Be a Creator of Beauty (My Life in Advertising: Chapters 14 and 15)

I really like buying things. Things I don’t need, things I do need, things I think I’ll need later. A delayed delivery doesn’t stop this — Kickstarter hasn’t been my wallet’s best friend.

Mind the Gap. It's used to pique your interest and direct your behaviour. Image "Mind the Gap" by Larry Johnson, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Mind the Gap. It’s used to pique your interest and direct your behaviour. Image “Mind the Gap” by Larry Johnson, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

We’re all victims of this psychological hook that advertisers use: they create a “gap” in your life. The gap could be the beginning of a story, leaving us hanging. The gap could be a heightened interest in a limited offer. Whatever the method, the gap causes tension. Filling that gap – also known as finding closure – makes us feel better because our brains deliver a dopamine hit as the tension is relieved.

Marketers can use this technique to interest buyers. When potential customers feel the gap and the need to fill it, marketers can direct their behaviour towards a purchase to help fill that gap.

This is the 13th part in a series about Persuasion Reading List’s current selection, Claude C Hopkins’ My Life in Advertising. Please join our mailing list, and thanks for reading PRL!

Chapter Fourteen: Pepsodent Tooth Paste. Hopkins knows that people aren’t comfortable with a perceived gap in their lives. People will work harder to fill a gap than they work to protect what they already have.

 Hopkins uses this to his advantage and markets Pepsodent as a creator of beauty, rather than a protector. Any toothepaste can protect. Pepsodent creates something that you’re lacking.

Pepsodent is marketed as a beauty creator. Image by Don O'Brien, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Pepsodent is marketed as a beauty creator. Image by Don O’Brien, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Using his all-important coupon strategy to test the market and track results, Hopkins learns that ‘Free’ isn’t a good association for a health product. He also discovers that showing unattractive teeth isn’t a good selling point. People are drawn to beautiful images.

Hopkins tells us that every scenarios is unique. We must feel our way through each situation to find the best way to get results in that field.

Chapter fifteen, Mail Order advertising. Hopkins warns against spending ad money on fancy borders or larger type. Ads are meant to sell, not impress.

Hopkins reminds us that generic claims are easily dismissed, such as “The Lowest Price” or “World’s Greatest.” Anyone can state this opinion. It’s not persuasive in advertising (but this is persuasive in conversation because people can’t turn the page ­— what’s in their brains becomes important! This is known as the focusing illusion.)

Instead of generic claims, use exact figures to sell. If you can put in print what’s so great, specifics such as “3% Profit” and information that shows you care for your customers, you get interested readers. Interested readers become interested buyers.

Mind the Gap by Adam B, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
When you’re shopping don’t forget to Mind the Gap! Photo by Adam B, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

I’ve purchased things I don’t need. The discounted wool peacoat that was too big. Spending extra money online to get free shipping. The book of cool Swedish artwork that I’m afraid my kids will destroy, so it sits high on the shelf. We all have.

More often than not, however, I’ve felt good about the purchase.

What are some of your purchased dopamine hits? Let us know in a comment below!

P.S. If you’re looking for gift ideas this holiday season, check out the Persuasion Reading List for some ideas!