NLP, Anchoring and Hypnotic Language: The Relation to Copywriting
That’s fun stuff to research, really, because as a sales writer, we do have in-depth knowledge of rhetoric, persuasion and how words can influence someone. Not necessarily from a psychological standpoint, though, or a therapeutic one. There are numerous similarities, though.
An Overview of NLP
As a professional copywriter, the idea of NLP (Natural Language Processing) is one where you strategically form and place words, sentences and even paragraphs in such a way that it enhances the ability to reach deep into a reader’s emotional and irrational triggers. That’s actually copywriting 101. It’s not about being ‘logical.’ If I’m trying to sell something to somebody through writing, I want to appeal to just about anything and everything that’s illogical about the idea of buying something that someone doesn’t necessarily need. And the way to do that is to tap into why a person might need or want a product without even knowing it. Rather than trying to sell the ‘features’ of a product, I sell the benefits of the product, and those benefits transcend the typical, malleable and tangible ‘pluses’ of any product.
For instance: oregano oil may be featured as an antiviral against Herpes – but the long-term benefit is that you’ll be able to foster nourishing sexual relationships without fear of infection or embarrassment. That would be an example of how “features” can be compared to “benefits.”
What Is Anchoring?
I did a little bit of research on this as well and found that anchoring (and it sounded familiar to me) is somewhat associated with the idea of Pavlov and conditioning. Ring a bell and give food to a dog enough times – repetition – and pretty soon you can ring that bell, and the dog will salivate, expecting food.
Anchoring is similar. It’s the strategic placement of key words in repetition to essentially suggest to the reader to follow the supposed command. In psychology, this is typical – especially when dealing with phobias. But in sales, it’s nothing more than simply repeating the key words for concepts like search engine optimization and basically ‘ringing that bell’ for the dog to salivate.
The way ‘anchoring’ would work from a sales copywriting standpoint, though, is to recognize just how readers basically, well, read when it comes to brochures and web pages and the like.
They don’t read like they read novels. They skim. And if they’re interested after skimming, they go over again with a ‘fine-tooth comb’ to get some of the details. It’s very methodical and oftentimes not linear. But that’s okay. That’s how our brains operate.
So we strategically place a lot of keywords and phrases (such as your link to the sales page) in segments typically where a person reading might actually skim toward. The bombardment of those keywords and phrases will get so ingrained in the brain, that oftentimes after zoning in on their emotional responses of why they should buy, they almost always end up buying!
The trick, though, is to not overdo it. Over-repitition of keywords and phrases can turn off a reader, annoy a reader and even patronize a reader into thinking that you’re actually trying to ‘sell’ something. People don’t want to be ‘sold.’ They want to buy.
It’s a balancing act. Push too hard, and they won’t buy. Push too little, and they won’t know enough about how cool the product is to even think about buying.
What About Hypnotic Language?
I can say that this is sort of automatically implemented into effective sales writing right off the bat, but the difference here is crucial. Eloquence has been around for centuries – the ability to persuade someone through ‘eloquent language.’ And oftentimes such language does have a ‘hypnotic’ quality to it.
Copywriting, though, is slightly different. You persuade a reader, not by eloquence, but by simplicity. In a way, that can, for lack of a better term, ‘hypnotize’ a reader into basically saying “I GET IT! YOU ARE SO RIGHT!”
Essentially, if you can relate to someone as a person – not as a writer or expert of anything – through words, you’ve got them buying out of your hand. Plain and simple. The key to good copywriting is storytelling. You’re just a person at a bar, basically, telling a story to someone else about this awesome product, for instance, and because they’re so zoned in on your story and how awesome it is, you’re already convinced that they want what you’re telling them.
It takes, basically, a conversational tone. Nothing over-hyped, or overly ‘salesy.’ Just basically someone who’s genuinely excited about a product! If you can write conversationally – naturally – with words, with the ability to communicate with all the syntax, sentence structure and diction of a normal human being (which is completely different from, say, writing a thesis paper or novel), it would be as if you’re reading the words of a human being speaking to you right now, communicated on paper – instead of just you reading words printed out by a printer. Like how stereo instructions are often printed out.
I’d say that’s what ‘hypnotic language’ is to a copywriter.
Simplicity. Linear. Non-complex. Straightforward. Strategic.
It’s not a skill that can be necessarily learned. But realized. You don’t even need to be a skilled writer with a PhD. You could just be an everyday guy or girl, who knows how to write words on paper, with the ability to write down your own words as you converse in such a way that it makes sense to a reader.
It’s an art form as much as it is a craft that you develop for years.