What’s the Copywriter’s Most Powerful Psychological Tool

In my last blog post, Apples-to-Oranges, Using Contrast and Compare to Make More Cash, I continued talking about the C’s of copywriting by talking about the concepts of contrast and compare; we’ve also talked about commitment and consistency.

This time we’re going to talk about what Joe Vitale calls “the most powerful psychological tool any Hypnotic Writer can use.

Joe Sugarman says it is “the one major psychological reason that makes direct marketing so successful today” and he’s sold millions of BluBlocker sunglasses using this technique.

He’s also said that in 1973 he sold thousands upon thousands of (at the time revolutionary) pocket calculators using the technique.

What appeals to us in many deep, visceral levels so much that it’s been used in virtually all of the most successful direct response marketing campaigns online and off?

What has its roots in our primitive needs to find food and make better tools?

Well, that is what we’ll be looking at today.

Yes, I mean…


Yep, good old fashioned curiosity is the copywriter’s bosom buddy.

What is Curiosity?

I looked it up and found this definition for curiosity:

  1. A desire to know or learn.
  2. A desire to know about people or things that do not concern one; nosiness.
  3. An object that arouses interest, as by being novel or extraordinary: kept the carved bone and displayed it as a curiosity.
  4. A strange or odd aspect.

That really sums it up and, anyway, you know what curiosity is because you were curious enough to continue reading to find out what I was talking about 🙂

Anyway, as I’ve said before, great copywriting is like putting together a puzzle and curiosity is an important corner piece.

Why is Curiosity Important?

Basically it’s important because everyone wants to understand things they don’t know that they think will be valuable to them.

If someone knows something you don’t and you think it would be good for you to know it then you want to know it. The more valuable you think it will be the more you want to know it.

For example:

  • If I know how to write sales copy that converts at 10% and sales letters are important to you then you want to know too.
  • If I know how to drive a golf ball 400 yards and golf is important to you then you want to know too.
  • If I know how to make triple the average tips waiting tables and you wait tables to you want to know what I know.
  • If I know how to [fill in the blank] and it is important to you then you want to know too.

Curiosity is an extremely powerful force of motivation; this need to know gives us power and superiority over those who don’t know so the more you know the more power you potentially have.

It’s how we were built in order to survive and it is still one of the driving factors in the human experience (ever have a 2 year old!) and plays a huge factor in successful sales campaigns.

How to Use Curiosity?

P.T. Barnum was THE master at creating curiosity.

He was famous for his side shows acts which he developed (and marketed) so that they created more than curiosity, they create an urgent sense of curiosity.

There are many ways to use curiosity in your sales copy but one of the, if not the, best way to use curiosity is the “secret”.

Look at some of the most successful headlines in history:

  • How To Win Friends And Influence People
  • Do You Make These Mistakes In English?
  • Why Some People Almost Always Make Money In The Stock Market
  • How I Made A Fortune With A “Fool Idea”
  • Do You Do Any Of These Ten Embarrassing Things?
  • They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano — But When I Started To Play!
  • It’s A Shame For You Not To Make Good Money — When These Men Do It So Easily
  • What Everybody Ought To Know…About This Stock And Bond Business

Each at least hints at a secret, from the secret of how to influence people to the secret of succeeding in the stock market.

Bottom Line/Personal had a great headline that made lots of sales and it was based on a secret it was “What Never… Ever to Eat on an Airplane!

Makes you curious doesn’t it!

Here’s another examples of using curiosity in a headline; this is another of the most successful headlines of all time:

Amazing Secret Discovered By One-Legged Golfer
Adds 50 Yards To Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks And
Slices… And Can Slash Up to 10 Strokes From Your Game
Almost Overnight!

Can you see curiosity in it?

I’m sure you can, because a real prospect (a golfer) would be really curious to know the secret of the one-legged golfer!

Secrets torment and tantalize, they start small and chip away resistance until a person just has to know. The person feels like they’ve got to know the secret; like the secret that helped the one legged golfer and they imagine how it would help them!

Of course, secrets aren’t just for headlines.

You can build an entire story in your sales page around a secret; it can be everything from a conspiracy to a forecast.

You just need to arouse curiosity by hiding or obscuring something that the prospect wants to know and that can only be found out by the prospect doing what you want them to do.

Just leave out a few critical facts and you’ve got that curiosity starting.

  • Maybe you talk about the solution to their problem but you don’t tell them what the solution is.
  • Maybe you talk about the results they can have but you don’t tell them exactly how to achieve those results.
  • Maybe you hint at valuable information but don’t actually divulge it.
  • Maybe you have a “rags-to-riches” story but how the “riches” were achieved isn’t spelled out.

You can see that they all pique the prospects curiosity by promising to tell secrets, directly or indirectly, that they know but that most people don’t know.

In headlines, there are some proven and powerful techniques for planting the curiosity seed and they work well in the rest of the sales letter also, here are some of them:

  • Use a “how to” which tells them how you can show them how to do something they want.
  • Make a big, bold promise and back it up with a big, bold guarantee.
  • Ask a question they don’t know but want to.
  • Make an outrageous statement and promise to show how or prove it.

It really isn’t more than that, just hold that tasty carrot out so they know what they’ll get (the strong benefits) and let it do its work until they’ll follow you just to get the carrot (the secret of how to get the benefits); both together are important.

Just don’t forget that call to action 🙂

The Seeds of Curiosity

As far as I know this was coined by Joe Sugarman, at least he’s the first person I heard who named it.

It is a create way to use a sort of “mini-curiosity” to keep people reading from one paragraph and section to the next.

You see this a lot on TV and in good sales copy.

How it works is that at the end of a paragraph you add a short sentence that gets the reader to want to read the next paragraph. Joe has some good examples so I’ll just use them:

  • But there’s more.
  • So read on.
  • But I didn’t stop there.
  • Let me explain.
  • Now here comes the good part.
  • And here’s why.

These are sort of subconscious cues that spark a person’s curiosity just enough to read the next paragraph.

Don’t you just want to know the explanation or what the “good part” is?

Anyway, don’t over do it but it’s a great way to use little bits of curiosity to get people to keep reading your sales copy and that should improve your conversions.


Curiosity, the “most powerful psychological tool” and “the one major psychological reason that makes direct marketing so successful today”.

Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it?

Well, it is!

Curiosity is creating an “itch” that just must be scratched.

It’s such a powerful motivator because of the perceived advantage it gives the person who satisfies their curiosity; they believe it will give them power and superiority whether it is making more money, having a better love life, hitting longer golf shots, or having more successful children.

To use it, you tantalize the prospect with benefits and that you know how to get those benefits.

You weave a “spell” of curiosity so that their innate desire compels them to do what you want (buy, sign up, etc.) just to get the answer.

Promising to divulge “secrets” is a great way to do that.

To learn more about using curiosity and about having better sales copy, just sign up here

E-mail Address:

* I Will Never, Ever, Sell, Rent or Give Out Your Info

How do you use curiosity?

Do you have any examples you really like of using curiosity?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Talk soon,

David Husnian

The Shameless (Ethical) Marketer

O.Y. Don’t forget to retweet this! Use the button on the page or Tweet this:
What’s the Copywriter’s Most Powerful Psychological Tool http://bit.ly/1ZVDTd (via @DavidHusnian)

O.O.Y. In case you’re interested, here is where you can get Sugarman’s Copywriting book and Joe Vitale’s Hypnotic Writing book.


Brought to you by Quote Adder

2 comments to What’s the Copywriter’s Most Powerful Psychological Tool

  • loui

    have been a student of marketing and copywriting writing for over a year now and this article on curiosity is the best i have read. Well done.

  • David Husnian

    Thanks, I appreciate your comment!

    I tried to make this not only the best free course but one of the best courses.

    Please feel free to ask any questions or put anything else that you can share or that you need.


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>