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The psychological trick used in travel scams works in marketing, too

Please note: We are not suggesting you should scam your customers.

We’re telling you about this scam so you can:

  • Understand why it works.
  • Use the underlying principles to sell your product ethically.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, imagine this: You’re on vacation, on your way to a party, and having the time of your life.

The psychological trick used in travel scams works in marketing, too

The taxi driver offers you some drugs… a little something to make the night more exciting. Against your better judgement, you say, “Why not?”

When you get out of the car, a couple of police officers walk by, search you, and say they’ll place you under arrest if you don’t shell out a big wad of cash.

Problem is… they’re not real police officers. They’re scammers. And they’re relying on the Creating A Problem principle to trick you.

Here’s how to use this principle in your marketing: Customers are not always aware of the problems they have.

Take these two lines of copy, for example:

  • “Washing your face with your hands is like brushing your teeth with your fingers.”
  • “There are 16M colonies of bacteria on the mattress you sleep on every night.”

You probably didn’t know either of these problems.

But now that you’ve read them, you want to solve them.

That’s because it’s human nature to try to solve problems we become alerted to, even if the problem wasn’t really affecting us in the first place.

“Create” more problems, and your customers will be more likely to buy your solution.

P.S. Just make sure they’re real problems and not… you know… phony cop setups.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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