It’s not often that a copywriter gets to tell an amusing anecdote involving HRH the Queen and provide a good copy tip at the same time.
Okay, so I’ve never actually met her in person (although I did once have an amusing ‘run in’ with Margaret Thatcher in a bookshop).
No – this royal account is a story from the book Pre-suasion by Dr Robert Cialdini.
In the follow up to his first book Persuasion, Cialdini recounts the story of being in London for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Apparently, during one of the events where it was possible to meet the Queen, while in a reception line, a young woman’s phone started ringing in her handbag just before she was about to meet Her Majesty.
The woman was understandably embarrassed and did not know what to do, to which the Queen responded:
“You should answer that dear, it might be someone important.”
As amusing as this is, the underlying message here is that what we give attention to at any point in time is what we deem important (even if it isn’t).
In his book, Cialdini goes on to further suggest that ‘what’s focal is presumed causal, and what is salient is deemed important’.
Now, I won’t go into all the implications of his findings here, but needless to say, the case studies he reveals have some scary applications relating to false confessions, directed attention and manipulation techniques in general.
He also goes on to explain how to move people to be receptive to a message before they experience it.
Hence the name of the book ‘Pre-suasion’.
But back to copy and the implications for your marketing messages; channelling someone’s attention to something before ‘motivating’ them to buy it is powerful.
We already know this.
So how can you apply this knowledge to your copy in a positive way?
The first step might be to consider what favourable aspect of your message you want to highlight. It could be a specific feature of the product you provide (which you will, of course, explain as a benefit – remember; feature’s tell, benefit’s sell).
You then determine the focus at each stage of the journey – right through to the sale.
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
It can be as simple as directing the reader’s attention to what matters most once they land on your website, and then following this aspect up with a compelling call to action.
It’s worth thinking about.