by John Wood

Bob Bly calls it “the most important book on copywriting to be published in this century”. Copywriting legend Joe Sugarman calls it “pure genius”.

They’re talking about the author, and master copywriter Dr. Joe Vitale’s book “Hypnotic Writing”.

So what exactly is “hypnotic writing” anyway?

Hypnotic writing involves putting your reader into a (perfectly legal and harmless) “waking trance” that gets them to focus on your message at the exclusion of virtually everything else. Similar to when you’re absorbed by a great movie or you lose yourself in a gripping book.

In his book, Joe defines it as “intentionally using words to guide people into a focused mental state where they are inclined to buy your product or service””

Hypnotic writing is copy that is so spell-binding, so unforgettable and so irresistible that your reader’s eyes are literally riveted to the page – compelling them to remember and act up on what they’ve just read.

And, of course, that’s a good thing for you. The more readers you can persuade to take action, the more money you’ll make.

Recently I re-read “Hypnotic Writing” as once just wasn’t enough. What follows are 11 tips that will help make your copy more hypnotic…

  1. Don’t tell your reader what you want them to hear, tell your reader what they want to hear– Focus on your prospect, not on your client’s company or product. I know, I know — you’ve heard it before, but it still warrants repeating. Why? Because they’re still tons of websites and countless sales letters that focus way too much on the product (and/or company) and way too little on their prospect. Remember people are self-centered – it’s not a criticism – it’s just the way we are. We’re interested in something that can help us achieve our goals and dreams. We want to know how we can avoid pain and experience pleasure. The following are three questions your prospects will be asking themselves as they read your letter: 1) Who cares? 2) So what? & 3) What’s in it for me? Before you write a word make sure you have the answers to those questions written down in front of you.
  2. Meet your prospect where they are mentally– Joe points out that legendary copywriter Robert Collier’s letters were so successful because he met his readers where their thoughts already were. Joe breaks the process down into three steps: 1. What do your prospects believe right now? (current trance) 2. Agree with their beliefs to merge with them (rapport) 3. Lead their beliefs into your offer (new trance)The example Joe uses in the book is about selling your prospect some pants. Research has shown you that your readers believe that “all pants are alike”.The first thing you would do is agree with their “pants trance”. You’d write something like “I thought all pants were alike too.” Doing this creates rapport with your reader. Then you go to step three. You lead them to a new trance. You say something like “Why are people saying these pants are different? Here’s why…” Do you see how that works? You meet them where they are, then take them where you want them to go.
  3. Create a sense of intimacy with your reader— People buy from people they like. Allow your personality to come through. When you create rapport with your prospect, sales happen. Instill a personalized tone to your writing…a sense of friendliness. Don’t be so uptight and rigid. Have fun. A great way to do this is to pretend you’re writing to one person. Are you ready for Joe’s Million Dollar Secret? Here it is: “Many great copywriters call a friend and tell them about the product or service they want to sell. They record the call. They then play it back, listening for the ways they describe what they are selling.”
  4. Find new ways to say ordinary things– The more you repeat your offer or reasons to buy the more you influence your reader’s unconscious mind. It doesn’t mean you repeat the same thing over and over and over again. You have to make an effort to find new ways to say ordinary things. For example, don’t say “You’ll have all the work you could ever ask for” say “You’ll have so much work your biggest worry will be how to turn down all the people who want to hire you without hurting their feelings.”Advertising man and author Kenneth Goode in his 1932 book “Advertising” wrote, “The greatest of all advertising tricks is that of persistently pounding away the same suggestions while still keeping the appearance of the freshness of idea”.
  5. Use active tense versus passive tense – Passive language is boring. Active language is hypnotic. For example, don’t write “The door was opened by Rodney,” (which is passive) write ‘Rodney kicked opened the door” (which is active).
  6. Get excited, get moved and you’ll move your reader – You have to have enthusiasm for what you’re selling. You have to believe in it. If you don’t, it will show in your copy. So get enthused and your reader will be too.
  7. Pretend someone has agreed to pay you $1,000 for every word you remove from your letter — You could have the greatest product in the world, but if you promote it using long words, long sentences, and long paragraphs — you’ll stop most readers dead in their tracks. Make sure you cut out any needless words, sentences, and so on.
  8. Tell your readers you’ll tell them something really important…later— Joe says he learned this trick from writer Jack London. London used to keep his readers hooked by not giving them an ending to something they wanted to see resolved. It works like this, tell your reader you’re about to say something important and then go to a new subject with the promise you’ll return to the original one in a few minutes. Here’s an example I came up with…“In a minute, I’ll tell you how you could win an all-expenses paid trip to Hollywood to meet Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black, but first I’d like to tell you about another reason why our screenplay software is so popular with aspiring writers…”
  9. Instead of telling your prospect something directly— tell them a story and let them draw their own conclusions – When your reader concludes something on their own it’s far more believable and acceptable to them. To illustrate this point, Joe tells a story about an author (whose name he can’t recall) who was doing a story about Ted Turner. The author and Turner were getting to know each other, riding around in one of Turner’s vehicles. I’ll let Joe take it from here…“At one point, Turner unexpectedly stopped his vehicle and, without saying a word, walked over to a soda can lying on the ground. He picked it up, threw it in the back of his vehicle, and continued driving. With that single anecdote, the author painted a picture of an environmentally friendly and conscientious man. Had he simply said those things about Turner, they’d have gone unnoticed. But by showing Turner in action, the author allowed me to make that conclusion on my own. And not only have I never forgotten it, but I’ve also never questioned it.”
  10. Engage your reader by asking them a question — It should be an opened ended question. For example, Joe titled the chapter where he talks about this “What Are My Secrets For Writing Hypnotic Selling Stories?” You can’t answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to it, but it makes you want to read the chapter.
  11. Anticipate Questions/Objections – As you write, ask yourself “what is my reader thinking right now?” Imagine you’re having a conversation with your reader and try to anticipate what questions they’re going to ask you next. Then, of course, answer them.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you write a letter and you’ll be that much closer to writing copy that makes it impossible for your reader to stop reading.

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Writer’s Blog. For a complimentary subscription to AWAI’s free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available, visit