"$32,792 in Your First Month" – The Pique Technique in Action
Have you ever wondered about those sales pages that promise $32,792.17 in sales or profits? Why not $30,000 or $32K or something else easier to read? There’s a method to the madness. Specifically, it’s called the pique technique.
One area of research in the field of Social Psychology is the study of persuasion. John Cacioppo and Richard Petty theorized that there are two routes that one can take when trying to persuade another person. They suggested that there was a direct (“central”) route to persuasion and an indirect (“peripheral”) route, and it was the indirect route that they were most intrigued by.
The direct route uses facts and arguments to change a person’s opinion, or attitude. When a salesman tells you that his product will last longer than the other product, or is less expensive, that is using the “direct approach.” Any good salesman is going to hit you with facts and figures to distract you from his true aim.
Have you ever had a salesman use an annoying sales pitch, and then say something like, “I hate having to say that, but that’s what the company wants!” or something similar? What the salesman is trying to do is disassociate himself from the “powers-that-be” and show himself as a “common man.” By doing so, the salesman hopes to make you like him and associate with him. Once you’ve become an acquaintance of his, the salesman knows he has you on the hook. That is an example of an indirect approach to sales. Cacioppo and Petty’s studies suggested to them that this method is vastly superior to the direct approach to sales.
Which brings us to the “pique technique.” This concept was developed in a study involving public interactions with the homeless. You know the story. A homeless person asks for some spare change for food, or a woman needs “a couple dollars” for gas. What do you do when this happens? The vast majority of Americans either look away, or make a quick excuse before hustling off.
The study, published in 1994 by Anthony Pratkanis, showed that when a seemingly homeless person asked passers-by for “37 cents” a great many of them stopped and rummaged in their pockets for some loose change. In fact, 60% more often than when they were asked for “a quarter.” This was a fascinating breakthrough. It was then tested over and over. What scientists learned is that when we are given a specific number, we tend to believe more in the number. While “a couple of bucks” could buy gas or drugs, we assume that “$1.73” will accomplish the specific task for which we are told it is intended.
“Excuse me, but I am 73 cents short of a Big Mac. Could you help me?”
“Excuse me, I ran out of gas back there and could use a couple bucks. Can you help me?”
Which person is more likely to get your charity?
But has either of them given any real PROOF of their intentions? No. The “couple bucks” person really could be out of gas, and the “73 cents” person may be just short of a pint of whiskey. You don’t know, but you are led to believe that you do by the “pique technique.” Your interest was piqued by the odd, specific number, and the indirect route to persuasion began.
Now are you seeing why you can make $32,792.17 in your first month? With a number like that, it MUST be true, or so you are to believe. Most folks will quickly assume that the seller must have accomplished this task, otherwise he wouldn’t say it. Just by reading that number, the salesman has already made you believe something. Once has convinced you of one thing, the next beliefs come easier.
After engaging the pique technique to get you looking at the sales page, the writer can begin the task of converting your interest into action. As the sales letter progresses, many more persuasion techniques will be used, including:
- “plain folks”
- “glittering generalities”
- “commitment and consistency”
- and of course… “testimonial”
There are numerous other techniques that can be, and are, used by salesman and copywriters to turn passers-by and web-surfers into conversions. In upcoming articles, I will delve deeper into each of these and expose the secrets of the top marketers. By doing so, I hope to take the Internet back from the behemoths and turn it over over to the people. That’s…
The Way of the Schwa!(TM)