Have you ever heard the story about that lonely businessman who accepted a drink at the bar from a pretty woman and then woke up in a bathtub full of ice and his kidney missing? Or what about the kids who found razor blades in their Halloween candy?

We’ve all been exposed to these stories in some form or another. They’re also entirely made up! There is no truth behind these urban myths, they’re 100% fictional, and yet they are seared into our minds and are utterly unforgettable. That’s how your marketing should be: impossible to forget.

Today we’re taking some tips from a few of the masters, Chip and Dan Heath. These brothers wrote a book called Made to Stick in which they deconstruct the most viral stories of our age to come up with a simple formula that you can use to write offers that are dangerously compelling.

Here’s the acronym that they share to help us remember their advice: SUCCES (pretty much success), short for Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credentialed, Stories.

Here are the elements of a dangerously compelling marketing offer:

  1. Simple: Why are simple stories more memorable? Because our brains are lazy and they take less work! Try to make your headlines no more than 7 words long, and make your sales pitches fit within 140 characters (the length of a Twitter post).
  1. Unexpected: Why is this one important? Because our brains are wired to remember things that surprise us. We develop habits and routines and pretty much run on autopilot for most of our day but when something unexpected jolts us out of our trance, it sticks with us. Our brain wants to be able to see it coming the next time. You can use this to your advantage by saying unexpected or controversial things in your marketing that force people to double-take and become intrigued. Using superlatives like “always, never, worst, best” helps, as do emotional words like “ruinous, explosive, and shocking.” One of the most successful email subject lines of all time was “*Don’t open this email!*” by a company called Manicube which is about the last thing you’d expect to get in your inbox, and it compelled a lot of people to open it.
  1. Concrete: A key to any good writing is to write in concrete terms that allow your readers to visualize things. Instead of passive voice that talks in the third-person and uses wishy-washy phrases like “perhaps, would, could, maybe” use concrete terminology like “solid, definitely, guaranteed, fixed.” This is especially helpful when describing your product’s impact, and instead of being vague and saying, “we provide solutions,” be concrete and say “we’ll scour your storm drains.”
  1. Credentialed: This is the principle of social proof that we talk about so much. Your readers are wondering why they should trust you, and you should give them real reasons: do you have expert credentials? Certifications? Been in the business for 20 years? Rated by BBB? Listed on TripAdvisor? Make it known who you are and why you should be trusted!
  1. Stories: We saved the best for last. People remember stories, which are fundamental to how we communicate. I’ll give you a brief example. Try to remember both of these:
  • (7 + 4 + 3) > 12
  • Numbers seven, four, and three ganged up and together, they were bigger than twelve.

Look away from the screen for a few seconds. Which sticks more clearly in your mind? The second one of course! By imbuing even just a little bit of personification (numbers ganging up on each other) that story was far more memorable. The lesson? Turn everything into stories about how you helped customers and how it made them feel!

Put all of these things together and what does it make our marketing? Dangerously memorable and compelling!

For fun, here’s what we came up with going through this ourselves: 

Jane’s desk phone exploded and was ringing off the hook. Why? She ran her first postcard campaign and it worked well – too well, in fact, and her landscaping business was swamped with new customers. Not a bad problem to have, huh? ProspectsPLUS knows better than anybody about bringing in new business, and we should after 20 years of being market leader. Call us at 1 (877) 222-6010 if you’d like to share Jane’s exploding phone problem!

Here’s the breakdown: 

Simple: Jane got new customers

Unexpected: Exploding phones

Concrete: New clients will call you

Credentialed: 20 years in the business

Stories: Jane sent some postcards and got incredible results

Ready to run your own dangerously compelling offer? Get a postcard campaign out in 15 minutes!

Want to make your marketing even more compelling? 

Opportunity Knocks does more than send postcards – they plan entire campaigns including the graphics, stages, and strategy you need to bring in new business! Give them a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and ask for some advice!