By Joe Vitale
On a sunny, warm day in August, 1996 I kneeled over the grave of P.T. Barnum and had one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.
I had begun researching the famous showman in order to write my forthcoming new book, There's a Customer Born Every Minute (to be released in October, 1997). I had visited the Barnum Museum, the Historical Library in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and met with Barnum scholars, biographers, and collectors of his writings. I wanted to visit Barnum's grave and pay my respects. Little did I know that the incredible, magical experience would change my life forever...
Recently I went online to hunt for old books by some of my favorite authors, this time I went after anything by Robert Collier, mail order advertising genius and author of such classic books as The Secret of the Ages and The Robert Collier Letter Book.
I typed in his name at one of my favorite book search engines (which I'm going to keep a secret as long as I can), and to my amazement several new (to me) titles came up. I stared wide-eyed, my mouth open, as I saw that someone had two copies of a magazine Collier edited in the late 1920's called "Mind, Inc." I couldn't believe it. I immediately grabbed the phone, called, and bought those magazines. A few days later they arrived.
I opened the brown package, my heart racing with excitement, and nearly drooled as I slid the little paperback sized magazines onto my desk. They were well worn but intact. I thumbed through them and marveled at my find. Here were new articles by one of my heroes, my mentor, a man who changed my life not once but twice with his books. I felt like a happy child on Christmas morning, getting the gifts he longed for and needed most.
As I looked over Collier's magazines, something shifted in me. I saw an advertising technique at work that seemed hypnotic in power. I had one of those "ah-ha!" experiences great inventors write about. I held one of the issues in my hand and read the back cover. Collier had an ad there that began --
"How can I tell if I am working aright?" many people ask.
There is an easy, simple rule. With it in front of him, not even a child could go wrong. Just ask yourself one question. If your answer is "Yes." You are on the wrong track, and you will never make much progress, until you get off it and on the right track.
If your answer is "No," then you are working in the right direction, and you have only to keep it up to attain any goal you desire.
That question is the basis of the Lesson in the next issue of "Mind, Inc." If you are looking for a road map to guide you through the mental realm, send for it!
Did you catch what Collier did?
Let me give you another example. This one comes from Collier's editorial in the opening pages of the other issue I found:
Dear Reader: Twelve years ago, the three examining physicians at the head office of the Life Extension Institute made a thorough physical examination of the writer. They had him hop and jump and do sundry things to stir his heart into action, then they listened with their stethoscopes and nodded knowingly to each other, finally gathering in a corner to whisper earnestly together, with many a meaning glance in the writer's direction.
The upshot of their conference was a solemn warning against all forms of violent exercise. The heart was dangerously affected, in their opinion. Tennis, horseback, swimming -- all these were taboo. Even running for a street car was likely to result disastrously. If the writer wanted excitement, he might walk (as long as he did it sedately) or crawl about the floor on all fours!
That was twelve years ago, remember. A few months back, he had occasion to be examined for life insurance. The examining physician knew of the Life Extension Institute findings, so he asked the Head Examiner of his company to check his report. The Head Examiner came, made the same exhaustive heart tests as the Institute and put away his instruments with a chuckle. "When you get ready to pass out," he said, "they'll have to take out that heart and hit it with a rock to make it stop beating. Work, play, do anything you like in reason. The heart can stand anything you can!"
What made the difference? Perhaps the following lesson may give you an indication."
Collier did it again! Did you catch his method?
Collier told you just enough to intrigue you, to get you hooked, to get you interested -- and then he stopped!
In the first example he cleverly trapped you into wanting to know the question he kept referring to. But he never told you the question. He snared you and then asked you to send for the next lesson, where the mystery of the question would be revealed. How could anyone not send for it? I sat at my desk reading Collier's ad more than seventy years after he wrote it and I wanted to send in the coupon, too. But Collier is long dead. I'll never know the question!
In the second example Collier cleverly told you two intriguing stories, asked the question that every reader would then have on their mind -- put then didn't answer it! Again, Collier generated interest, and then told you to read the magazine to find the answer. Talk about hypnotic writing!
And that's how you get people to read your sales materials. You pull them into it. You grab their attention, keep them reading, get them wanting what you have and then -- stop and tell them to send in a check, or call you, to get what they now so badly desire.
Did you notice how I began this article?
I used the Robert Collier technique to hypnotize you into reading more. I began saying I had an experience at Barnum's grave. What was the experience? What happened? What's my new book about? All of these are questions in your mind as you read the opening. It's hypnotic. And if you've read this far, you know the method works.
The next time you want to write something and be sure people actually read it, remember the Robert Collier technique. Start by writing about something that will interest the people you are addressing. Tell them an interesting story. Get them wondering about something that they want to know more about. And then STOP. Change direction. Write about something else that may still be related to the opening, but don't resolve the opening until the end of the article. And maybe not even there. Maybe you'll want people to send in a coupon or call you for the answer. For example:
Marketing specialist Joe "Mr. Fire!" Vitale is the author of nine books, including "Hypnotic Writing", which answers the question, "What will *you* do when you learn to hypnotize people with the power of words alone and get them to obey your commands?"