Sally Hogshead was our guest last week. She joined the show to talk about her most recent book Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation.
In a separate tweet she referred to this show as the Cliff Notes version of her book. (Add kind and generous to her list of great qualities along with excellent writer and valuable resource for your brand.)
Following my guest's lead here's your first three steps to learning from Sally how to Fascinate your audience:
1. Yes, read this post.
2. Yes, listen to our conversation in streaming mode at this link.
3. Yes! Go Buy Her Book. This is the 3rd and most important step. It’s well-written, well-organized and well-presented with data, profiles, anecdotes of brands that fascinate and those that don’t.
But, wait, there’s more!
She includes steps any brand of any size can take today to persuade, captivate and ultimately...fascinate.
Now, on to step 1.
You have legions of fans. I’m not encouraging stalking but where are you, what cool projects are you working on right now?
My team and I just launched a project that I am really excited about; it is called “The F Score Personality Test.” It is a fascination score and you can take the test online now. We wanted to help people learn what is fascinating about you, your personal brand.
Based upon research with thousands of people we developed a test of 28 questions where you can discover how your personality is fascinating other people.
In the first three days we already had 3000 people take the test. It is not a test about whether you are fascinating it is about HOW you are fascinating. The test tells you which of your traits are most compelling to other people and how you can use those to be more influential with your audience.
[Host note: The test is well, fascinating. And the results are even more fascinating...and useful.]
We’re here to talk about your book: Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. Our friend Erika Anderson coined a great phrase in her book Being Strategic. That term is reasonable aspiration or hoped-for goal. What was your reasonable aspiration or hoped-for goal in writing this book?
I had a lot of goals in writing this book. As an author, writing is an intense process. I wanted to find an idea that I could own. I spent the first 6 months exploring themes that had not really been discussed.
The notion of fascination has been around for thousands of years, dating back to ancient times, but it was not considered a positive trait. I was really charting it through history...people at one time thought it was evil. It was at once considered a crime and paralysis of connections. I tried to tie it together with my marketing expertise and apply it today.
How will you know you have reached it?
When you have a connection with people where you can create messages and relationships that people focus on first and foremost. It is about creating a fascinating message that captures attention and interest. It must be effective and overpowering everything around it.
What’s been the most surprising response you’ve had?
The book is very much about brands, big business and ideas. It is surprising how people want to take the 7 triggers and apply them to their personal lives.
People are most interested in figuring out how they are using those 7 triggers and how to hone those triggers to be more effective AND which triggers they are not using.
What are those 7 triggers?
Your writing style was personal and immediate. It seemed you were writing to a single person. Me, in this case. But, describe the person you were talking to as you wrote your book.
I was writing to someone who works in a creative occupation, either an ad agency or product development, or sales and were frustrated with how the traditional means of marketing were not helping them accomplish their goals of being influential. There had to be a new way to make their messages more captivating. I put it in the context of how the reader would be immediately able to apply the knowledge directly to their lives.
Do you have a favorite corporate example for each one?
Godiva. We developed a drink called Chocolixier. There was a whole sensory experience that lets the consumer relate.
Apple does this as well. You are able to be a part of the brand. It is about an openness and availability. You create a space where people want to draw closer. Brands are incorporating more of the Lust trigger.
This is a delicate trigger. People become curious to learn more.
KFC they keep their ingredients secret – in separate warehouses
Coca-Cola their recipe is also kept under lock and key.
The companies have successfully perpetuated the aura and intrigue.
A more complex trigger about establishing deadlines and consequences. You will become fascinated by the consequences. Alarm makes us respond very quickly to avoid negative consequences.
Brands can use this.
- QVC they say only 10 left in stock.
- FedEx When it has to be there overnight
- IRS We know that as much as we dislike paying taxes, we dislike the option of going to jail if we don’t pay our taxes.
Does a successful brand need to pull all 7 of these triggers?
Not at all. Very few brands use all of the triggers. Most choose one primary trigger that is near and dear to their consumer’s hearts and most effective for their goals.
Can they be successful with just one? Which one is the most common?
Brands try to use the Trust trigger without really earning it. Trust is EARNED!
Prestige is another. Most companies don’t live up to it. They may commoditize it or make it available to the masses.
Let’s talk about the limbic area of the brain, shall we? In your book, you write that the limbic area of the brain is the area of the brain, that part that houses rage, ecstasy, sadness, sexual arousal and fight-or-flight.That’s the mecca then for both advertisers and leaders, isn’t it? Getting a reaction, and getting the desired reaction.
That is one of the differences in using fascination in creating a message.
First is using traditional marketing that is housed in one part of the brain which is why marketing messages tend to sneak at people.
Fascination messages prompt a reaction from a deeper, more instinctive place. The Triggers don’t live in a rational place. They live in this limbic area so when a message that is truly fascinating, this prompts a reaction that you cannot ignore.
You write about Robert Fantz and his research around baby’s first party trick. That’s facial recognition. And his experiments proved that even at birth we arrive prepackaged with survival mechanisms to help us connect with others and form relationships.
Would you say our culture, here in the US, reinforces those mechanisms or chips away at them?
It is very complex. Our brains work really hard at birth to work with facial recognition. It is really important that we learn how to smile very early so we can develop a connection with our parents. Our brains are literally hardwired to accomplish Facial Recognition from birth.
Contrast that with Social Media, which has little Facial Recognition. There is this whole range of information that we look for when we are communicating that is essential to figure out someone’s intentions, to understand their communication and influences – all this gets wiped out with Social Media. It does allow for more connections but what drops away are the thousands of cues of what people are truly trying to communicate to you.
We have to find new ways to infuse that in our Social Media messages and the most simplistic way is with emoticons and acronyms. In this style of communication our brains are under surge and we sometimes feel more alienated and dissatisfied. We are facially scanning for verbal cues.
Human contact is very important in creating trust and we have lost a lot of this contact and interaction due to technology. Picking up the phone and calling someone can increase the fascination concept versus just an email.
What is the FFA area our brain? Why should companies care?
FFA or fusiform face area is a part of the brain designed for one’s use to determine what another person’s facial expression is trying to tell you. The whole part of your brain is highly customized to help you understand other people’s faces.
There are many ways car makers play off of this. They make facelike structures with the headlights and the bumper and grill.
There is something that works with personifying something that would otherwise be very cold. When you put a face on it, it becomes more accessible, approachable and more memorable because it starts activating the FFA area.
What are the Gold Hallmarks of a fascinating message?
Gold Hallmarks are the ways in which you can evaluate if something is being fascinating or not. Fascinating things have very specific traits in common:
1.They incite conversation. We want to talk about them, whether we like them or not. We may not even really care about them.
2. It provokes strong and immediate emotional reaction. We can love it or hate it, but it is an immediate reaction.
3. It creates advocates. It doesn’t try to be ALL things to ALL people but rather have a core slice of the population putting in a lot of energy, whether they are for or against it.
4. It becomes cultural shorthand for a specific set of actions or values. Harley Davidson for example – if I said he is the kind of guy that drives a Harley, you would know exactly what I mean. OR if I said that is the Cadillac of toasters. You would understand the value and image.
5. It forces competitors to realign around it. It creates such a significant space in the marketplace that competitors can no longer continue on the path they were before. They have to move, make way and adjust. When Chick fil-A introduced their fried chicken sandwich, McD’s had to quickly follow up with their own.
6. Triggers social revolutions. People become so passionate about it beyond the sheer utility of the product and it changes the way they think and act on a much bigger level. It is no longer about the parody level. It stands for much more. Brands can live on a higher level.
Now. Is there a connection between the Gold Hallmarks of a fascinating message and the 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation?
In part three of the book, I outline the “how to.” Every trigger can help you achieve one of the Gold Hallmarks in a different way.
- The Lust trigger is about drawing people closer.
- The Power trigger is about controlling people.
- The Prestige trigger is about elevating you above people.
By applying the triggers in specific ways you can achieve the Gold Hallmarks, but it depends on what is natural for your brand, what is appropriate and the goals that you want to achieve out of that.
Which one determines a brand’s survival?
In the economy of where we are right now, the most survival oriented one is to provoke a strong and immediate reaction. Middle of the road will not cut it anymore.
What are steps a listener can take to make their brand more fascinating?
It is about taking what you already have and the person and company that you already are and finding a way to apply the triggers so they connect with your audience.
Figure out what your primary trigger is – the way in which your brand, naturally and authentically speaks to people and makes them more interested in speaking with you.
Your book seems written for a brand’s external audience: customers. Do you see any difference for their internal audience: employees?
This ties into the material in my first book about creating a radical career-becoming more valuable and retaining top talent.
It is important for employers to fascinate their staff if they want to be able to keep them. People are fascinated with time off versus more money as it demonstrates the employer using the Trust trigger.
Which companies drive higher cash-flows: fascinating companies or companies we respect?
The two of them are not mutually exclusive. Respect is a form of fascination. The relationship is very intertwined. We are sometimes fascinated by brands we don’t respect.
Jägermeister is a prime example. It tastes so horrible but after you do a shot there is a sense of pride and group bonding. No one respects the brand but people do it anyway.
Thanks, Sally. You've shared wonderful insights into our shared triggers, triggers that we can learn to leverage to persuade, captivate and...Fascinate.