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The Triggers of Success: How to Trigger a Successful Sale
through the Power of Psychological Triggers 

By Joseph Sugarman 

A desire to buy something often involves a subconscious
decision. In fact, I claim that 95% of buying decisions are
indeed subconscious. 

Knowing the subconscious reasons why people buy, and using this
information in a fair and constructive way, will trigger
greater sales response -- often far beyond what you could

I recall a time when I applied one of these subconscious devices
by changing just one word of an ad, and response doubled. I
refer to these subconscious devices as psychologal "triggers." A
psychological trigger is the strongest motivational factor any
salesperson or copywriter can use to evoke a sale. 

There are 30 triggers in all, some of which I will reveal to you
in a moment. Each trigger, when deployed, has the power to 
increase sales and response beyond what you would normally

There are triggers, for example, that will cause your prospect
to feel guilty if they don't purchase your product. Let me give
you an example. Whenever you receive in the mail a sales
solicitation with free personalized address stickers, you often 
feel guilty if you use the stickers and don't send something
back -- often far in excess of the value of the stickers.
Fundraising companies use this method a great deal. You receive
50 cents worth of stickers and send back a $20 bill. 

Another example are those surveys that are sent out asking for
you to spend about 20 minutes of your time filling them out.
Enclosed in the mailing you, might find a dollar bill included
to encourage you to feel guilty, and entice you to fill out the
survey. And you often spend a lot more than one dollar of your
time to do that. 

Guilt is a strong motivator. I have to admit that I've used 
guilt in many selling situations, in mail order ads and on TV --
with great success, I might add. 

I call one of the most powerful triggers a "satisfaction
conviction," which is a guarantee of satisfaction. But don't
confuse this with the typical trial period you find in mail
order, i.e., "If your not happy within 30 days, you can return
your purchase for a full refund." A satisfaction conviction is 
different. Basically it takes the trial period and adds
something that makes it go well beyond the trial period. 

For example, if I were offering a subscription, instead of
saying, "If at anytime you're not happy with your subscription,
we'll refund your unused portion," and instead said, "If at any
time you're not happy with your subscription, let us know and
we'll refund your entire subscription price -- even if you
decide to cancel just before the last issue." 

Basically you're saying to your prospect that you are so sure
that they'll like the subscription, that you are willing to go
beyond what is traditionally offered with other subscriptions.
This in fact gives the reader the sense that the company really
knows it has a winning product and solidly stands behind the
product and your satisfaction. 

Is this technique effective? You bet. In many tests, I've
doubled response -- sometimes by adding just one sentence that
conveys a good satisfaction conviction. 

I received an e-mail from a company, a subsidiary of eBay,
requesting my advice. They had an e-mail solicitation that
wasn't drawing the response that they had expected. What was

Looking over what they had created, I saw several mistakes, many
of which would have been avoided if they knew the psychological
triggers that cause people to buy. Let me give you just one 

In the subject line of most e-mails that have solicited me, I
have been able to tell, at a glance, that the solicitation was
for a specific service or an offer of something that I was
clearly able to determine. Examples such as "Reduce your CD and
DVD costs 50%," Or "Lose weight quickly," pretty much told me
what they were selling. Was this good or bad? 

The problem with those subject lines is that the reader was able
to quickly determine: 1) that it was an advertisement; and 2)
that it was for some specific product or service. 

Most people don't like advertising. And most people won't make
the effort to open their e-mail solicitation if they think they
are getting an advertising message -- unless they are sincerely
interested in buying something that the advertisement offers. 

The subject line of an e-mail is similar to the headline of a
mail order ad, or the copy on an envelope, or the first few
minutes of an infomercial. You've got to grab somebody's
attention and then get them to take the next step. In the case
of the envelope, you want them to open it. In the case of an 
infomercial, you want them to keep watching, and in the case of
an e-mail, you want them open up the e-mail and read your

The key, therefore, is to get a person to want to open your
message by putting something into the subject area of your
e-mail that does not appear to be an advertising message --
one that would compel them to take the next step. And the
best trigger to use for this is the trigger of curiosity. 

There are a number of ways you can use curiosity to literally 
force a person to take the next step. You can then use this 
valuable tool to put a reader in the correct frame of mind to
buy what you have to offer. 

Once again, all the principles apply to every form of
communication -- whether it be advertising, marketing or
personal selling. And to know these triggers is the key to more
effective communication and most importantly, the avoidance of
costly errors that waste time and money. 

Joe Sugarman, the best-selling author and top copywriter who has
achieved legendary fame in direct marketing, is best known for
his highly successful mail-order catalog company, JS&A, and his
hit product, BluBlocker Sunglasses. Joe's new breakthrough
book, "Triggers," cracks the human psychological code by
identifying 30 triggers that influence people to buy.


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