60% who really cheat!"

      I think I would be much better situated to enter a wider varity of internal conversations and perhaps direct that conversation in a way to sell my product.

      JMHO
      Nice - implanting doubt in the person who never before suspected. Very devious. I think what you're describing here is exactly what Collier was trying to say - you don't KNOW what that conversation is, but you need to enter it, and one way is by arousing curiosity. One way to do that it to present evidence that reality does not conform to what the prospect was thinking. That way you don't have to know what they're thinking at all.

      Originally Posted by Ram View Post

      But would someone thinking their spouse would never cheat be looking for a product about how to catch a cheating spouse?

      You can never design a product for everybody. In my experience it's better to pick an already worried, fearful. pained target audience and address the "internal nagging" that is already going on in their mind. Pour more and more salt on the wound and then promise to ease the pain, fear, etc.
      Man, this is a pretty hardcore way to attack the problem of copywriting. Not every problem worth solving has to have pain or fear associated with it. They may be "easier" if you're okay with pressing the fear and pain buzzer with every sale, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily "better".

      At the very least, I'd hope that whatever your copy is selling will deliver more than just a promise of easing the pain and fear, right?

      Originally Posted by Kevin_Hutto View Post

      Actually, I used to use the MR stuff for sales training for salesmen that worked for me. I had a mentor who actually knew Dr James Taylor (who did most of the original research) and we used the method quite successfully in our sales presentations. It helped to understand what type you were talking to -- as it allowed the salesman to give the prospect what they wanted quickly without making the mistake of giving them what they didnt want... A driver didnt want to see all the pretty pictures or spend a bunch of time talking about family and friends... They just want to get to the point... etc...
      Yes, that certainly makes sense in a direct sales environment where you can tailor the salesman's response to the customer's social style. I can see a challenge when trying to apply it through copy or media of any kind in that you generally don't know what type of person your audience is, and if you try to address them all simultaneously, your message is 75% geared towards someone else, no matter who is reading.

      Originally Posted by Kevin_Hutto View Post

      So, to answer your question. I havent seen anyone using this effectively. I have tested it and it seems to work - although my personal tests have been a bit clunky.

      But I have often thought that some sort of product along these lines would be revolutionary for marketers as in most cases (with a product for the masses) you are only doing a great job of communicating to about 25% of your audience...
      That's an interesting take, for sure. As far as being a product, I think what would be most useful is incorporating the social styles into the product at the point of creation and using the style itself as a sub-niche. As it is, I can't think of a way of overcoming the problem you point out - you MAY only be addressing 25% of your audience before, but if you try to hit all 4 styles equally, you're adding 75% cruft.

      Any insights? How do you work around that?

      Originally Posted by Kevin_Hutto View Post

      My point was that many times your product is geared towards one of the types because of the product itself... For instance if your product is some script or something geared towards people who are writing their own code, then it is usually pretty safe to assume some bias towards an analytical style as many coders naturally fall into that type.
      Ah, I see. So in this hypothetical case, would you bother writing marketing that came at it from the other angles at all, or would you only market it to Analytical types (or at least people who are predominantly so)?

      Originally Posted by getsmartt View Post

      True enough, atleast for today when we can target our market better, but in Collier's day you didn't have that option. Mass mailings, Magazine and Classified ads were the marketing methods of choice. Better to try and grab as many minds and eyes as possible.

      again JMHO
      Yes, I agree. While we can target are market better these days, I still think a lot of marketers focus the concept of a market on "who" these people are whereas in Collier's time, he was more concerned about "where" they were when they came across his message.

      There's a great bit about how he explain that the prospect is always going to have things he wants to do, and you have the thing you want him to do, so you must find him where he is and tie up what you want him to do with what he wants to do so tightly, that the only way forward is to do what you ask.

      To my thinking, that's got very little to do with the actual contents of his internal dialogue and much more to do with the fact that he has one, and will let you influence it if you put the lure in the right place.

      Originally Posted by lisag View Post

      I'm at the marina standing there gazing at a boat.

      The salesman walks up and says "she's a beauty, isn't she?" I look up and say "Yes, she is." He responds: "$39,995. 0 down 0% financing for 48 months. You can take her out for a spin with me if you want. Or we can do the paperwork and in about 45 minutes you'll be the captain."

      He entered the conversation with the at exactly the point I was at: Beautiful, I wonder how much.
      So how would you go about applying this interpretation to a written format as Collier was speaking of? In this example, the salesman can leverage experience and intuition through observing and interacting with the prospect. But you can do no such thing in writing.

      Would it be a matter of putting the copy on the boat itself to answer that question at the physical location that she is having it? Because I don't see how you could predict it if you were mailing a salesletter to her house.

      Or I guess you could say it's the copywriter's job to recreate the marina and the boat and even the salesman, so as to even simulate the buildup towards even asking that question in the first place, right?

      But then I say, THAT'S what Collier was saying is that to do that at all, you need to be allowed to enter the conversation. And that's all about context of messaging rather than content.

      Thanks so much for all the awesome discussion so far! I do hope there's more to come.
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  • Profile picture of the author Victor Edson
    Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

    "The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished." - George Bernard Shaw (by way of Andy Jenkins)
    This is a powerful statement. How I'd implement it? Always leave your customer starving for more. Once they feel like it's over, why would they come back for more?
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    • Profile picture of the author lisag
      Originally Posted by Victor Edson View Post

      This is a powerful statement. How I'd implement it? Always leave your customer starving for more. Once they feel like it's over, why would they come back for more?
      Not trying to be crude here (but it may be interpreted that way). I had a copywriting coach when my husband and I owned our catalog business. This was how he explained his philosophy on writing enticing copy that left the reader wanting more:

      "Flash them your panties but never let them see you naked. Because once they do, there's nothing left for them to want to see."
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  • Profile picture of the author rockstar99
    "Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind."

    It means exactly what it says. IMO you can either create a great marketing campaign by giving people what they want OR showing people what they need, hence breaking into that conversation.

    Really, they might not even know the conversation exists. How many times have you left the store with something you didn't really HAVE to buy? We've all done that at least once. The reason is normally unconscious or that we make up more reasons why need something than why we could do without it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Chance Russell
      Here's something Dan Kennedy wrote about it ...



      In 1841, a Philadelphia store owner named J.W. Parkinson reportedly attracted thousands of people to his store by having some sort of mechanical Santa Claus going up and down the chimney on the store's roof. When I was a kid, on the Friday after thanksgiving, Santa Claus arrived at the big department store in downtown Cleveland - and it seemed the entire city went. To compete, the department store across Public Square had its own holiday character from local TV, Mr. Jing-ALing. For retailers, restauranteurs and all manner of other astute merchants, marketers and entrepreneurs, Santa has been the gift that keeps on giving - at least since 1841.
      Yet, surprisingly, I see lots and lots of businesses that either ignore this opportunity altogether or take merely a half-hearted swipe at it. And I always wonder why.
      In direct marketing, there's The Robert Collier Principle - based on a quote attributed to a copywriter of old, Robert Collier: "Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind." Santa and the holiday season occupy that conversational space for at least 8 weeks. If you want to hook your wagon to a star, he's THE star of that season.
      The calendar is every businessperson's friend. It offers one opportunity after another to utilize the Collier Principle in advertising, marketing, promotion, even employee training and motivation. As you face the onrushing new year, consider all the holidays and other events the calendar provides as opportunities.
      - Dan Kennedy
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