“The questions don't do the damage. Only the answers do.” – Sam Donaldson, Born Mar. 11, 1934.
In Sam's field of journalism, that can be true. A probing question that gets an answer from a prominent figure is often revealing in a way the answerer may not have meant.
And often, it can be damaging depending on what is revealed.
That's not the reporter's fault for asking. It's the fault of the person who hid the truth or misled or lied or whatever.
But we aren't journalists. We WANT to question our readers in such a way that they reveal answers that leave them in a compromising position.
We want them uncomfortable. Exposed. Fearful. Grasping…
Why do you have the life that you do?
Why is it disappointing?
What are you lacking?
What do you hate about yourself?
What are your regrets?
They don't have to actually tell us. But good persuasive writing will excavate those answers and bring them to the front of the reader's mind. We make them admit uncomfortable truths to themselves. We make them face harsh realities and confront problems they've ignored too long.
We leave them weakened, damaged, suffering, and fearful…
And that's great. For us.
Because as marketers we can then throw them the life preserver once they're compromised. For a small fee, of course. We're the fixer on the scene to smooth it over and make it better.
Once they're desperate and struggling and literally grasping for a lifeline…
It's really easy to sell them your solution for whatever their problem is. Patch the damage they just admitted. Seal the leak. Cover up the mistake. Correct the flaws.
It's not public. It's between you and them. A secret. No one else ever has to know. Because you'll fix it with them, together.
“Click here to buy now…”