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Word Blasting

I thought I had learned something about writing. I was even feeling a bit cocky.

You see, I've been doing a lot of study recently on how to use words to persuade and motivate people. I figure that's a critical part of writing technique. And I really have learned from all that hard work.

Then I came across the following video called "The Power of Words." It is less than a couple of minutes. If you are into how to blast your message through the roof, I can't think of a better place to learn technical humility and get a handle on your real size. Come and get some!

<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Hzgzim5m7oU?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

After that, I'm hitting the copywriting books harder than before. I want to be able to do that as second nature--and not just in headlines.

I will be adding more posts on this thread as I come across tidbits like that--ones that show how to charge words with high-voltage power to make people notice and act.

I believe Ayn Rand had this ability even though it is not discussed too often. As I come up with examples, I will post them and discuss alternatives she could have used. And the effects, of course.

As a starter, here is something. Rand bashed hard and often, especially academics and intellectuals. Evil. Swamp. Depraved. Zombies. Breeding ground needing disinfectant. And so on.

Bashing is a great trigger for controversy, but technique-wise, that's easy stuff. If you want to get attention and a rise out of a person, call him a nasty name and/or accuse him of something vile. Or do it to a group he belongs to.

I want the good stuff, though. There are other parts to Rand's style that tug at your heart, inspire you, pump the adrenaline and so on. These are the ones I will be focusing on.

I have a feeling it's going to be a pleasure--a sensual delight in an intellectual garden--to seek them out.

Back to the video. The one above is basically an ad for an Internet copywriting service. The video maker lifted the story from a Spanish-language winner of a 2008 Cannes short film contest, "Historia de un letrero." Here is the original:

<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zyGEEamz7ZM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I like both of them.

For the "wow" factor, I hate to say it, but I like the English version better. This is one of those times where the copy has more direct impact than the original. But that's not a negative. Not really. The original has plenty of impact all by itself and a beautiful charm the copy lacks.

Michael

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Michael:

I could not agree with you more.

To be able to "turn" or "change" the semantic angle of the words that trigger logical, emotional and ethos related interactions, literally, changes

behavior, understanding and meaning.

Participation in this thread will be a true joy.

Thanks.

Adam

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I believe Ayn Rand had this ability even though it is not discussed too often. As I come up with examples, I will post them and discuss alternatives she could have used. And the effects, of course.

The person who first introduced me to Rand's work says that his introduction came in a book store, when he saw the title The Virtue of Selfishness and decided to pick it up because the title was so shocking.

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  • 2 months later...

Here's a great video on point by a young guy I have been studying, Brendon Burchard. This one is quite funny.

It takes the word blasting concept from the other angle, though. (And he does not use the term "word blasting.") Instead of the word immediately conjuring up highly-charged emotional images, what Brendon did at one point was remove words altogether, leaving just the visual gestures and emotion. The video would not have been nearly as funny had he not done that.

And then the kicker. He makes sure you understand that it was a metaphor at the end.

<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/kZrIpnveOT4?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="425"></iframe>

I call this a fabricated word blast.

But it is not for the general public--only for people who have seen the video. If, later, they get off track in business because of being overwhelmed, all someone has to ask is, "Are you skydiving?" and the power of the image immediately comes to mind, probably with good results on them getting back into focus.

Michael

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Here's a great video on point by a young guy I have been studying, Brendan Burchard. This one is quite funny.

It takes the word blasting concept from the other angle, though. (And he does not use the term "word blasting.") Instead of the word immediately conjuring up highly-charged emotional images, what Brendan did at one point was remove words altogether, leaving just the visual gestures and emotion. The video would not have been nearly as funny had he not done that.

And then the kicker. He makes sure you understand that it was a metaphor at the end.

I call this a fabricated word blast.

But it is not for the general public--only for people who have seen the video. If, later, they get off track in business because of being overwhelmed, all someone has to ask is, "Are you skydiving?" and the power of the image immediately comes to mind, probably with good results on them getting back into focus.

Michael

Whew, that got my pulse going in sympathy and reminder of my 3 jumps in my 20's.

No tandem jumps then, solo with static line from 3000feet. Stepping out under the wing and letting go when the jumpmaster taps you, and then the horrifying few seconds when you're supposed to stabilize your body in a star for a short free-fall - except you forget all the training and flip all over the sky.

The pros down on the ground got their kicks listening to the newbies screams - yes, on the ground.

Then the chute kicks open, and you're a dandelion floating peacefully - and you don't want it to end.

The landing, ouch. Old army-issue T80 parachutes then, and you come in fast and hard.

I managed OK, until the third jump of the weekend - screwed up my foot badly.

Of the gung-ho three of us from the paper who went for this together, two came to work on crutches, Monday.

Tony (I was foolish, once.)

Thanks for the memory, Michael. B)

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Tony,

You know, this is not just a metaphor for business. It's also a good metaphor for serious writing.

You learn all the rules and think you actually know something. But once you start on a book, the "big out there" takes your breath away, then that damn strap starts flapping on you head and you forget everything you learned.

Skydiving.

Michael

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Nice piece Michael.

Crutches on Monday! lol.

I call it the Tuesday morning wall that everyone hits from the weekend motivational, est, Landmark Forums, etc.

All these programs teach that there is a reality out there and it is not going to change, but until that strap starts boring the hole through your fore head, you kinda think you are above it.

It is like a war plan which basically goes out the window five (5) feet onto the beach.

Or, the football game plan that changes during the first series from scrimmage when the hitting begins.

Adam

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's something more usable for finding word blasts. It comes from a very fascinating ad-woman: Sally Hogshead.

She wrote a work called Fascinate, where she deals with fascination triggers. (A trigger in this meaning is a characteristic that subconsciously captures and holds our attention.) Her conclusions are grounded in marketing testing and neuroscience.

I've read this book and was already a HUGE fan, but, in her promotional video below, Sally nailed how to use this stuff better than anywhere else I've seen:

<iframe width="560" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/nJrlcIgauVM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The idea is to decide what emotion your target will best respond to, then use the appropriate trigger. (You WILL profile your target audience, right?)

Here's a breakdown. Note that Sally works within an advertising and marketing context, but I see her ideas equally applying to things like writing a novel or even political persuasion.

1. If you want to take command of your audience, you use the power trigger.

2. If you want to attract your audience with emotion, you use the passion trigger.

3. If you want to arouse curiosity in your audience, you use the mystique trigger.

4. If you want to increase respect in your audience, you use the prestige trigger.

5. If you want create urgency in your audience, you use the alarm trigger.

6. If you want to get your audience to take a risk and change the game, you use the rebellion trigger.

7. If you want to build loyalty with your audience, you use the trust trigger.

Well, that's theory. Let's take it out into the middle of the floor and let the cat smell it. As an example, suppose I want to convey the basic following message:

Atlas Shrugged
is great.

Here are some word blasts I came up with off the top of my head just now:

For an audience you believe will respond well to power:

Atlas Shrugged
demolishes collectivist obfuscation.

Atlas Shrugged
rewards the reader with a triumph of human will and reason.

For an audience you believe will respond well to passion:

Atlas Shrugged
infects you with a blazing vision of fierce justice.

Atlas Shrugged
storms and soars on the wings of the human spirit.

For an audience you believe will respond well to mystique:

Atlas Shrugged
exposes the secret cancer that is killing our world.

Deep within
Atlas Shrugged
is the answer to an ancient mystery.

For an audience you believe will respond well to prestige:

Atlas Shrugged
is for thinking producers, not brain-dead moochers.

Atlas Shrugged
raises the already uncommon bar of enlightenment.

For an audience you believe will respond well to alarm:

Atlas Shrugged
or an ocean of blood. You choose.

Is it too late for
Atlas Shrugged
to do any good? Maybe not...

For an audience you believe will respond well to rebellion:

Atlas Shrugged
takes you for a wild walk on the righteous side.

Atlas Shrugged
breaks the rules and breaks with rulers.

For an audience you believe will respond well to trust:

Atlas Shrugged
earned its place on bookshelves the hard way.

In today's rotten culture, it's a comfort to know that
Atlas Shrugged
is still selling.

I could goose these up if I work them right, but I think they're pretty good for making my point. And, yup, they work well. Sally is on to something.

Hopefully some writers in our subcommunity will take note and "un-bore" their tedious style.

Word blast-wise, that's all for this post, but I want to leave a tidbit from Sally here on record. It's only because she's such a genius. In the Powerpoint presentation below, she says what I have lived for years, and I never identified it as well as she did.

<div style="width:425px" id="__ss_8599942"> <strong style="display:block;margin:12px 0 4px"><a href="http://www.slideshare.net/sallyhogshead/sit-on-the-throne-of-agony" title="Sit on the Throne of Agony" target="_blank">Sit on the Throne of Agony</a></strong> <iframe src="http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/8599942" width="425" height="355" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe> <div style="padding:5px 0 12px"> View more <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/" target="_blank">presentations</a> from <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/sallyhogshead" target="_blank">Sally Hogshead</a> </div> </div>

Michael

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Atlas Shrugged is a great, prescient novel for adults. I think you'll enjoy reading it.

--Brant

the less you're selling the harder the selling; the less they know you the harder the selling; the greater the markup the lesser the relative value; a salesman coming to your home wants 30% or it's not worth his time to be there; form over substance is for buyers who don't need what you're selling; serious products business to business need serious product and industry knowledge and no wasting anybody's time; if you're a drug salesman you're a serious bullshitter to want-to-believe doctors who don't really know what they are prescribing their patients in many cases--statins for instance

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Well, that's theory. Let's take it out into the middle of the floor and let the cat smell it. As an example, suppose I want to convey the basic following message:

Atlas Shrugged
is great.

Here are some word blasts I came up with off the top of my head just now:

For an audience you believe will respond well to power:

Atlas Shrugged
demolishes collectivist obfuscation.

Atlas Shrugged
rewards the reader with a triumph of human will and reason.

For an audience you believe will respond well to passion:

Atlas Shrugged
infects you with a blazing vision of fierce justice.

Atlas Shrugged
storms and soars on the wings of the human spirit.

For an audience you believe will respond well to mystique:

Atlas Shrugged
exposes the secret cancer that is killing our world.

Deep within
Atlas Shrugged
is the answer to an ancient mystery.

For an audience you believe will respond well to prestige:

Atlas Shrugged
is for thinking producers, not brain-dead moochers.

Atlas Shrugged
raises the already uncommon bar of enlightenment.

For an audience you believe will respond well to alarm:

Atlas Shrugged
or an ocean of blood. You choose.

Is it too late for
Atlas Shrugged
to do any good? Maybe not...

For an audience you believe will respond well to rebellion:

Atlas Shrugged
takes you for a wild walk on the righteous side.

Atlas Shrugged
breaks the rules and breaks with rulers.

For an audience you believe will respond well to trust:

Atlas Shrugged
earned its place on bookshelves the hard way.

In today's rotten culture, it's a comfort to know that
Atlas Shrugged
is still selling.

Michael

Hey Michael, Now that is some fine lateral thinking there! An ad agency would grab you like a shot. Reminds me of Edward deBono, and his "Six Hats."

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Psychological triggers are rarely discussed in O-Land and l-land, so there is one misconception that I should highlight.

Triggers exist within a context. Without the context they don't work. The major components of the context are:

1. The influenced person cannot be thinking about them at the time (otherwise he can resist them on purpose if he is aware that they are being used)--in fact if the person is distracted, all the better; and

2. Trigger stacking. A trigger isn't like a magic button that automatically turns a person into a zombie. It's more like a nudge. If a person gets enough nudges, he eventually falls into the behavior that is intended. This implies that triggers usually have to be used in conjunction with other triggers to work rather than focusing on just one.

But there is a scientific basis for this, and the neurological reasons for working are different from trigger to trigger. Here is one aspect of one trigger to show what I mean. The following comments on the power trigger are from Sally Hogshead's book Fascinate:

(p. 136):

In the presence of power, we instinctively become submissive. When we're in the presence of someone who is more powerful, our innate response mechanisms are altered--translating into essentially a "deer in the headlights" response, because "your body is preparing to have heightened attentiveness to what others are doing and how you're being evaluated," says Deborah Gruenfeld of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. We know, for example, that there are actually distinct differences in serotonin levels based on the position in the hierarchy--and that serotonin levels change as animal subjects move into alpha or beta position.

. . .

(p. 140):

Deep within our tribal psyche, we share a need to focus on the most powerful members of our group. It's a raw, primal catalyst. Programmed into our social code is a need to "follow the leader," to find role models and fixate upon them. Duke University neurobiologist Dr. Michael Platt affirmed this by developing a scientific experiment that I'll call "Entertainment Weekly Goes to the Lab."

Platt offered thristy rhesus monkeys a choice: a drink of their favorite beverage, or an opportunity to look at photos of "celebrity" monkeys (the Jay-Z and Beyoncé of the monkey kingdom). Celebrity monkeys were those that commanded attention in their pack, through power, food and sexual magnetism. Not only did the monkeys want to look at their celebrities, but so strong was the fascination with power that the monkeys chose photo viewing over drinking. And even the celebrity monkeys were fascinated by images of fellow celeb monkeys.

I believe this is one of the operating forces behind crowd psychology. It's well known that if you get the leader of a lynch mob to stand down, the mob almost always follows.

At any rate, when my Atlas Shrugged examples above are read, they should be imagined within a context where people are already leaning in the direction of that trigger. Then they work a lot better than simply suggesting that a person read Atlas Shrugged. They touch what the person is already feeling. (nudge... nudge... nudge...)

If a person reads them with the frame of mind that "nobody can manipulate me, gawdammit," then they won't have any effect.

But since it is impossible to stay in full focus 24 hours a day resisting these things, even the disdainful grumpy dude (I would say, especially the disdainful grumpy dude) gets influenced by messages with triggers all the time without realizing it.

To keep in line with the theme of this thread (word blasting), this post highlights that an essential component of a word blast is the right context.

Michael

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Good Lord!

I just reread my last post and it just occurred to me that, given a discussion I am involved with elsewhere on OL right now where Jeff Riggenbach and I tangled a bit, and where power in human nature was discussed, when I said "disdainful grumpy dude" above, some people might think I am referring to him.

While it is true that Jeff can get disdainful, and it is true that he can get grumpy, and it is true that he is a dude, I was not talking about him. Instead, I was referring to my imaginary gawdammit feller.

Michael

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