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How to Use Ethical Mind Control to Maximize Sales



6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


First impressions last. Especially when you’re getting started in business. It’s your only shot at getting someone’s interest for long enough to read your copy and take the next step before that person clicks away, never to see you again.

For most of us, the first impression is usually some social-proof metric: X followers, Y subscribers and so on. Perhaps, if we’re lucky, the viewer will get past that number to read a bio that says “I help ‘blank’ achieve ‘blank’ without ‘blank.'” Just like every other bio they’ve glanced at today. And you’ve successfully lost the prospect.

But what if you could control the way your prospects think about you during that first impression? Instead of judging the number of followers you have, what if they saw how you could help them? What if they were inspired to work with you, specifically?

This is what I call ethical mind control: engineering the way a prospect views you in his or her first impression, to get him or her to think a certain way about you.

It can shortcut your success by injecting trust and authority into this new relationship instead of letting your prospect fixate on your follower count. I call it ethical because you’re using it to build a relationship with your prospect, rather than to deceive him or her. However, this tactic can be used for evil, if you’re so inclined.

This form of ethical mind control is also called a pre-frame. And it’s used by successful negotiators, politicians and marketers around the world to control every interaction and get their desired outcome.

Related: How to Use Marketing to Outsell Your Competition Every Time

What is a pre-frame?

The idea of a pre-frame comes from a study performed at MIT, where a substitute professor lectured an economics class. The students were given one of two biographies of the substitute beforehand: A “good” bio or a “bad” bio. After the lecture, the students were asked to rate and review the speaker’s performance. And the results of this experiment lead us to the pre-frame.

The study found that the “bad” bio elicited negative ratings and scathing remarks from the students. Yet, the “good” bio elicited raving reviews. All of the students sat through the same lecture, yet their interpretation was completely different. For example, where one student reported that the speaker was rude, interrupting people who asked questions, others saw his passion for the topic.

The quality of the lecture was (unknowingly to the students) framed based on the bio they read beforehand. In other words, they were pre-framed to think a certain way about this speaker. And through this pre-frame, the outcome was arranged.

The best pre-frame for new businesses

There is an old saying I like that goes like this: “If you’re good at something, you tell others. If you’re great at something, others tell you.”

Intuitively, we know it to be true it instantly conjures memories of old friends who brag about everything they used to be good at. Sure they were good, but they were never great.

Arranging a pre-frame is similar. It’s not just about writing a better bio or preparing prospects for the information they are about to receive. Technically, a pre-frame can be as subtle as matching the ad creative and copy to the landing page so that the prospect who clicks through the ad subconsciously feels like he or she landed in the right place. But that’s not what this article is about.

Instead of discussing small optimizations, I want to show you how the right pre-frame can earn the opt-in or make the sale before you even open your mouth to talk. It works because we intuitively know that “if you’re great at something, others tell you.”

To make your pre-frame more effective, you need someone else to do it on your behalf.

Ethical mind control

Here are some ways you can take advantage of ethical mind control in your business:

  • Speaker introduction. Being interviewed on podcasts is one of my favorite ways to generate traffic. The show host has built rapport with his or her audience over time and willingly shares that rapport with you. When the host introduces you, saying that that you’re an expert at what you do, you immediately gain credibility and trust with the audience. There is an opportunity here for podcast hosts to really lean into these introductions to make the best endorsement for their guest. And when done correctly, prospects in the audience will already be checking the description for the link to opt into your offer before the interview begins.

Related: 7 Tips for Getting Interviewed on Top Podcasts in Your Industry

  • Endorsement. But not just any testimonial. The most powerful endorsements are from people who the audience recognizes by name. The endorsements that you place on your website or landing page should aim to bolster your credibility in the promise that you make to new subscribers. What better way to get endorsements than by interacting with people in your industry through podcast interviews?
  • Referral. The pre-frame effect explains why referrals are so effective. There is so much information out there that we have to pass some amount of decision making off to our trusted friends. When friends share a result that they achieved with your system, it’s the easiest sale you’ll ever make. Not to mention the quality of the customer is usually as high as the customer who referred them.

Related: Want More Referrals? Here Are The Best Ways to Earn Them

When you’re early on in your business, speaking engagements are the place to start. What you’ll find is that the better your pre-frame is, the more your customer quality will increase. This will lead to better results, more endorsements and referrals. Of course, that leads to more opportunities to get speaking engagements and podcast interviews. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle that builds your credibility and helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Work smarter, not harder

It’s easy to get sucked into the “work harder” mentality, constantly trying to post more content, send more DMs and do whatever it takes to keep up with the Joneses. Especially when you’re just getting started in business. Ethical mind control offers a different opportunity: to work smarter, not harder. To earn more by doing less.

Use pre-frames to get their attention, then show them how you can change their lives.



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