Sneaky tip: How to make the outrageous, believable

Is there a way to take a claim that seems off the wall, or even outrageous…

And with a minor twist, make that claim seem much more believable?

I was reminded of this great copywriting technique recently during a call with my coaching student Kathy.

She surprised me by announcing at the start of the call that she had a TV interview the next day, and she wanted to know what advice I had.

(Coaching is so much fun that way. I never know what my students will challenge me with next.)

From a marketing perspective, Kathy’s in a great position because she’s a contrarian. Her stance is that 85% or more of the “professionals” in her field of health care are actually rank amateurs. They’re quite literally destroying people’s lives WHILE committing insurance fraud.

Serious charges, those.

She wanted to know:

How can she get that point across without seeming angry or looking like she has an ax to grind?

And I said, you know what carries far more weight than an incendiary accusation?

A loaded question.

This is one of the go-to techniques in the copywriter’s bag of tricks.

When you need to make a claim that’s 100% true but you just KNOW your skeptical readers won’t buy into it, you can often flip the statement into a question.

Example:

In the sales page I’m writing to sell a “get your dream job” course to software developers, I can’t come right out and say, “You’ll get a raise if you follow this program.”

They just wouldn’t believe it.

So instead I’m asking, “If you did X, Y and Z, could you see yourself getting an extra 2% bump in your pay next year?”

When you use questions this way, you’re almost forcing your reader (or viewer, in this case) to at least consider the possibility of what you’re proposing.

You’re engaging them actively — they can’t just reject your statement out of hand and move on.

In Kathy’s case, we kicked around some provocative questions she could pose, like:

“When a health care professional provides one service and bills the insurance company for something completely different, what would YOU call that?”

Outrageous statements roll off your consciousness like water off a duck’s back.

But questions demand an answer, don’t they?

Should you ask Yes-or-No questions, or open-ended questions? Here’s my take.