How To Apply Sally Hogshead’s ‘Fascinations’ To Your Marketing Message

Author Sally Hogshead outlines seven “Fascination triggers” or persuasion strategies in her book, Fascinate. The idea behind the Fascinations is to understand how we humans are wired psychologically: what drives us to take action?

What causes us to pay attention to a message — and what makes a message compelling enough that we will spend money to buy a product or service?

The fascinations that Sally emphasizes provide useful framework for creating a marketing message. You can consider your message and how it speaks to each fascination, or consider your audience: which fascination triggers them the most?

By understanding the attraction behind each trigger, you can more precisely explain and predict why otherwise meaningless things can become intensely desirable.

You can also utilize these to make your marketing much more dynamic. D

Sally Hogshead’s Seven Fascination Triggers

MYSTIQUE — Why we’re intrigued by unanswered questions. Adding mystique to your message adds curiosity, which we humans can’t resist.

LUST — Why we’re seduced by the anticipation of pleasure. Adding lust by speaking to pleasures brings warmth and humanity to your message.

ALARM — Why we take action at the threat of negative consequences. Adding alarm gives adventure, immediacy and danger. In other words, it spices things up.

POWER — Why we focus on people and things that control us. Adding the appeal of power or control can be alluring, and can inspire respect or fear.

VICE — Why we’re tempted by novelty and “forbidden fruit”. This can tie in with lust as well, adding the appeal of forbidden or hidden desires.

PRESTIGE — Why we admire or aspire to have rank and respect. Appealing to this in your message adds strength/courage/pride/esteem (?)

TRUST — Why we’re loyal to reliable options. Adding trust speaks to some of our most fundamental concerns and builds rapport, stability and comfort.

As an example, let’s play with the fascination Sally calls “Mystique.”

How To Apply More Mystique In Your Marketing
It doesn’t require adding anything new or changing your product or service to begin using fascinations. Rather, you need to shift from speaking about what you have to offer(the features of your product or service) and instead consider how you’d describe it if you’re talking with one of the fascinations in mind.

So, for example, how would you enhance your marketing with the fascination “mystique”?

There’s several strategies you could use. Even applying one or two of these strategies can elevate your audience’s curiosity, and draw them closer to learn more.

Strategies to Add Mystique To Your Marketing

1. Withhold Information.

2. Spark Curiosity.

3. Raise the Reward.

4. Build Mythology.

5. Limit Access.

6. Stories, Not Facts.

7. Ask Questions (rather than giving answers).

Let’s say you are a corporate motivational speaker and you want to be hired by companies to present half-day and full day workshops. Now, we’ll apply several strategies I just mentioned to create different marketing messages:

1. Withhold Information: As a speaker, you could offer a list of topics or titles for your different workshop presentations, with several bullet points to explain further. Then hint at the “secret sauce” formula that you reveal at the end of your presentation that keeps people coming back to hire you repeatedly. Even better, include several testimonials from past participants that speak to the unexpected value they received from attending your event because of your “secret sauce formula”.

2. Spark Curiosity: Like having a “secret sauce formula””, you can build your presentations around an exclusive method, technique or unique strategy that you’ve developed that helps companies achieve the results they’re looking for. Perhaps it’s the “6-Step Employee Engagement Blueprint”, or the “Master Management Method” or something like that.

3. Raise the Reward: Can you go above and beyond to add more value to a company that hires you by including a bonus, a free offer, a complimentary follow-up consultation package, etc?

4. Build Mythology: What’s behind your philosophies and your success? How have you become the expert authority a company is hiring now for their next event? The story around you or your content holds the power to engage and create intrigue. Think of Lady Gaga, or Tom Cruise with Scientology or Michael Jackson. There’s always going to be an air of mystery behind them and what makes them tick. The mythology is attractive to our curious human minds

5. Limit Access: Perhaps you decide to plan only 3 workshops this quarter. When you speak with a company considering hiring you, mention that your other slots are taken, so it’s key that they schedule you now before you’re fully booked.

6. Stories, not facts: A prospect will be easily bored by the facts of your resume, your professional experience, your educational background. These are lifeless facts that many other great speakers have listed in their qualifications. What sets you apart is the story behind them. HOW did you decide to become a law student and then break into public speaking? What life event rocked you so much that you knew you wanted to be on stage, captivating audiences? It’s the story that engages and makes the sale.

7. Ask Questions: Become curious in your prospect. When you have them in conversation, ask about their values, their goals, who they’ve enjoyed as a speaker in the past, what they want to avoid, etc. Being curious about them helps YOU to become better at selling to them. Hold your tongue on talking about yourself until they ask.

I hope these examples of how to apply Sally Hogsheads’ Fascination of “MYSTIQUE” to the marketing message of a corporate motivational speaker gave you some ideas for your own marketing.

By starting with a few example products/offers as practice, you’ll begin to get a feel for how to naturally work the appeals of fascinations into your own messaging.

What 4 Questions Can You Answer To Write Your Website Copy?

When I work with clients, often they come to me with a request to build a new website, revamp their old marketing materials or help design an online program…something like that. While that is the end product they’re looking for, before we can get to that point, we have to zoom out to first look at the strategy and messaging behind it.

Why is it so vital to develop your messaging BEFORE you figure out the design, development, and elements of your end product?

Because the mistake often made is trying to sell what you do or have…NOT what your customers or clients WANT.

What do they WANT? Why would they be looking for a solution in the first place that would help them start looking for you? What other options do they have if they don’t use your solution?

These questions inform the approach of your messaging and your entire sales funnel.

Answering these questions clarifies things like:

  • what headline to use on your homepage
  • if you need an email funnel, and what you’d say in it if you do
  • if you need to compliment your product or service with additional offerings, like backend support or an online course or a monthly mastermind
  • how to serve your clients better
  • how to reach more of your ideal customers…and connect with them more deeply

Marketing isn’t about slapping on a great logo and a gorgeous, sleek website to your brand.

Marketing is about building a relationship.

If you pick up books on relationship building, starting a conversation, how to build a friendship…all of these books are MARKETING books.

On your website, in your sales calls, in your follow up emails…you must understand what your prospect wants, not tell them what you do.

So here are some key questions to consider asking before you dive into developing your new website, brochures or training your sales team:

1. If you take your top 20% of customers, how would THEY describe what you do or sell?

2. Who is your best referral source? Why do they refer you? What do they say about you that compels people to seek you out?

3. After someone purchases and uses your product or service, what do they get out of it? Does something physically change in their environment? Do they shift emotionally? Does their status change? Do they feel better about themselves?

THAT’s what you’re selling. This end result.

4. Finally, if you zoom out 5 years from now, what advice would you give yourself NOW about your messaging and how to improve it to reach your goals?

These questions generally are much, much easier to answer by talking it out with your team, your existing clients, your colleagues or partner. It’s hard to answer these based on your opinion or assumption of the answer, because it’s like looking out from your own fishbowl. By answering these with someone who has another perspective, you’ll be able to dial into the core of your messaging with more certainty.

Once you dial in your messaging by knowing the results you’re offering to people, then you can determine how to layout your website, structure your information and guide your design.

3 insights from Gregory Berns’ “Iconoclast” to improve your marketing


In his book, Iconoclast, Gregory Berns outlines three mental barriers that stop most people from achieving the type of success that shapes culture and influences the masses.

Most of us get stopped by: flawed perception (i.e. we have a view about something and won’t change it)

  • flawed perception (i.e. we have a view about something and won’t change it)fear of failure (i.e. fear of looking bad to others, fear of being wrong, fear of losing everything)
  • fear of failure (i.e. fear of looking bad to others, fear of being wrong, fear of losing everything)the inability to persuade others (i.e. if we can’t inspire others with our vision, we can’t be a leader)
  • the inability to persuade others (i.e. if we can’t inspire others with our vision, we can’t be a leader)

The iconoclast’s mind has a different response to these three barriers than the majority of people.

Rather than hitting a wall, an iconoclast’s brain is wired so that he or she is able to overcome these challenges. While many people might procrastinate or get stopped by fear, for example, an iconoclast will recognize the opportunity for growth and plough ahead.

Gregory studied two “types” of iconoclasts: the ones that seemed to be born that way and others that learned how transform their thinking and become iconoclasts later in life. His conclusions were that iconoclastic thinking is a skill set that can be developed with awareness and practice.

The reason it’s often hard to change our thinking as we grow into adults is that our brains are designed for efficiency. When we have an experience and make associations about it, a certain pattern of neurons fires in our brain. As we have more experiences, our brains categorize them so that we can save energy.

On one hand, this is awesome for evolution. When we repeat experiences, we can lean on our memory to guide us.The less we have to make decisions about an experience (or a person, situation, etc.), the more energy we save for other things.

The flipside to this is that the more experienced we become, the more we lean on past experiences…and the less conscious we are of our thinking. We’re less likely to notice details. We tune out and shift to unconscious thinking as we develop a habit.

Most of what iconoclasts do differently from other people lies in how they categorize what they see.

Whether one person sees ugliness or beauty is entirely a result of categorization. 

As adults with decades of experiences categorized and locked into place in our brains, it’s much harder to change our perceptions, shape our habitual responses to fear and learn new ways to connect with others.

The key to seeing more like an iconoclast is to look at things that you have never seen before, and challenge yourself to see the same things in new ways.

With awareness and practice, you can challenge your habitual ways of thinking. You can start to see opportunities where others can’t.

  • You can learn to look at things from different perspectives
  • You can use fear as an indicator that you’re hedging into new territory…and be inspired that it’s a sign of progress and growth
  • You can improve your communication skills and emotional intelligence to connect more deeply with others

Though Gregory’s book may be marked as a book for personal development, I also think it’s a valuable resource for someone wanting to improve their company’s marketing.

After all, what’s at the crux of marketing?

The purpose of marketing is to attract attention and create interest in a product, service or offering.

Some may be naturally good at marketing, but it’s a skill that can be developed with practice.

How can you use Gregory’s insights about iconoclasts to become a better marketer?

1. Challenge yourself to look at what you’re offering from different angles so you can position it as a solution to your customer’s problem as well as stand out from competitors.

  • What result or outcome does your customer want from using your product, service or offering?
  • How desperate is your customer to get that result or outcome? Are they mildly interested or do they need a solution quickly?
  • What other options does your customer have besides what you’re offering?

2. List the things you’re worried about happening if they buy your offer and don’t have a good experience. Then, pick out the top one or two things that worry you the most.

  • If the absolute worst case scenario happened, how would you deal with it? What would be your very first step? Who would you reach out to? How quickly could you manage the situation?
  • Outline an action plan for handling the “worst case scenario”. Simply having a plan can often relieve a LOT of fear that’s holding you back.

3. Learn more about your customer, even if you think you know them already.

  • Go somewhere new where your target customer would go.
  • Read a book you know they’d be interested in.
  • Ask existing customers about their experience and what they value about your product, service or offer.

Is it better to buy a PR media list or take time to develop your own?

content marketing optimization


So, you’d buy a PR media list to reach an audience with your marketing, correct?

And you’re probably considering doing that because it’s faster than investing the time and resources in developing your own list.

I get it. That’s valid…but it’s similar to driving down the road with the car window down and letting your hundred dollar bills go flying out into the wind.

To answer this question, it helps to think of marketing like dating.

If you are a total stranger and suddenly walked up to me as I was in the middle of my business (e.g. walking on the street, having dinner, chatting with friends, reading a book in a cafe, checking my mail and messages…whatever), what’s my reaction going to be if you suddenly start telling me about your latest widget and introducing your offer to me?

I’m likely going to be put off, annoyed and move away from you as quickly as I can.

Now, if you wanted to attract my attention to tell me about your latest widget and introduce me to your offer so that I am not annoyed…

You need to invest time in getting to know me.

For instance, what do I like to do in my spare time? Where do I go to hang out? What do I love about my work? What are my values? How do I like to spend my extra income?

When you figure these things out, then you can position whatever you’re trying to sell me as a way that I can have more of the stuff that I enjoy (or get away from the things I don’t enjoy).

Then when you approach me and you’re talking about something I can relate to, my ears perk up. I might give you a second of my attention.

Now, let’s tie that back to buying a PR media list.

Consider the amount of money you’d invest in purchasing that list, mailing (ahem, spamming) them, getting 0.01% response rate MAYBE, mailing again and getting no useful responses.

Verses investing your time in researching the type of person you are trying to reach in the first place and learn about them.what do they like to do in their spare time? Where do they go to hang out? What do they love about their work? What are their values? How do they spend their extra income?

For instance, what do they like to do in their spare time? Where do they go to hang out? What do they love about their work? What are their values? How do they spend their extra income?

When you have gathered your research, then you can invest your money into being placed in publications/websites/locations where these people hang out. Or get interviewed by someone these people would respect and listen to. Or start a podcast or YouTube channel offering advice, tutorials and information about the things they’re interested in…and tie it back to your widget.

This way, you’re building a list of people that are interested, engaged and appreciate hearing from you. Takes longer but actually is a MUCH better investment of your time and money. Once you have that list of people, you have a very valuable asset for your company.

What do the most successful landing pages have in common?

landing page optimization

When you’re presenting something new to someone that’s never met you, the objective is to be interesting enough that they become curious and want to know more.

When you’re doing this online, you have about 1–3 seconds to do this—-and you’re competing with the other tabs they have open on their browser, the text messages pinging them in the background, the environment around them and a dozen or so other distractions.

So you gotta be clear, direct and interesting out of the gate. How do you do that?

You showcase what it is and who/what it’s for—-and you put it in their terms. What’s in it for them? Why should they care?

If you can dial down the answer to that and communicate that immediately, you’re on your way to engaging them for at least another second or so.




You can do this with a great headline/subheadline, or an illustration, or a video or a combo of any of those.

It’s not about giving them tons of information and explanation about your business and offerings—-it’s about distilling down how your offerings are going to help them get what they want.

It can be just as compelling, if not more so, to present why or how your offerings can help them avoid what they DON’T want.

A great first test to optimize your landing page for conversions would be to try 2 variations of your page using toward-motivation (what do they want) verses away-from motivation (what they don’t want).

3 key questions to optimize a website home page or a landing page:

  1. What am I offering?
    HINT: think in terms of results. What result is someone going to get if they use your product or service?
  2. Who is it for?
  3. What do they want? What do they want to avoid?

Next, write out the results you’re offering in terms of your target audience. What’s in it for them (or why should they care)?

Then split test your messaging explaining those 2 things in a “move-towards” motivation message and then a “move-away-from” motivation message.

“How would you view Facebook or Instagram as an effective marketing tool?”

The answer to this question would depend on the audience you are trying to reach.

For example:

Are you trying to reach 20-somethings that are shopping for the latest trendy handbags online?

Are you trying to reach moms that want to find the latest recipes for 30-min or less Paleo meals for their family?

Are you trying to reach executives looking for a better scheduling app for their sales appointments?

Depending on who you want to reach and what you’re offering, Instagram or Facebook may be a useful tool…or a complete waste of your time.

Once you know who you’re trying to reach and where they hang out or view content online, the next step is to outline a strategy. What time of day or week are they most likely to be on that platform viewing content? Are they in a content-consuming mood when they’re on that platform, or checked out late at night simply socializing?

Start first with your target customer in mind and then work backwards to answer how one would view Facebook or Instagram as a marketing tool.

Is raising your prices a good marketing strategy?

Unless you have a commodity product, pricing is mostly a psychological game. Are you trying to compete in your market as the low-price leader (like Walmart, for example)? Or are you trying to compete as an affluent brand (like Hermès handbags, for example)?

If you raise your prices, the perception is that the value has increased. It’s worth more.

So, how can you validate to your customers that your product is worth the increase in price? Is it by positioning yourself against a competitor? Or by offering an added benefit, like free shipping or a bonus deal? Or perhaps because you began using a new high-quality material to increase the lifetime of the product?

If you’re starting in a market, it’s important to consider the perception you want to create and set your price accordingly.

If you’re already in a market, raising your prices seemingly without a reason can break trust with your customers and therefore impact sales. But if you position the price increase as added value for your customer, then you’re much more likely to have success with it.

Check out this fun infographic from for online retailers:


Approach Your Customer Like a First Date (If You Want to Score)

Dating and marketing…how similar they are. Would you walk right up to a cute stranger and ask them to go out with you immediately? You might, but your chances of scoring are likely low (and if you did score, your prospect may be questionable anyway…).

Similarly, why would you ask for a sale immediately when someone first encounters your product, service, website, sign, etc?

For someone to make a decision to engage with you—on a date or in your business—they must feel they can trust you. There needs to be rapport.

In this video, I share how to think about approaching your prospect so that your chances of scoring are significantly higher as you build a relationship with them.

Thanks for watching!

8 Ways Digital Marketing Is Like Dating

Humans first build friendships and intimate relationships in a predictable sequence of steps. The steps build trust.

With your customer, these steps encourage buying.

These days we can create automated sequences of communications targeted to specific groups to create this sequence. People want to feel like they are being treated like an individual—not one of the herd.

You must find customers where they are, not where you want them to be.

Great marketing is done by people who “get out of the way” to understand what their customers are experiencing, feeling and thinking – by talking to customers directly and asking direct questions.

We get self-centered and think of ourselves in marketing rather than thinking of our customer. Like when going on stage, and clamming up thinking about yourself and your ego getting in the way.

In many ways, this is JUST LIKE DATING.

If you approach your marketing like you would approach landing a hot date…you’ll be on the right track. It’s all about figuring out how to get that one ideal prospect to take an interest in you, and then continuing to engage them from there.

Here are 8 ways digital marketing is like dating:

1. The first step is to determine who you’re looking for.

Narrow your focus. Your marketing as well as your dating will be significantly more successful if you have an idea of the person you’re looking for. Who’s your ideal date—or your ideal customer? Why are you trying to attract them?

2. Next, you need to get to know the person you’re trying to attract.

What does this person value? Think in terms of the individual, not a group. What does this one ideal date (or ideal customer) daydream about? What does this person want to avoid? What keeps them up at night? How do they like to spend their free time? Where do they hang out, online and offline? What gets them fired up, both negatively and positively?

3. Then, you must figure out what challenge or problem this person trying to solve.

If they aren’t looking, then why are you trying to attract them? Look for people (i.e. customers) that are looking for YOU.

4. Now, you need to know what other options they have.

Who else out there is offering a solution to the challenge or problem this person has? How are you the same? What makes you different?

5. Then the art and the science begins: how are you going to communicate to this person that you can produce or offer what they are looking for?

Review what this person values and consider the outcome they want (either from a date or from purchasing your product or service).

What’s the physical result they want (from a date or from the product or service)?

What’s the emotional result?

What’s the mental result?

How can you signal to them that you can meet those expectations (or even exceed them)?

6. Get specific.

Generalizations attract no one. You want to be specific and direct about how engaging with you is going to deliver the specific benefits this person is after…AND help them avoid what they don’t want. You want to communicate it with grace and integrity; aim to be direct without being pushy.

7. Make them feel special and exclusive.

No one wants to think they’re just another date among 5 others in the same week…and, likewise, no customer wants to feel like they’re one of the herd. People want to feel like they are being treated like an individual.

8. Meet them where they’re at, not where you want them to be.

This is a biggie, folks. If someone’s not ready to date, or not ready to go home with you afterward…respect that. Get to know them better. Build a relationship with them over time.

Same with sales and marketing: most objections are actually created by the person trying to sell because they’re trying to persuade someone to buy too early. You have to build trust first—in dating or in marketing.

Watch this on the Tech Diva YouTube Channel

Copy Chief Interview with Kevin Rogers on The Truth About Marketing Podcast: High Converting Landing Pages

In this episode with Kevin Rogers on The Truth About Marketing Podcast, we cover a ton including:

  • My work process for building websites that sell millions
  • Favorite books and blogs
  • The most valuable real estate on every website
  • How I combined an art degree with my love of data
  • Common website mistakes that every business needs to avoid
  • Why certain contestants always get slaughtered on Shark Tank
  • … and much more

5 “Can’t Miss” Moments

5:20 – “No more one night stands!” Chelsea explains why fewer and fewer copywriters are willing to be hired guns (And why this is great news for businesses that bleed money)

7:25 – What the conversion experts know that you don’t (Plus, the secret science of building websites that attract raving customers over and over again)

11:30 – “Nothing will cost you more money than polite feedback.” Chelsea reveals why being nice is a death wish when it comes to marketing

15:30 – How to find your biggest customers and build a website that makes them jump for their wallet

20:30 – The #1 thing every business owner needs to know about customer acquisition (or else you’ll blow a fortune on pointless Facebook ads)

What’s the one thing I’ve done that’s produced the most surprising result?

My answer is a surprise two-parter. I also explain how my strategy keeps getting new clients, why everybody is secretly a voyeur, and how marketers should use this to their advantage.

Check out my answer at 24:15.

Listen to the podcast here on The Truth About Marketing blog at