Archive for the ‘The Robert Collier Reminders’ Category

The Robert Collier Reminders

September 8, 2008

The Robert Collier Reminders

…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. He may not want to pay a bill, for instance. He may need the money badly for himself, and all his inclinations may be toward keeping it in his pocket. But if you can “sell” him the idea that his credit means more to him than the possession of the money or anything it can buy him, you have touched the right motive. What has he to gain by doing as you wish? What to lose by refusing?

How is it that a letter which sells histories and O. Henry stories in unusual volume is just as successful in selling bed blankets and travelling bags?
Because the one constant factor in selling is human reactions. We seldom try to sell merchandise. We sell ideas. And my experience has been that a fundamentally sound idea that will sell books in great volume will be just as successful in moving travelling bags or bed blankets or any other merchandise, if properly adapted to them.
The adapting is the job. Many writers make the mistake of thinking that if they copy the WORDING of a successful letter, their letter is bound to pull too. There is no bigger mistake. The wording counts for little. It is the way you adapt the idea back of the successful letter that counts.

We did not need to know anything about coat manufacture to convince you of that. All we needed to understand was human reactions to certain ideas, and these are what we studied.

The one thing that should always be borne in mind is that it is not merchandise you are selling, but human nature, human reactions.

A knowledge of your product is essential, of course. But familiarity with human reactions, human response to familiar stimuli, is even more important.
Oftentimes when we have been asked to write a letter about some new product, we have sketched the first rough draft of it without seeing the product at all, or knowing any more about it than our average reader. We put into that first draft everything that we should want in the product if we were buying it. Then – after we had our mental picture of the ideal product from our point of view as a user – we took the product itself, studied it, and determined how it compared with our ideal

As to the motives to appeal to when you have won the reader’s attention, by far the strongest, in our experience, is vanity. Not the vanity that buys a cosmetic or what-not to look a little better, but the unconscious vanity which makes a man want to feel important in his own eyes and makes him strut mentally. This appeal needs to be subtly used, but when properly used, it is the strongest we know.
Next to it, perhaps, is the premium of “Gift” idea – starting your letter with a gift of some unimportant article, to lead your reader on to the buying of your real product.
Selling, you know, is just a matter of making people WANT some one thing you have, more than they want the money it costs them. And the easiest way to make them want it is by sugar-coating your offer as a doctor sugar-coats a bitter pill – for oftentimes it is bitter to dig up money for something you do not really need. This sugar-coating takes many different forms, of which the gift or premium is the most common.

How much better then to use the sort of persuasion that leaves a smile in its wake, that extracts the money, but instead of an aching void, leaves in its place the pleasant glow of a favor done for a friend.