Before the days of business psychology, form letters for the purpose of securing business from those addressed used to begin something like this:
“DEAR MR. BLANK:
“We beg to announce that we have on hand a very large stock of bicycles, which we desire to close out as early as possible.”
Consciously or unconsciously, the recipient of this letter would say to himself: “What in thunder is that to me? I have no particular interest in this fellow’s stock of bicycles. I do not care whether his stock is large or small, nor do I care whether he wants to sell it or not.” And the form letter would go into the waste basket. Nowadays, however, we have learned better and our form letter would begin something like this:
“DEAR MR. BLANK:
“What would it be worth to you to have the freedom of movement, the open air, the healthful exercise, and the enjoyment of the beauties of nature which are all placed easily within your reach by the possession of a bicycle?”
The recipient of this letter immediately pictures to himself time saved in going to and from work, in running errands, in paying visits. He also has visions of increased health—perhaps freedom from the headaches that have been troubling him—pictures of long rides upon air-shod wheels over smooth boulevards and through leafy lanes.
Do you get it? The writer of that letter makes the reader think about himself. He knows that the latter is more interested in himself than in any other human being in the world and that he is more interested in human beings than he is in anything else. This is the key to the arousing of interest. Make the man think about himself in connection with what you have to offer.
But different people think about themselves in entirely different ways. The glutton thinks of his stomach; the scholar of his knowledge; the athlete of his prowess, and the seeker after power, of his ambitions. Those who seek to persuade others by scientific means will learn to determine in just what way each individual is most interested in himself. Then his task will be to make every individual whom he seeks to persuade think, as he best likes to think, of himself and, at the same time, in close connection, think of the idea or the article or the proposition offered.
Suppose he were trying to persuade a man of the intellectual type to purchase a life insurance policy. After having gained favorable attention, his further argument might be along these lines: “Your greatest asset is in your mental power. With your intellect you can accomplish what it would take a hundred men a year to accomplish with their hands. In fact, with your intellect you can accomplish what no number