The Dear Abby Principle Of Influence & Persuasion

By: Dan Kennedy on: April 19th, 2011 13 Comments

For 9 years, I spoke 20 to 27 times a year on those giant Success circuses. Each time I forcefully sold my programs, the $99 and the $278 packages. After speaking, I’d go to the floor, a crowd would cluster around me, and I would answer their questions.

Two of the most common were: “Do you think your stuff will work in my business?” and “Which package should I buy?”.

Logically, given that I am there clearly and obviously to sell, you’d expect my answers to be: yes. The $278.00 one. Wouldn’t you?

This is but one small demonstration of the way I’ve made and make all my money.

The Dear Abby Principle is: people want to be told what to do.

No, they do not want to think or figure things out for themselves. They lack confidence in their own decision-making ability, with some justification; they have no process for making good decisions, and they probably feel like they have a history of making bad ones.

They are intellectually and physically lazy. They are overwhelmed and paralyzed by the massively multiplying variety of choices.

But, mostly, fundamentally, at core, they lack self-esteem and self-confidence. And prefer abdicating rather than accepting responsibility.

One of the most successful internet businesses is e-harmony.com. Why?

Because it uses an authoritative test, then tells you who you should date. It thinks for you. It does not ask you to think.

Because people want to be told what to do, there’s a lot of money to be made telling them what to do. Because people prefer abdicating to accepting responsibility, there is a great deal of power to be had by lifting responsibility from them.

The applications are varied yet universal. The pet shop that puts aquarium, filter, gravel, castles and decorations, and five fish together as a “starter package” rather than letting the new hobbyist pick each item out for himself is telling the customer what to do.

The money manager who tells his client to hand over his money, stop worrying about the market, cancel his Wall Street Journal subscription, and relax, is selling just like the pet shop is.

The freelance copywriter who accepts assignments from clients can never make even a small fraction of what I make by telling the clients what the assignments given to me ought to be.

And I have just handed you a very, very, very big secret.

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    About The Author: Dan Kennedy
    Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.GKIC.com

    13 Responses

    1. Donna Kopf says:

      Secret accepted and will be put to good use. Thanks, Dan!

    2. It’s sure a tactic (and principle) that I don’t use enough in my own business.
      Thanks for the secret, Dan!

    3. Kerry says:

      Thanks Dan,

      Can you elaborate on : “The freelance copywriter who accepts assignments from clients can never make even a small fraction of what I make by telling the clients what the assignments given to me ought to be.”

      I’d love to hear more about your copy sales process.

      Kerry

    4. Yung Li says:

      Secret is simple, yet so powerful. I would never have thought using this technics. I will tell my customers what to order from now on.

    5. Jeremy Reeves says:

      The last sentence of that post is SO insanely powerful for copywriters, that most people will blow right by it without figuring out what it can mean to them.

      And that’s why most writers can’t figure out how to make money ;)

      Jeremy Reeves
      http://www.JeremyReeves.com

    6. Scott Martin says:

      Great post as always. In copywriting, the CTA is a must but the next step is the package or the car you must have.

      I can keep a secret but it’s the people I tell who fail so miserably.

    7. Scott Martin says:

      “The freelance copywriter who accepts assignments from clients can never make even a small fraction of what I make by telling the clients what the assignments given to me ought to be.”

      Dan–could you expand on this? Or point me toward a section in a book? I’ve got most of your books. I’m an ambitious copywriter.

    8. QuteCare says:

      Just love Dan, he always says it like it is. No B.S., period.

    9. Tim says:

      @Scott Martin:
      Interesting that you ask Dan to point you to the place in the book where he elaborates on that. Great that you have most of his books – but the purpose of these books isn’t *owning* them. It’s reading and studying them. Maybe that’s what you should invest your ambitiousness in.
      And I’m sure I got it all wrong and you have read and studied the books, so you don’t really need to think about what I wrote here and keep doing things the way you always did.

      Kind regards,
      The guy who obviously is full of it

    10. Michael Weiss says:

      “The freelance copywriter who accepts assignments from clients can never make even a small fraction of what I make by telling the clients what the assignments given to me ought to be.”

      In what ways can I learn:

      to know what the assignments out to be and,
      how to do that?

      Thanks Dan

    11. Scott Martin says:

      Tim…I’ve got the books and have read them. I’d like someone to say, it’s on page XX in chapter XX of this book.

      Thanks,

      Scott Martin

    12. Kerry says:

      I’m with Scott on this one, but I don’t have most of his books… just a couple… so I want to know which book this is in so I can buy it!

    13. matt haines says:

      Hey Dan. I was going to comment with a joke, something along the lines of “can you tell me what I should do with your secret?” (I.e. can you make me a ‘starter package’ of info on how to make ‘starter packages’ for other people). But, sadly, I see several people have asked this question in earnest. That makes the joke much less funny.

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