I gave him an 11th finger

1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… … er… 8… 9… 10… 11?”

A few years ago I learned hypnosis.

I know I’ve told you this many times…

(You’re wondering why you don’t remember, aren’t you? Muahahahahahahahahaha!)

OK, fine. I’ve never told you. But I did learn it.

Like copywriting, performing on stage, and neutering a hornet, I thought hypnosis would be a killer meta-skill that would come in useful, no matter what career I ended up in. So when a stage hypnotist friend of mine offered me a place on his course to bump up the numbers, I thought “what the hell…”.

I guess I was imagining Derren Brown-like manipulation or Demon Headmaster-like power.

Neither of those things happened, partly because of my sound moral compass, but mostly because, like the tool I am, I never really practiced it after the course.

Still, I’ll always have the memory of making MJ forget the number 7.

How that happened is a little weird, and there’s a marketing lesson hidden in there too, so let me tell you about it…

The “forget the number 7” routine is a staple of stage hypnosis.

It’s good to watch another human count aloud on their fingers, wondering why they now have 11.

I was looking forward to doing the same, but the first time I tried it on MJ, I failed miserably.

None of us could work out why.

He was “under” (the chloroform-soaked rag had seen to that), and the suggestibility tests had gone well.

The number thing though? I just couldn’t get it.

“When you open your eyes, you’ll not be able to remember the number 7… the number seven will have vanished from your mind… you’ll have no memory it even existed… one, two, three… eyes open… You good? Awesome. Do me a favour, count to ten…”

“1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10…”


“…annnnd sleep.”

I tried it again and got the same result – still ten fingers.

I brought MJ out of the trance and we had a chat about why this didn’t work.

Turns out it was nothing I was doing.

It was something MJ was doing…

Here’s what he said:

“When you said ‘the number 7 will have vanished from your mind’, I couldn’t do it. Numbers are super important in my work, so the thought of losing my ability with them caused me to panic and hold on even tighter…”

Boom. There’s the problem – I said something that he disagreed with.

I had an idea, so I refreshed the rag and back “under” he went…

“When you open your eyes, for the next few minutes, I want you to forget the number 7… it won’t be gone for long and I promise to bring it back, but when I wake you up, it’ll be as if the number 7 never existed… one, two, three… eyes open… You good? Awesome. Do me a favour, count your fingers…”

“1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… … er… 8… 9… 10… 11?”


The lesson?

Don’t give people something they can answer “Nope!” to in your marketing.

It’s not that you have to please everyone. It’s more about being careful before you go wielding bold, divisive statements that not all your audience will agree with.

if you’re in the weight loss niche, for example, it’s probably a mistake to say stuff like:

“I know you hate yourself when you look in the mirror…”

“You’re worried about looking good in that new bikini for summer, Dave”

“You struggle with energy in the morning…”

… because not everyone will be nodding their heads.

Declarative statements can make you feel like you’re communicating with your people, and there are many situations where they work but, if you’re going to use them, for the love of marketing…

Make absolutely damn sure ALL your target audience agrees with them.

If you want to be specific WITHOUT alienating folk, try a softer approach:

“If you’re struggling to ‘get up and go’ in the mornings… perhaps you’re in ‘holiday countdown’ mode and want to feel confident wearing that new bikini on the beach… or maybe you’re just sick of your own reflection… whatever you’re feeling, RhinoLax is for you…”

Weird thing is, even though it feels “weaker”… it’s actually more powerful.

“If… perhaps…. maybe” doesn’t give the reader anything to say “Nope!” to, so they don’t switch off, but the folk who are struggling with energy, wanting to rock their new bikini, or walk past the mirror without crying are nodding along with you, wondering how the hell you managed to break into their house and read their journal.

Have a great weekend,