embedded commands

Don’t Try Hypnotic Writing Like This

One of the fundamental mistakes people make when trying out hypnotic writing is to assume that something you SAY works the same as something you WRITE.

For instance, one of the most widely known patterns are embedded commands. They work in spoken language because some words and phrases can have two or more meanings and your subconscious can recognize both.

The most obvious use of this is when writers use the phrase, “By now…” With that, they’re hoping your subconscious will take the suggestion, “Buy now.” That might work in person depending on a bunch of factors (voice inflection being the most important), it won’t achieve the same result in writing.

For a more involved example from the seminar “Persuasion Engineering,” John La Valle tells a story. It’s about how his young son came up to him and said, “When is now a good time to get me some ice cream, isn’t it?”

Clearly, the command is that now is a good time to get him ice cream. In speech, when you embed a command in a question like that it’s more likely to go unnoticed. And if it IS noticed, you can pretend you said something else.

As you were reading that ice cream command, did you have to go back and read it again? If so, it’s because it’s not grammatically correct. Also, in writing, you CAN go back and read it again so people will catch you if you’re not much more subtle.

This applies to all hypnosis and NLP. You can say and do things in person that simply won’t work in writing. You could speak in continuous run-on sentences. If you did, the transcript would be a mess.

“Notice how sad you start to feel inside, as you realise that no other course or training on the market has ever (or will ever) teach you the True Inside Secrets of NLP, CMT and Clinical Hypnotherapy in the way this course would have done ? How Sad does that make you feel?”

If someone did this to you in person, you probably couldn’t help but go along with it especially if the person had been talking for a while already and established some good rapport.

But here you see it and immediately catch on what he’s trying to do. “How Sad does that make you feel?” Really? How do you feel seeing IN PRINT that someone is callously trying to make you feel bad so you’ll purchase his course? You’d probably feel something like irritation, not sadness.

If you want to achieve stellar results with hypnotic writing, you have to help people feel good in a way that doesn’t feel obviously manipulative. That’s where the real power is.

Realize that hypnotic writing is substantially different than spoken hypnosis or NLP. Take the time to learn elegance and you’ll be well on your way to greatness.

You can learn elegance by reading this blog over time. If you’d like to get everything I know altogether, check out my course, “Be A Hypnotic Writer.” The first lesson is free:


Testing Bullets

I was pleasantly surprised to see the results of James Brausch’s testing on bullets versus paragraphs.

I’ve often felt that leading with bullets intuitively felt more appropriate. Clayton Makepeace often does it and it makes a lot of sense. Check out this sales letter he has up. After you read the headline, you can read some bullets and really decide whether you want to plow through the long copy or not. Of course long versus short copy is a different discussion.

Since Clayton does it and James has verified it usually converts better through multivariate testing, you might think there’s nothing more to say about it, right? Well…

What if in addition to testing feature, benefit, or nothingness bullets as James recommends, you also tested an NLP pattern? You’d figure out what kinds of patterns converted better for your particular market. You’d also begin to figure out how elegant you need to be.

One copywriter insists that you can use the equivalent of BUY NOW type embedded commands and get results. So test it. I don’t recommend testing something that obvious but you can sure calibrate it down until the conversion rate starts to turn against you.

You’re free! You’re free! Run wild… free from the shackles of paragraphs. 🙂

Embedded Commands in Forum Posts

There are several ways to format embedded commands.

On a hard copy print, you have total control over how it turns out. Online, sometimes things render differently in their browser (like in Harlan’s golf letter).

A forum is usually even more limited in formatting. There are specific colors and text sizes available.

For my video release, I looked at several things. First I played with font colors. They all seemed a little too conspicuous to me. Then I looked at text size. In my browser, the default text size is 2. If I formatted the embedded command with size 3, it looked pretty good.

Then I wondered about people who may view their text in a larger size than I do in my browser. I increased the font size on the preview to see what that would do. As you can see in the following before and after pictures below, it increased both text sizes by one. The difference between text size 2 and 3 are pretty small but from 3 to 4, it looks like you’ve also added bold emphasis. That’s no good.

Look at the second paragraph after the salutation. Do you see the difference in "this is different." I realize it’s not a very direct command but that’s part of the being elegant. I tried to avoid any "BUY NOW" kind of commands especially near the beginning.



After all that, I decided the most elegant solution for the commands was to italicize most of them and leave the rest unformatted. I have a persona shift into an embedded command just before the middle of the letter that may have been too obvious if I’d emphasized it with any formatting change.

If you didn’t see the final outcome of my formatting, go to:


NLP Copywriting 101 Finally Available

I released my online video, NLP Copywriting 101, on the Warriors Forum in their special offer area.

If you’re interested in getting a copy, you’ll need to become a member there.

I can’t guarantee I’ll release the video to the general public. It will likely be in a different format if I do. If you want to get the current release, I recommend you visit the thread.

At the very least, you can check out how I used NLP Copywriting in my own sales letter.

Stay tuned for a post regarding how I finally chose to format the embedded commands for forum code. If you’re not familiar with it, forum code is the limited html you can do in a forum post. I couldn’t do my first couple of preferences for embedded commands and had to adjust accordingly.

Here’s the link to the forum post:


[Update: NLP Copywriting 101 is no longer available. The new and improved way to learn the topic is at http://hypnoticwriter.org .]

Dueling Wizards

I noticed another blog post commenting that non-NLP trained readers are oblivious to obvious uses of NLP so there’s no worry about being too obvious.

The writer then commented that since most people won’t ever know, that fellow "magicians" should sit back and enjoy the show rather than point out how it was done. The blog isn’t open to comments or trackbacks so I won’t bother naming names.

If we were all in the business of entertaining audiences, I’d completely agree. Even if we were all copywriters and wanted to keep our best persuasive tactics to ourselves, I might still be inclined to agree. Fact is, my goal here is to teach NLP Copywriting to as many entrepreneurs as want to learn.

I’ve posted on these themes before. The first was When to give away the farm in information products . I followed that up recently with Death of the Layman .

Then there’s seeming inherent contradiction in having a blog on NLP advertising but then getting upset when someone else teaches on it too. The writer didn’t link to anything so I’m only assuming what he’s talking about. Harlan Kilstein is the most vocal anti-obvious proponent I’m guessing.

As far as being too obvious goes, you just have to test it. Every market is different. What worked yesterday won’t work as well tomorrow. Richard Bandler (or was it John LeValle?) said that you don’t know how far you can push until you’ve been kicked out of someone’s office. So test and push and balance that with the core values of your business. See what happens. Maybe Harlan will rip pages out of your book on YouTube.

One of the presuppositions of NLP is that there is no failure, only feedback. I hope the writer of the post above doesn’t feel like I’m picking on him as a person. We’ve never met. I’m sure if we did, there’d be some interesting conversation to be had. He probably realizes the not-so-secret tactic of gaining interest by stirring up controversy… not that that was my original intention. Maybe we can start a running feud… like a wizards’ duel. 🙂

And in the spirit of exposing secrets (and lobbing another lightning bolt), another thing I noticed on the writer’s product page was that he makes the statement that he’s assuming all the readers already know NLP. If that were a valid assumption, why would you still be obvious about your uses of it? It seems like you’d want to write a more subtle letter to fellow magicians. I actually shared a few comments on that sales letter in a previous post .

If you’d like to learn more about being an NLP Copywriting magician (or watch more detailed critiques of uses of NLP in copy), watch for my upcoming video.

To State The Obvious

There’s a lot of NLP that you can’t use in writing.

You’d think that would be obvious since much of NLP is dependent on sensory input you get from the person you’re working with/on. Even so, I still see more than a few examples of people writing things that only work in person.

For example, in NLP there are times when it’s appropriate to interrupt the current thought process of the person you’re speaking to. If you do that as strongly in writing, the reader can easily get distracted from your letter and even click away to do something else… not what you want to do.

If you interrupt someone in person, they’ll most likely stop what they’re doing and wait for whatever comes next which would probably be your next pattern. In writing, they may think of something else they need to be doing instead of reading your letter.

Another thing is the obvious use of embedded commands. This has been written about quite a bit as the poor (but most common) use of NLP. The thing about copy is that people can more easily notice what you’re doing. If you’ve just emphasized, BUY NOW …. gee that’s not obvious. You think? Someone might not notice if you slip that into a conversation but they will with it screaming off the page like that.

Marketers sometimes write as if they don’t realize that attention is different online versus in person. If you send someone inside to access something instead of continuing to read, they may not come back to your letter. In person, they have nowhere else to go unless they just stay inside. Eventually they’ll have to come back and there you are.

The upside is that for copy, you have all the time you need to plan your strategies. If you want to plan out and sequence your presuppositions, go right ahead.

If you can extrapolate this idea across all the patterns and foundations of NLP, you’ll have a good grasp of what will work in copy. If all else fails, test it and see.