Book Club

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapter 24-25

In chapter 24, Joe goes into depth on rewriting. Sort of. He calls this the most important chapter in the book. He goes through the process a couple of times. Here was the first example:

  1. The door was opened by Joe.
  2. Joe opened the door.
  3. Joe kicked open the door.
  4. Joe kicked open the door.

He calls the last line irresistible. Perhaps. From an NLP perspective, the idea here is to use kinesthetic language in 1st position. That’s what they call active voice. The rest of the chapter is another example and narrative of him doing this process with a client.

Chapter 25 is about using language tools.

Joe recommends using a thesaurus to find simpler words.

He also recommends using similies. I’m sure you’ll take to that like a duck to water. I seem to remember hearing somewhere not to mix similes though. That would make you as blind as a baby’s behind and smooth as a bat.

Then there are analogies. One of his examples is a chess analogy: “The strategies in this book will teach you how to checkmate the competition!”

And finally we have quotes. It’s good to set quotes apart visually. Your reader’s eyes are drawn to them. And from the quotes pattern in NLP we know that quotes can also give us an implied endorsement or speak for us… say something we wouldn’t or shouldn’t or that needs more credibility than we could give it ourselves.

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapter 22-23

In Chapter 22, Joe talks about how many of the past great writers got that way by imitating other great writing. Specifically he encourages us to copy other letters by hand. As far as I know, that’s a universal recommendation for copywriters. Michael Masterson said that you can type out letters and it works the same. I kinda wish I would have known that before I copied out a number of letters by hand.

Chapter 23 is how to get inspiration to write. Joe’s advice is to do it and the inspiration will follow. That’s also in line with what all other writers I’ve heard say. Stephen King talks about that in his book “On Writing” too. I think I remember him saying he writes for an hour a day even on holidays. Many copywriters write for an hour or two first thing when they wake up.

How long you write for is another matter. One famous copywriter, Eugene Schwartz is famous for his 33 minute, 33 second writing sessions that he enforced with a stopwatch. Steve Pavlina says it takes him about 15 minutes to get into a flow state and an article could end up taking him 4 uninterrupted hours to complete.

The take away here is to plan your writing time and then just do it.

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapter 20-21

In Chapter 20, Joe makes the point that repetition is hypnotic.

He uses one example of Robin Williams in the movie, “Good Will Hunting.” At the end of the movie, Williams tells Matt Damon that it’s not his fault. Of course it almost gets him assaulted too but it’s just a movie, right?

Another example that comes to mind is a Derren Brown’s Subway Amnesia trick. You’ll notice it didn’t work every time and once he didn’t really use repetition. The phrase he’s using is an embedded command… “What STOP, thinking about it now…”


Chapter 21 is “The Inner Game Of Hypnotic Writing.” Of course I don’t recall what each chapter is about before I reread it for this review series so I was excited when I saw Joe mentioning the book series on inner game. That’s how I learned to ski- I read “The Inner Game of Skiing”, watched an instructional DVD on it and then rehearsed in my head. The first day I went skiing for real, I managed to make it safely down a blue-black hill.

Inner game topics also relate closely to NLP modeling. In fact, I created a model of direct response copywriting. It’s free to anyone who opts into my mailing list here.

So I’m expecting big things when I start into this chapter. First Joe talks about the critic voice and the master writer voice and tells us to turn off the critic while writing at the beginning. Sure, no problem. I like to think of them as the researcher, writer and editor but critic and master work fine too.

Then he talks about 3 steps to basically do stream of consciousness writing.

  1. Set a goal
  2. Be aware of the moment
  3. Trust what happens

Uh, really? That’s the inner game of hypnotic writing? Writing in trance? I was hoping for more than that. I’m all for stream of consciousness and sometimes do it that way too. Or maybe it’s just that hypnosis sometimes seems haphazard when measured against an NLP model.

Whatever the case, if you want inner game stuff check out my copywriting model. And feel free to write in stream of consciousness too when you get to the writing stage of the process.

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapter 18-19

In chapter 18, Joe throws his two cents into the long copy versus short copy debate. His answer is that as a general rule of thumb, you need more words for a higher price and that you can write as much as you want as long as it’s interesting.

This may not exactly be a hypnotic writing topic per se but it’s one that every writer wonders about. Just because people read books doesn’t mean you can turn a sales letter into a book no matter how interesting it is. And then there are plenty of catalog sites that sell just fine with a single paragraph.

I’m a fan of stepping back and looking at the big picture. Each sales letter needs to fit into the larger conversation that may be happening through other media than just the single sales letter. If the person has already read a review about your product elsewhere, they may not need a long sales letter. If I spoke to someone over the phone, I may not need anything at all other than an email address to PayPal them some money.

There are two competing philosphies here. There’s “the more you tell, the more you sell,” competing with the idea that many salespeople talk themselves out of too many sales. Oftentimes silence is golden.

So the real answer is to test. And test against nothing too. If you have 10 paragraphs plus a headline, you ought to test not including each of those paragraphs and not having a headline. The only thing you wouldn’t want to test not having is the order link. Everything else is fair game.

Chapter 19 is a reminder to always write to your reader’s insterest rather than your own. Joe encourages us to consider that our readers will be asking, “So what?”, “Who cares?” and “What’s in it for me?” True that.

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapter 16-17

Chapter 16 is about the two ways to motivate people. Joe says you can either use pleasure or pain and that most marketers use pain.

He does note that he prefers to avoid putting more pain into the marketplace as his contribution to humanity. Even so, he gives us a couple of fairly well known sales models:

AIDA: Attention, interest, desire and action.

Problem, promise, proof and price.

So how do you do that without focusing on the problem? Joe reprints an article on the subject that you can find here:

The Greatest Motivator Isn’t What You Think—
or, What I Learned From Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler on Valentine’s Day

Then Joe says he’s stepped back from that position a little. Now he thinks it’s okay to at least mention the problem in case the person is in denial about it. Alternately you could be entering the conversation going on inside their head that way.

One example he gives is that someone who has sore feet would probably pay attention to a headline “Sore Feet?” But then he says he’d want to test that against solution oriented headlines like “Want Foot Relief?

Joe quotes Eugene Schwartz as having said, “You are literally the script writer for your prospect’s dreams.”

Based on that, Joe sets out to make up a new formula: Promise, proof and price.

Interestingly enough, that formula is only missing one of the elements copywriters often teach: Picture. So the 4 P’s as they’re called are picture, promise, proof and push (or price).

I think Joe is headed in the right direction here. It coincides with what we’re learning about generative NLP (aka NOTNLP). In NOTNLP, there’s no concern for any problems. You simply find out what the person wants and help them create that in a future context.

The difference between that and “Picture” is that you take them there to that future and help them experience what it would be like if they already had it and knew they did. That’s a little more thorough than simply imagining something.

On to Chapter 17…

Here Joe talks about expanding his 3 step formula into a full online landing page. He uses an example which is no longer live. I can’t tell for sure whether it’s a domain parking page or an affiliate site. In any event, he’s just showing us an example of promise, proof and price.

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapter 14-15

In chapter 14, Joe tells how he learned a lot about hypnotic writing from magic catalogs.

He tells the story of how he was interested in magic as a child and picked it back up as an adult.

Joe talks about how the catalogs sell the sizzle not the steak. They highlight the benefits rather than the features.

The chapter goes on to break down an ad for a magician pointing out credibility built, using scarcity, building value, appealing to your reader’s ego, preempting objections, building agreement, and associating with an image (in this case James Bond).

Joe must like secrets too. He says that one of his secrets is that the higher the product price, the more copy you’ll need. I really hope that’s not a secret to anyone calling themselves a marketer.

The chapter concludes by telling us to ask ourselves what the reader wants and writing to that interest.

Chapter 15 is two pages explaining that hypnotic writing enters the conversation already taking place inside the prospect’s head.

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapter 13

Chapter 13 of Joe’s “Hypnotic Writing” book is what he calls a controlled study in hypnotic writing.

There’s a before and after sales letter for an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) product.

I’ll post the headline and lead for both versions (original one first):


Moments from now, you could be transforming your relationship to money, creating greater freedom to attract as much of it as you desire!

Are you ready . . . ?

If you’re struggling with money, it’s not your fault.

Parents, society, movies, and even your friends are programming you to stay in a poverty mind set. They aren’t doing it on purpose. They aren’t evil. They were simply programmed and are passing the virus down the line, to you.

And the hypnotically re-written version:

If you want to create money beyond belief the spiritual way- even if nothing’s worked for you in the past:

Give Us 151 Minutes, and We’ll Show You 9 Ancient “Taps” that Lead to Breathtaking Wealth and Abundance – or You Don’t Pay a Penny.

Each Tap Lasts Just 3 Seconds. We’ll Walk You Through Over 217 Combinations – But Just One of Them Can Transform Your Relationship to Money Forever.

Hard to believe? Let us prove it to you. If our Money Beyond Belief! Home Tapping System doesn’t heal your deepest beliefs about money, we’ll refund 100% your purchase (yes, that’s cash back in your pocket – how’s that for abundance?) on the spot.

You can see both the full letters at these URLs respectively:

Joe says the first one barely made 100 sales in 100 days. The second made $8,500 in one day. And both were the same offer sent to the same list.

So what’s the difference?

A couple of thoughts:

The first one doesn’t have a real headline. The sentence that follows it is extremely vague. The second one promises a benefit, uses specificity AND curiosity and has a guarantee all rolled into one.

The first one uses a lot of negative positioning like telling the reader he might be struggling or stuck. Even if you say it doesn’t have to be that way, you’re telling him that it currently IS that way.

The second letter is full of hope giving words such as heal, believe, abundance, prove, imagine and offers their money back guarantee in the headline AND the lead. I don’t really see any NLP patterns other than presuppositions and a little future pacing in the second paragraph. Even so, it’s magnitudes better than the first. No doubt, some patterns would increase their conversion even more.

If you scroll through them, the first isn’t even a real sales letter. There’s no real call to action other than the order links spread throughout. It comes across as a pushy car salesman with ADD. It’s a little surprising it got any sales at all.

If you’d like to learn NLP copywriting patterns and how to be more elegant, check out my home study course at

The free opt-in list even reveals what the most powerful patterns are.

What else do you notice about these two letters?

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapters 11-12

Chapter 11 of “Hypnotic Writing” is about writing in your own voice. Joe notes that everyone has their own way of talking about things and encourages us to let that shine. He calls it writing with intimacy.

What copywriters typically call this is writing conversationally. It means writing the way you talk. The funny thing about that is that some people… well they’re hard to understand when they talk. Joe quotes Mark Twain saying that if people tried to talk the way most of us were taught to write, we’d all stutter.

So yes, write in a conversational voice. If you’re a copywriter, you’ll end up writing in other people’s conversational voices. That’s where modeling comes in. I was actually reading a Dan Kennedy promotion the other day and it was fairly clear to me that Dan Kennedy didn’t write it (not that I would have thought he would have anyway). I’d link to it but I just checked and they have a page saying the offer is expired.

Who wrote it? It doesn’t matter. The point is that whoever wrote it clearly wasn’t comfortable writing in Kennedy’s famous “No BS” style of speaking. It felt contrived. Not hypnotic, not intimate, not authenic and so no credible. If the copywriter could have modeled Kennedy first, the copy would have sounded conversational from Kennedy – instead of someone trying to pretend to be Kennedy.

Chapter 12 of “Hypnotic Writing” asks what’s more important than the copy. If you’ve been in direct marketing very long at all, you already know the answer: it’s the list, THEN the offer, THEN the copy.  If you do so-so on the copy but nail the list and offer, you can still make money. If you have an exceptional offer and copy but you send it to the wrong list of people, it will flop.

Joe then tells a story about how he tried making an offer one time without any copy and they ended up with a buyer anyway. Truthfully, there actually was some copy – his email telling people to go look at this new traffic method that people were already desperate to see. So it did have copy after all. Just not very much or very good copy.

I’ve seen others online test not having a sales letter as well. I don’t know how well that works. Maybe if you have a hot enough list you can throw just about anything at it. I’d question what kind of message that sends your list if you care about your long term relationship with them.

The next chapter is on an actual case study with some actual numbers. Don’t miss it.

Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” Chapters 9-10

Chapter 9 is called, “What Is Hypnotic Writing?” Joe talks about how hypnotic writing is a form of waking hypnosis.

By that he means, “Anything you do which makes your readers react because of MENTAL IMAGES you plant in their minds is HYPNOTIC WRITING!” The original statement said listeners and waking hypnosis instead of readers and hypnotic writing.

Then Joe reiterates his definition of hypnotic writing:

Hypnotic Writing is intentionally using words to guide people into a focused mental state where they are inclined to buy your product or service.

Joe takes the second half of the chapter to show the difference between features based writing and hypnotic writing. The latter uses imagery and a technique by which you map something extraordinary onto something otherwise mundane. So rather than just being a vibrating pen, it’s a teensy-weensy masseuse in your pocket that also happens to write.

Chapter 10 is a case study. Joe did a rewrite of some copy and has both versions here for our review. I’ll repeat the headlines from both and then comment.


Discover Why The Country’s Foremost Success Hypnotherapist Continues to Help So Many Enjoy “Unexplainable” Breakthroughs, and Truly Massive Personal Gains!

For 26 Years, His Claim of “I’ll Help You Move from Ordinary to Extraordinary!” Has Been Proven to Help Millions Worldwide Enjoy Amazing Life Transformations; He Guarantees You’ll Make Staggering Confidence, Incredible Personal Income, and Peak Life Performance Your Everyday Fact!

You’re About to See That His Acclaimed, Mega-Personal Development System Will Work as Thoroughly and Decisively – for You.

Yes – Now You Can Go On to Produce the Simple, Yet Stunning Personal Change That Makes Life Say an Overwhelming Yes to YOU!

And Joe’s headline rewrite:

Discover Why the Country’s Foremost Success Hypnotherapist Continues to Create “Unexplainable Breakthroughs, and Truly Massive Personal Gains in people just like YOU!

For 26 Years, His Claim of “I’ll Help You Move from Ordinary to Extraordinary!” Has Been Proven to Help Millions Worldwide Enjoy Amazing Life Transformations; He Guarantees You’ll Make Staggering Confidence, Incredible Personal Income, and Peak Life Performance Your Everyday Fact!

At Last: Gain Iron-Will Self-Confidence – Destroy Your Inner Limits – Develop a Power Mind and quit pussyfooting around with your life and get RESULTS! Guaranteed by the world’s foremost sports hypnotherapist!

From these two excerpts, you can see that most of the first block and all of the second are identical. I underlined the differences in the first headline for easy reference. Having the whole thing in front of me, the other major change was to remove a long narrative that followed these headlines and go straight to the bullet points instead.

Looking at the last part of it, you can see that Joe’s last header is pretty powerful. Words like “iron-will”, “destroy”, “power” and “guaranteed” make a pretty big difference. Does that make it hypnotic? Sure. Our definition allows for a lot of things to qualify.

Chapter 11 is about the great intimacy secret. Don’t miss it.

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