Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was developed in the 1970’s as a way to trigger actions and sales by using the power of manipulation and persuasion. At its core, it uses language techniques and verbal patterns to make your objectives come true.
Of course, this may seem far-fetched, and to many it is. In fact, saying NLP and copywriting in the same sentence is bound to raise some eyebrows, even to this day.
But the truth of the matter is that words are powerful. There’s a reason we cling onto stories, even those from centuries ago. Words influence our every show, movie, game, trend, and then some. Without words, we’d never become close to other human beings, nor would we know how to fully express ourselves.
And when employed by persuasive writers, or compelling speakers, they become that much more effective. Suddenly, these meaningful words become tools of the trade, capable of increasing sales, or any other conversion you’re tracking.
So, let’s get to it, shall we? Let’s explore the world of advanced NLP copywriting, and what it truly means for your business.
What A Story We Weave
Think about what the end of a long week at work looks like. Maybe it’s Friday night, and you’ve got your feet up by a cozy fire. You’re lounging on the couch, with your favorite blanket. Maybe a nice cup of coffee or tea right beside you. It’s nice here, and it’s totally relaxing knowing that you don’t have anything pressing to do tomorrow. You can do what you want.
Well, as nice as it all sounds, and it certainly is, this is the time where you let your guard down. This is the time when you don’t have anything major going on, no distractions, so you’re able to simply… ponder how nice it would be to have a blender thing to… blend things in the kitchen. You have a blender, but it would be nice if you has an immersion one to—
Wait a minute, why are you even considering buying something you don’t need right now? Because it’s on sale and there’s a commercial?
Yes, and you’re also at your most vulnerable, essentially hypnotized by relaxation. Why do you think ads are run in between shows and even some movies on cable?
You see, words are everywhere, and many of them are convincing. All it takes is the right language usage, and the right timing. Play the same commercial during work hours, and you may not even bat an eyelash. But after hours, when you’re home and unwinding for the evening? Surely, you’ll pay closer attention.
But it’s not just in a sales pitch that words are so compelling. Think about stories, which have been around since the human species began. Myths, legends, everything has been created with words, and all of it influences us in some way.
Hero stories teach us that anything is possible, and that if you work hard with a trusted group, you can always overcome the worst of odds. Romance stories show us what a mess love can be, but also how beautiful it is when you’ve found the right fit.
Every story, every genre, revolves around nine archetypes, which are used over and over again. Reskinned, retold, remolded by every author, we’ve seen versions of our most beloved, popular characters time and time again―even if we don’t always realize it.
Here are the nine archetypes:
Comedy - Parks and Recreation ended in 2015, but it’s still regarded as one of the funniest shows around. And all it was based on was a group of hilarious, slightly clueless friends all working together, and making the most out of every situation, positive or negative.
Tragedy - Think about the long-running TV show Supernatural, which although sprinkled with comedic relief, and plenty of quests and monsters, is at its core, a true tragedy. All throughout, they’ve alluded to the fact that it can only end one way, and they’ve already lost many important characters along the way.
Rebirth - The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the 2018 spinoff of the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch, from the Archie Comics, is a total rebirth. Sabrina finds herself having to choose between two paths, and then finding a way to carve a third.
Mystery - Think about Sherlock Holmes, or anything written by Agatha Christie, including Hercule Poirot.
From Poor to Rich - Cinderella was treated as a maid by her evil stepmother and sisters, until she married the prince, of course.
Slaying the Monster/Overcoming the Big Obstacle - Think of Bates Motel, where the big monster, the big obstacle, is really Norman’s unhealthy mind. Although the story is told in a way that makes Norman the main character, everyone is really rooting for his takedown.
Questing - Stranger Things, the Netflix TV show in which the group of kids all fighting the strange creatures from the alternate universe known as the Upside Down, specifically keep referring to their mission as a quest, after having played Dungeons & Dragons.
Voyage and Return (also known as Hero’s Journey) - Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey cover how Odysseus left Ithaca, and then struggled to get back.
All Against The One Really, Really Bad Guy - Avengers: Infinity War, the team all came together to defeat Thanos.
Notice, some of our most beloved, popular stories really fit the bill here. That’s because these archetypes play on our psyche really well. The metaphors, the relatability, it all slips into our subconscious mind. Soon, we find ourselves being inspired, being influenced, thinking “Why can’t I carve my own path through life like Sabrina? I don’t want to follow what society says I need to do.”
But see, there’s a massive difference there: if someone, anyone, were to sit you down and tell you that you can carve a third path, and that you shouldn’t settle for what’s being presented to you, your natural instinct would kick in and you’d probably blow them off. Why? Because you’re being told what to do. And because when we hear something far-fetched, we don’t believe it.
But seeing is believing. And these stories, they show us the outcome of such bold choices all the time. Although they’re fiction, they keep instilling in us the possibility of hope, of belief, and of changing our fortunes.
Knowing this, you can now prevent yourself from being manipulated into doing things you really don’t want to do, nor should. And now you can set the stage to do some manipulating yourself…
Because manipulation gets a bad rep, but it’s not as evil as we think it to be. More on that later.
Say What You Mean
Heal and heel, hour and our, knot and not. Homophones are words that sound the same, but have wildly different meanings. It’s like those sentences where the words are misplaced, or outright spelled in a different way, to form a different word.
“It deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.”
You could read that just now, because our mind can read jumbled words. And it also does this:
“Will the teacher give me a special role now that I’m on the honor roll?”
Notice, you probably picked up that something was… off. And you found yourself reading “role” twice, but differently.
Well, the trick here is that because there’s so much data, so much information for our brains to process at any given time, our subconscious filters out 99% of it all. And that means when there’s a misspelled word, or a word is spelled “buy” rather than “by,” we often don’t pick up on it.
Maybe in the moment, when we’re told to pay attention, such as in this section, but on an average day? When the phone is ringing, you’re reading through a lengthy article, and you’re aware of the tea kettle in the kitchen which will begin whistling in 3, 2, 1?
The Company You Keep
Imagine a company owner who’s browsing their Instagram feed. They see profanity or other negative wording/messages in a meme, and they think it’s hilarious. So, they decide to comment, or like the image.
Well, that’s not a bright idea. It’s okay if you have your own social media account, under your own name, and it’s personal. But for a brand name to be closely associated with something potentially tarnishing, not so much. Public relations 101.
The same goes with language usage in promo copy. Avoiding offensive content is easy, but avoiding disturbing sensory experiences is also a thing. For instance, “Don’t settle for crusty bread, keep it fresh!” is not a good sentence. You imagine crusty, stale bread, and that’s just unpleasant, especially because you can hear the sound as you read it.
Remember, the point of promotional copy is to alleviate your pain points. Its purpose is to help you resolve an issue you’ve been having, not to inflict pain, or anguish, or feels of discomfort.
You shouldn’t be putting people off by any means. You should be making them feel better about their situation, understood, helped, and of course, comfortable.
Have you ever seen a magician perform? Often times they’ll set the stage, telling you what they’re going to do, so you know what to expect. They begin placing a handkerchief in their fist, pushing it until it isn’t visible anymore, and then they tell you to pay attention, because it’s going to get a little crazy. To bear with him, right?
Well, that’s an interruption. A strategic one, to be exact. Notice, your attention isn’t on the fist anymore, it’s on his face, because he’s talking. He’s animated, telling you to focus, but he’s moving around and talking, making eye contact, so naturally, your focus deviates.
By the time you turn your attention back, he’s already done something to make the “magic” in the magic trick happen.
These interruptions, whether they’re the snapping of fingers, looking up randomly, telling the audience to focus, etc. are all powerful techniques because the minute you break someone’s concentration on something, you have easy access to influence their thoughts for the better.
Clever public speakers use this technique as a way to get the audience to essentially wake up from their hypnosis, the trance-like state you often find yourself in after something is unchanging for a while. It’s why storytelling only works when there’s something interesting here and there to break that flow. Otherwise it’s rambling on and on and on. You need that spark of dynamic behavior to keep people invested, and influence them into thinking you’re more exciting, more informed, more entertaining, etc.
Embed Those Commands
If you learned anything from homophones, let it be this: in the middle of a sentence, people aren’t very alert. Their subconscious filters most of everything in life, because otherwise, we’d constantly have a data overload.
But homophones aren’t the only way to use this to your advantage. There’s also the tactic of embedding commands into sentences.
Now, you can do this subtly, if that’s your preference. It’s sneaky, unassuming, and most of all, safe. Because we’re all in agreement that most people don’t like being told what to do, right?
But if you’re ever feeling bold, and you have a cause that you think people want to sign up to learn more about, or a product that you know people will be clamoring over, feel free to highlight this command, or changing your voice during a speech to emphasize it.
We know them well. Visual, touch, auditory, smell and taste. We use them all the time in our daily life. We use them to type, to taste our food, to smell the flowers, to see the sky, etc. It’s our way of processing the world.
And suddenly, if we stop to think about that for a second… when I say you should embellish your writing to play to those senses, it makes… well, sense.
Instead of writing or saying “Visit our classic Italian kitchen to try the true taste of Italy,” you should write…
“Visit our classic Italian kitchen and savour the deliciously authentic taste of Italy.”
Notice, two strategic words suddenly make your mouth water, purely because they play to your senses. This is what you want. You want to make sure you get people’s attention, so they crave to taste, or touch, or wear whatever it is you’re selling.
Never No, Just Double Negatives
Ever heard of the claim that the subconscious doesn’t recognize negatives? Well, it’s not outright true or false. Turns out, it depends on the sentence structure. The statement, at its core needs to be true. Otherwise, if something renders it false, it gets processed by the subconscious, and therefore, recognized.
But why am I bringing this up?
Because what the subconscious always understands, regardless of any circumstance, is a double negative. If someone writes “Why would you not sign up for my course HERE right now?”
You pay attention. Likewise if you skip the negatives altogether and simply focus on the positive, like “Sign up for my marketing course HERE right now, and get all the knowledge you need to run your business as optimally as possible!”
Play to Their Emotions
There’s a reason why copywriters get paid pretty well. There’s several. Among them:
They cater to their client’s needs, and meet deadlines and complete projects that most business owners wouldn’t be able to on their own.
They extend their services far beyond blogging. Many create copy for courses, ebooks, newsletters, promotional material, advertisements, social media, and more.
Most tend to offer other services in conjunction to writing, usually of the photography or graphic design variety.
They are entirely devoted to your audience, because they know that’s what it takes to deliver quality content that will make your brand stand out, be genuine, and help others.
And finally, the most important reason of all… they dig into people’s emotions.
Let me explain. The last time I went into a store and bought something was… last night, at Target. There was a pretty big sale going on, where everything was 70% off. This played to my emotions, because I love a good deal. And as an entrepreneur, I know 70% off or more is basically the store’s way of saying “We will pay you to get this stuff off our shelves so we can replace it with new items.” You don’t even need good marketing to make that sale exciting!
But there’s more to it.
The items being sold at such a low price were high quality items that were not only extremely useful for the home, they were also my solution. You see, I am always looking for storage solutions, because I like keeping things as neat as possible. And lately, I hadn’t found any solutions for things that were suitable, so this was perfect.
Now, all of this summed up is that the Target sale played to my emotions. I love good deals on quality items that are useful and solve my problems. I get a rush from items that serve a purpose, but that I only pay a fraction of the price for.
Well, copywriters understand this. They know that everything you buy is based on emotions.
You don’t buy red peppers because you love their taste, although I’m sure that helps. You buy the pepper because you want to eat more vegetables and be healthier, so you can look good.
That’s why good copywriters will play to that fact. Charity ads play at heartstrings, fashion ads are all about unlocking the best version of yourself, and beauty ones are all about putting your best face forward.
Side note here, the only people who know this aside from copywriters are consultants, whom come in to assess what you have, how you’re running things, and your goals. From there, they draft a plan of action, of sorts, and leave once progress is made. If you’re reading through this post, wondering how on earth you’ll balance it all, consider hiring one.
Play Mind Games
NLP awareness patterns are words such as “notice” and “realise” and “see.” Basically, words that call your attention to something.
It’s innocent, you’re simply navigating their attention to something you really want to drive home, so they better understand, or get the help they need.
But on the other hand, you’re still navigating their attention. And that means that you can definitely steer them in a direction that advances your own sales agenda, which for the record, isn’t a bad thing. You’re an entrepreneur, you have to make sales to stay in business. Plus, if what you’re selling is something people really want, and benefit from, you’re not being evil by any means.
Think of questions and phrases like “Are you aware of how much you’re overpaying for groceries? See the difference in your spending with a membership to our grocery delivery service, which takes only the best priced ingredients to your door.”
Get Them to Say Yes
Think about the last time you went to… let’s say a concert. The music is playing, the band is onstage singing and playing, they’re dancing, and the audience is singing the lyrics they know so well. Everyone is in a good frame of mind, things are going really well.
It’s a positive state of being, right? Because the band is sounding really good, they’re playing all the right songs, and they really engage with the audience. Between songs, as the stage gets set with new props and the like, the band members are interacting with the audience, talking to them, getting them pumped for the next song.
Well, think of yourself in much the same way. It’s your duty to make people excited for what you’re putting out, whether it’s a course, an ebook, a new product line, or something else. You have to be excited about what you’re doing in order to get them excited.
Because if everyone is feeling good, they are much more likely to say yes to buying something from you.
Remember, buying is emotional. We buy things because of our feelings. We buy clothes to feel a certain way, because we want to look a certain way. We buy the food that we do because we want to look our best, or in the case of junk food, because it allows is to cut loose after a terrible day.
Use that knowledge to your advantage. If people are happy, they are in a good emotional state, and therefore, in the perfect frame of mind to purchase something. This is especially true if the item or service being purchased is…
Relevant to the setting/event taking place.
Relevant to them in daily life, perhaps as something that can make a task easier.
And of course, relevant to them, as people. Something they can connect with and feel reflected or understood by.
When we hear the words “peer pressure,” we think of bad habits and decisions. We think of smoking, drinking, maybe some gambling. We think of behavior that we don’t really want posted all over social media.
But peer pressure isn’t all bad.
Think of your positive friend. We all have one. You know, the one who used to have quite a crazy life, maybe with a crazy phase, or a string of bad relationships. But now, that friend has grown up, gotten their act together, taken up fitness and proper nutrition, and really found their own. That friend of yours is now the personification of sustainable self-improvement. They’re happy, healthy, and they somehow manage to do their best in everything they set out to do in life these days.
Well, maybe that friend keeps telling you how you should go on hikes more often. How you should join their kickboxing class, or how you should get together every Sunday morning to catch up and get some reps in.
That is positive peer pressure, because chances are high you’re really doing those things, or at least more positive things, because you’re friend talked you into it.
And soon, you’re running on your own, losing weight, and feeling a lot better about yourself. Your sense of self-confidence, and your happiness, are at an all-time high as a result.
Well, no business is good business unless you’re having the same effect. And it doesn’t have to be fitness related at all, it can be anything you want it to be, as long as people out there want it and feel elated by it.
If you want to excel in your business, you need to be that friend to your audience. You need to be the one that influences them to dress how they really want to dress, or eat how they really want to eat in that moment. Play to their needs, give them what they want when they want it.
And if you can help it, pick something sustainable, so you can continue to be of service for years to come. Some things are more sustainable than others, of course. Ice cream is delicious, but having a variety of options, for all diets, is even better. Selling beauty items will always generate sales, but remembering that ethical practices that create high quality results appeals to more people is better.
Stick to the Truth
Truism are statements that no one can dispute because they apply to everyone. And sure, those are hard to come by. The world is full of people, and everyone is unique, even twins. There’s no other person out there like you. We take pride in thinking that we are… original, and that we can’t be placed in a box.
But people like going on vacation. Everyone likes a vacation. It’s the variables that change. Some prefer tropical locations, while others prefer winter wonderlands.
And people like to eat, because it’s ingrained in the very nature of our survival to reach for food for sustenance and pleasure. All that changes are the types of food we eat, both for health goals and preferences based on taste.
In other words, we are all original, but we still share some very generic sentiments. What changes are the variables.
If you’re trying to increase your conversion rates, use truism to your advantage. This creates a sense of belonging, and helps you relate to your audience more effectively. Suddenly, it’s you and your audience against the world. It’s you as a group celebrating what you share in common that makes you unique. That makes people feel special, accepted, and understood. All very powerful emotions.
Just keep an eye on the variables that may change along the way, and you’re set on the right path. Don’t leave integral parts of your audience out if you can help it.
As far-fetched as it may have seemed in the beginning of this post, you may have come around by now―hopefully anyway. NLP Copywriting techniques are real ways to get people’s attention, play to people’s emotions, and even use positive peer pressure. These tactics are based around using our natural wants, needs, emotions, and even senses, to essentially generate attention and sales.
NLP can truly help you grow your business and use your valuable resources like consultants, freelancers, landing pages, copy, and social media, at full capacity. Knowing how to best direct and utilize these tools can help you get the best results, rather than just good or decent ones.
It’s essentially an act of optimization by better using the psychological knowledge you’ve known, or gained through this post.
It’s simple logic: to be a better seller, you have to understand who you’re selling to. If you know who they are, and what they want, then you can give them exactly that. And you can do so on a personal level, where you understand the reasoning behind their purchase.
Knowing full well why people want to buy x, y, and z may seem sneaky, or even invasive, but it’s just psychology. The more you understand what’s behind the scenes, the better your presentation. Otherwise, you run the risk of being the performer who loses their audience, fails to keep their attention, and helplessly watches as several of them fall asleep in their seats, or worse, walk out.
So, which of these tactics do you think you’ll start with, and why?
Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from you all!