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How to pull off “Inception” in real life

If you can’t yell louder in a crowded market… then try this sneaky way to get more attention, engagement and sales.

Let’s face it:

We are all irrational people living in a completely irrational world.

We make emotional decisions that very rarely make any logical sense. That’s just the way our brains work.

The great thing this, once you understand how the human brain works, it makes sales, marketing and advertising a whole heck of alot easier.

And that’s because you realize that we are all functioning with the exact same software coded into our brains.

You might not believe what I’m about to tell you… and that’s perfectly alright. But just for a moment, I want you to suspend your disbelief and hear what I have to say.

Believe it or not… inception is real.

Yes, I’m talking about that Leo Dicaprio movie.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, here’s how Wikipedia defines it:

“The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious, and is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for a seemingly impossible task: “inception”, the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious.”

The last part of that quote is the important part:

inception = the implantation of another’s idea into a target’s subconscious.

(Now I’m not talking about slipping into their brain like they did in the movie. I’m just referring to the ability to plant ideas in people’s minds that make them to take the action you desire.)

This is not only possible in real life. It’s incredibly easy to do. And I use inception to plant my “big ideas” into prospects brains all the time in the marketing campaigns I create for my clients.

Let me show you how this is done.

What you have to realize is that we essentially have two brains. A conscious mind and a subconscious/nonconscious mind.

It’s our goal with inception to target our prospect’s subconscious mind.

If you want to do that, two things need to happen:

  1. You need to explain the benefits of your idea in an unrelated context
  2. You need to plant an undeniable truth into their mind

The first step plants the idea seed. And the second step waters it so it can grow.

Let’s say you wanted to convince your friends to try out a new restaurant.

You found it yourself, checked out the menu, and you’re all pumped up. The only problem is, your group of friends are hesitant to try new places. And besides… they never really listen to your opinion anyway.

If you come right out and tell them all the reasons why it’d be a good idea, you’re likely to experience a bit of resistance. People don’t like being told what to do or what to think. That’s the resistance you’ll run into in their conscious mind.

But if you instead held back your idea and instead presented them with something along the lines of:

“Hey, my buddy from work went to this cool place called ___ and you’ll never believe what they did there”

… you’ll likely have a better chance of getting them to take the bait and see things your way.

You’re not telling them what to do… you’re simply explaining benefits in an unrelated context.

More than likely, someone will suggest you guys pick this new place… essentially doing all of the dirty work for you.

Now, that’s only half the equation.

The other half is presenting an undeniable truth.

All you have to do here is present a piece of information that cannot be denied in either an irrational or logical form.

This might sound hard at first, but here’s how I’ve done it in a few of the ad campaigns I’ve worked on.

I worked on a marketing campaign for a sprayable vitamin product a while back.

Now.. vitamins are an inherently boring product.

(Unless they’re Flinstone vitamins!)

There are a million brands out there… and everyone knows the benefits already.

So shouting more benefits probably isn’t going to work well.

Instead… I came up with the idea to present prospects with an “undeniable truth.”

On the sales page, we told people about how when doctors perform x-rays on patients… they frequently find an average of 20–30 undigested vitamin capsules still stuck in their intestines and digestive tract.

And then, to bolster this claim, we provided actual X-ray pictures of pills stuck in their intestines. You can actually count this vitamins in the x-ray picture.


After learning this, how do you EVER take another vitamin pill again?

Of course not, you’ll reach for the sprayable ones every time. (And if we do things right, they’ll be brand our sprayable vitamins.)

Once you put that idea in someone’s brain, it’s incredibly hard to get it out.

Here’s another example:

When I wrote a campaign for a direct to consumer watch company, I used an undeniable truth.

I illustrated the problem of buying watches from a store by explaining industry markups that every retailer, distributor and wholesale added on to the price. I showed how most watches are sold at a 30–40x markup.

After hearing that, how do you ever go and buy a watch from a store, knowing you’re getting ripped off that badly?

Another one:

I wrote an email campaign for a company that sold meat through the mail.

I explained how it’s perfectly legal for chicken companies to inject saline solution into their meat. As much as 35% of the weight of the chicken is allowed to be saline. That means ⅓ of the chicken you’re buying is water that’s getting cooked out.

You’re paying for water.

You’re really only getting ⅔ the chicken you actually pay for.

My client’s company did NOT engage in this practice.

How do you ever go back and buy chicken from a regular grocery store again? How do you ignore this fact and continue to buy against your best interests?

It’s very hard for the brain to reconcile this situation.

Here’s the most important part of this whole inception thing:

Once you present the benefits of a certain decision in a certain context, and you also present an undeniable truth… you need to let some time pass.

Here’s why:

Once this information slips into someone’s subconscious… you need to let that idea marinate in their brain for a while. You need to let it seep all the way in.

While their conscious mind is thinking about other, immediate problems, their subconscious is going to work in the background to sort out all the other inputs in their brain… including the information you just planted there.

People always act emotional first, then see things more logical once their emotions have cooled down a bit.

This “time off” allows your ideas to grow in their mind. Eventually, they forget who gave them the idea… and they think they arrived at this conclusion all on their own.

And that’s a good thing.

Because people are always bigger fans of their OWN ideas and conclusions they arrived at by themselves.

Is this sneaky?


Is it effective?


Is it ethical?

I think so.

People are resistant to change, even if that change will benefit them.

Remember: people are irrational.

So I think it’s important to use any weapon in your arsenal in order to help them help themselves.

As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to say NOT using every weapon in your arsenal to help someone is the unethical behavior. And if you know your product or service can help someone, then it’s your duty to get it in their hands.

Now it’s your turn.

Go try this out.

Instead of trying to beat someone over the head with benefits or reasons… take an alternate route.

Plant an idea in someone’s head and let them arrive at the conclusion you intended for them.

You won’t get credit… but you’ll get your way.

Try it out and let me know how it goes.

Have fun.

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Chris Orzechowski

Chris Orzechowski

Author. Speaker. E-commerce Email Marketing Expert. Aspiring Wine Snob