“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” – Francis Bacon, Born Jan. 21, 1561.
You'll see me waffle on whether what sales copywriters and ad men do is “art” or not. But whether it is or isn't – that's irrelevant to whether the methods of CREATING art are useful to us or not.
Because they absolutely are. You know that. Creativity is creativity and we have to come up with new ideas all the time. But creativity is nothing if it doesn't produce something INTERESTING.
And like Bacon says, creating a sense of mystery and awe are very useful to getting people to feel a desire and curiosity to learn more from you – to follow you deeper down the rabbit hole. Or fox hole. Or ferret hole. Whatever kind of hole you sell access to.
“But Reverend! How do we create mystery? I thought we were supposed to teach and inform people!”
Well, yeah. Do that too. Look, it's not complicated. Three steps is all.
1. Tell them something they already know. This proves that YOU know what you're talking about. They can verify it against their own knowledge and experience. This creates a basis for trust to develop.
2. Tell them something they know that just isn't so. As you compare and explore your shared knowledge, you point out something they accepted but that you can counter. Something that you can reverse.
This creates self-doubt. Obviously you know your stuff. They *thought* they did. But now there is a hole. They can't trust their own wisdom when your challenge makes sense.
You've started off by leading them somewhere familiar and comfortable. But now this mystery you've introduced has made it suddenly risky – even dangerous.
3. NOW we can tell them something they didn't know. Replace the incorrect, flawed kernel of information they had. Fix it. Make it better. Make it more valuable.
And this counter-intuitive, unique new perspective feels like just a taste of something BEYOND. You've put a crack into their world. A grey world they thought they had mastered. But now the light of a brand new world is shining through that crack.
They want to explore it. What was old is exciting again. Who can lead them? Who can introduce and reveal these new mysteries? Who can prepare them for these unknown challenges?
Gosh, who? Who can they turn to? If only they knew someone who bridges that gap between what they knew and have yet to know…
Who? Me? You? Would you? Could you?
<!—- lagniappe Here are a few additional quick ways you can use mysteries of this time to get people hooked into YOUR way of looking at the world. 1. In content, use this method to pull apart the old cliched tropes and chestnuts in your field. Things that are outdated and stale, but people just still believe because that’s how it used to be. What’s the NEW thing to replace the old? 2. In offers, introduce confusion about the contradictions and inconsistencies offered as solutions by competitors and alternatives. What questions do they leave unanswered? What gaps do they leave unclosed? 3. In promotions for your content - blogs, lists, communities, etc. - tease tantalizing secrets and shortcuts that solve the big open questions that people get stuck researching to death. Promise final answers. Offer clarity. 4. In products, it can feel weird using mystery. Because like the post said, you’re supposed to give answers. Solve problems. And you should and you will. But use mystery by setting up the problem as a story, and showing how it leads to uncertainty or wrong answers or dead ends... EXCEPT when they use the “ah ha” clues you have handily provided. Savvy? —->