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I’ve previously written about how marketers can deliver better white papers by applying the “triggers for compliance” laid out in Robert Cialdini’s Influence: ThePsychology of Persuasion.

fascinateNow I’m going to share new triggers that marketers can use to their advantage. In her book Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, Sally Hogshead (who gave the keynote speech on opening day at this year’s Content Marketing World) outlines the seven triggers that get everyone’s brains responding in some way by fascinating them. Let’s walk through how marketers can use these triggers to better connect with their audiences.

First, the seven triggers and how you can tap into them (click on the links associated with each trigger for a mini overview on YouTube):

  • Power: You can assume a position of power by defining a new set of rules on your terms; establishing a ranking system (with you at the front of the line); and seeking respect over affection.
  • Passion: You draw people in with emotion by focusing on feelings instead of on facts and data; creating opportunities to use all five senses; and teasing but not giving everything away.
  • Mystique: Here you spark curiosity by asking questions without giving the answers; revealing less than expected (i.e., withholding information); and using stories instead of facts to build a mythology.
  • Prestige: You create prestige (and gain respect and recognition) by setting a new standard instead of engaging in the same old discussion; limiting availability (tapping into the scarcity effect); and offering ways for people to relate to one another (such as by creating emblems).
  • Alarm: Create urgency by defining consequences; creating deadlines; and using shared concerns to motivate, unite, and involve.
  • Rebellion: When you’re rebellious, you change the game by leading the audience astray, i.e., lure others away from the competition by offering an alternative; disrupting the status quo (such as by injecting irreverence into straightforward messages); and encouraging people to experiment with new behavior and beliefs.
  • Trust: You build loyalty by becoming familiar to your audience; telling your unique story with passion so you stand out as authentic; and delivering a consistent message over and over. According to Hogshead, this is the most important of the triggers but the downside is that if you become too predictable, people will start to ignore you.

So how can you apply these triggers to your content? Let’s use a white paper at the early stages of the buying cycle as an example. The assumption is that you’re covering business issues or opportunities, the pitfalls of not overcoming or pursuing these, options for doing so (i.e., how others have addressed this), and guidance on the best option (or how the reader can choose the best option for his or her situation).

Power: Instead of laying out the same old story line as all your competitors, find a unique way to frame the story and establish your company as one with a unique perspective.

Prestige and Rebellion: Rather than offer up the tried-and-true options, outline innovative ways to overcome challenges/achieve goals. If possible, highlight companies that have already done so with great success.

Passion: While stats and facts have their place in a white paper, elicit an emotional response by working in a story about a real person, perhaps when you highlight how other companies have successfully attained their goals or surmounted obstacles.

Mystique: End your paper by pointing readers to additional information related to this topic. In other words, promise to share further insights that they can use to their advantage. Perhaps that’s by helping them convince others within their companies that it makes sense to further explore the options you’ve presented. Or maybe it’s seeing additional examples of how others have achieved success.

Alarm: Get readers motivated to take action by pointing them to a webinar that will air on a certain date, by reminding them what might happen if they fail to act, or by highlighting all the other companies that took action and were glad they did so.

Trust: Gain your audience’s trust by consistently conveying your message and building your story line across all related content, such as the webinar or case studies you invite them to access next.

This is just one example of you can apply these triggers to better engage prospects and customers.

For fun, take this free test created by Sally Hogshead to understand your unique combination of personality strengths.