Direct Response Copywriter
Rochester, New York
Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.
Centuries ago, most people (including many experts) believed in Geocentrism–the view that the earth is at the center of the solar system.
Now, when it was discovered that the geocentric measurements didn’t explain some irregular motions of the planets, the geocentric astronomers developed epicycles–visual representations of orbits–to make the measurements “work.”
Well, after a while, these epicycles failed to explain some things too. And so the geocentrists invented epi-epicycles to make the epicycles work…
…and so on and so forth until people were eventually forced to accept the far simpler heliocentric model–the view that the sun is at the center.
What’s this got to do with marketing and copywriting?
People resist reality in some really wacky ways. Pre-existing beliefs, true or false, are like security blankets for the brain. People don’t want their “blankies” ripped from them.
Such uncertainty signals to the amygdalae, “Danger!” So people come up with any craziness at all in order to maintain their beliefs. One more “epicycle.” And then an “epi-epicycle.” And so on.
The lesson: it’s better not to try to change your audience’s beliefs. At least not up front.
Instead, capitalize on their pre-existing beliefs. Use these beliefs as an opportunity to enter into their mind. At that point you have more free reign to do what you want.
Here’s an example of a company having a difficult time getting this concept:
Atrium Innovations was recently acquired by Nestle. Well, you should see the complaints from Garden of Life customers (Garden of Life is an Atrium brand)… They’re pissed off, and a lot of ’em are leaving for good.
The problem goes back to the marketing people and copywriters framing the acquisition as though it’s a continuity.
The pre-existing belief of Garden of Life customers is “Nestle is EVIL. They use a bunch of bad ingredients. They’re bad bad bad!” And here are the Garden of Life people saying Nestle “reflects their values.”
I’ll tell you right now what they should’ve said…
“We’re going over to the DARK SIDE.” Cuz of the chocolate. Anyway, they could’ve made it playful and acknowledged the perception, the pre-existing belief. THEN used it as an opportunity to communicate how they’re still about good ingredients, blah blah blah.
…Instead, they militated against the pre-existing belief. Bad move.
Meet your customers where they are, not where you want them to be.