How People Can Become Totally Influenced
Using Just a Few Words…
“The end of the Earth is near. you need to leave the planet now aboard a spaceship that is following the comet Hale-Bopp. But to get into this spaceship, you have to leave your human body behind. Everything that you need to do is eat this apple sauce mixed with lethal doses of phenobarbital. But do not worry. One unidentified flying object (UFO) will take your soul to another level of existence above the human race.”
What would you do if I told you this? You would probably put me in a straitjacket, right?
But in 1997, 38 people believed every word and followed these instructions, in a mass suicide caused by the Heaven’s Gate cult.
But what made these people believe that?
Well, one of the secrets of this sect (and every sect) is that its leaders make its members feel part of a special group. They isolate members from friends and family members, convincing them that those outside the sect just don’t understand. That’s why the Scientology (yes, it’s a sect!) defends something they call “disconnect” as a key to growth spiritual of its members. What is disconnection? It’s basically cut all ties with anyone who criticize Scientology, including family and friends.
This kind of group dynamic doesn’t just happen in sects. Our brains are programmed to be tribal. According to psychological studies, any group
of humans will organize into groups of us/they in seconds and for almost any reason.
We see this daily… your team favorite against other teams, democrats against republicans, dog lovers against cat lovers, etc.
Science shows that having a common enemy frees the oxytocin, thus increasing the sense of belonging. AND guess what? If You Can Make Your Target Audience feel part of a group, they will be more inclined to buy your product. No wonder some of the most successful marketing campaigns.
A PHRASE THAT KILLED 21 MILLION OF PEOPLE
“Either the German people annihilate the Jews or the Jews will
enslave us.” Adolf Hitler
That phrase killed millions of people. Yes, Hitler was a monster. He was also a master of persuasion. You already stopped to think how he convinced an entire nation to kill 21 million people during its brutal Third 12-year-old Reich?
He applied various persuasion techniques in his speeches, like the one you see above. This powerful technique is known as an “either-or” fallacy. It’s a phrase that increases drastically interest, creating a false dilemma in the mind of the public. By using this technique, Hitler made the Germans believe they had no other option. They had to kill the Jews. There was no middle ground. As a result, this phrase created an incredible sense of urgency among the Germans. they had to act!
This is the weapon marketers (professionals or not) can use against you, whether in politics or an advertising campaign, as we see in the iconic 1984 advertisement of the first Apple Macintosh. In that advertisement, PC users are portrayed as irrational gray robots, going blindly towards a character similar to Big Brother. Then a young woman comes in, fit and attractive (representing Apple), who heroically destroys the giant screen. Or what about advertisements more recent ones that showed the PC guy (wearing a suit and looking like a nerd) and the “Mac”, looking cool and competent? That’s how Apple created an enemy: the PC and its users. And they built this common enemy in much of its advertising. No wonder the Apple created an obsessive brand loyalty.