The Underground Persuasion Lab
Trust No One.
If you’ve ever run an online business, you’ve probably encountered something I call the Persuasion Industrial Complex.
This is a group of writers, consultants, gurus, and other colorful figures who claim to have discovered the secrets of human mind control.
They come in many flavors.
One day, it is cutting-edge neuroscience. “We have discovered these 17 cognitive biases in our lab.”
The next, it is hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, or wisdom from the ancients: “One weird persuasion hack from Pliny the Elder”
Next week, it’s a new AI algorithm that sucks dollars directly from your wallet!
Naturally, these secrets can be revealed … for a price.
The kimono will be opened in the new book, course, or (if you’re a big spender) at the Double Secret Platinum Mastermind™ event coming soon to a conference room near you.
Now, if this sounds like the start of a cynical takedown, I can assure you it is not.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Since 2007, I have been building online businesses.
I own multiple six-figure companies in several different niches. Everything from selling services to parts for mechanical keyboards (those clicky ones beloved by gamers).
I’ve sold many millions of dollars of goods and services online. But I was always fascinated with how to make my ads and websites more effective.
I know firsthand that some of this stuff works great. I’ve seen in my own business that one piece of content can radically outperform another with a few simple tweaks.
How Changing ONE Word 7 Years Ago Earns Me An Extra $21k Per Year
In 2013, I launched an online store.
It sells equipment for live interpretation (you know, those little headsets that let you listen to an event in another language).
There were two terms I could have used to describe the product: “interpretation equipment” or “translation equipment.”
The first is the technically correct term.
This is because “interpretation” means live speech from one language to another while “translation” refers to written words.
I was about to hit publish with the ‘correct’ version of the word when my spidey sense started tingling…
I fired up the Google keyword tool and found out that the “wrong” word got more than 3x the searches as the correct one!
So I quickly re-wrote my content using the more popular but technically incorrect word. I estimate that this single word change has made me more than $100k, over the years.
Yes, some of these little hacks can be diabolically effective.
The problem is, I don’t know which ones.
So – if you’re like me – you keep reading.
Maybe you sign up for a list or join a Facebook group. Inside, you find suggestions for more persuasion books.
Those books cite other books. You open up Amazon, and pretty soon your bookshelf looks like this: Welcome to the persuasion rabbit hole.
Here’s how I think about this:
Have you ever seen someone struggle to lose weight?
One year they’re doing Atkins. Next, it’s muscle-confusing P-90x. Then “keto.” The cycle goes on and on.
The secret is that there’s no secret.
Instead of getting more information, reading the next book, etc the answer is to relentlessly focus on the basics of diet and exercise.
So what is the “diet and exercise” of persuasion?
In a word: testing.
It’s the only way to really know which appeals work, for which product, and for what audience.
Introducing my 2020 writing project:
Let’s Test A Bunch of Persuasion Advice And See What Works
I’m calling this little project the Underground Persuasion Lab.
What does this mean?
It is simply this: Tests or GTFO.
Sort of a Mythbusters for human persuasion.
Each week, I will spend my own money to A/B test at least one piece of persuasion wisdom.
Right now, I have a list of about 30 pieces of ‘guru gold’ that I want to test.
I will come up with the quickest and dirtiest of tests for each one, run it, and then post all numbers for you to read.
I can think of a few potential problems off the bat:
- Will every test be statistically significant? Probably not. I’m not made of money and won’t be able to buy enough traffic to get a fully valid result for each one. (This is the underground persuasion lab after all) The goal is to move from a mindset of “This book says X” to “Hmm, this book says X. How quickly can I test it?”
- Will there be unique snowflake factors about each market, product, or other stuff that might confuse the results? You bet. I will be transparent about this in my write-ups.
Even with these issues, the real question to ask yourself is: which is more likely to be profitable to you?
Blindly following advice from the human centipede of persuasion gurus?
…or learning the skill of rapid testing, so you can find exactly what works and what doesn’t in your market.
If you would like to go down the testing rabbit hole with me, here is what to do next:
Get My Test Results Emails
The Full List Of Persuasion Hacks
If you’d like to hear more about this project, just drop your email into the box below.
Once you sign up I will send you my full list of persuasion hacks that I am testing.
You will be able to add suggestions and will get my weekly testing emails (3-5 per week).
Right now, this is all 100% free.
But, full disclosure, I am not ruling out turning this into some type of paid offer in the future.
This could be anything from a book to an intimate group of dangerous testing assassins.
Finally, do you want help running tests on your own business?
This can be either for the write-ups to this list or privately.
If you have a business with an email list above 500 names, or if you regularly run online ads, I would love to talk (…just hit reply when you get your first email).
That’s all I got for today.
Sign up below for all that testing goodness.