Curiosity — If You Have It, You Have a Chance

This is the fourth article in our series on Claude Hopkins’ advertising class Scientific Advertising. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first article in this series, check it out here.

Curiosity — Accessing the Mainframe

Hopkins begins his chapter on psychology by making the simple claim that anyone interested in advertising must also take an interest in psychology.

Things haven’t changed much in terms of base human psychology over the past millennia, so spending a bit of time learning about human behaviour can pay massive dividends throughout your future advertising campaigns.


So what do you need to learn?

First, that curiosity is one of the most effective triggers for developing attraction to your product. Curiosity puts the customer’s brain into overdrive–what is this, what’s it about, how does it do that, I’ve never seen that before, etc.

Tapping into this innate drive for the mind to ratchet up its thoughts when encountering novelty is why advertising departments go through great lengths to develop novel commercials and thought-provoking advertisements.

When our brains are locked into this heightened state of thought creation, we’re more open to receiving new ideas and emotions–we’ve moved closer to a clean slate, a more suggestive state.

Curiosity also relates directly to our previous article on headlines. If you’r headline isn’t creating some sense of curiosity in the reader, then they’re very unlikely to pursue your advertisement any further.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my ad making my customers curious about?
  • Can I develop this curiosity further?
  • What things will inhibit my customers from really getting engaged with my product?
  • How can my call to action(s) leverage this curiosity for future ventures?

These are just few of the questions that one can focus on when thinking about curiosity and how it really drives customers to learn and explore.

A few more questions to keep in mind…

What was the last piece of technology that you were really excited about? What kind of things did you want to know about it? Did you want just purely text-based information or did you want access to videos as well? And how can you provide these avenues for customer engagement without eradicating their curiosity?

In other words, how can you maintain curiosity right up to the moment they purchase the product and even beyond?

The Psychology of Ownership

Hopkins also recognized that a personal attachment to a product increases one’s desire for it. If an object becomes something that one not only wants, but feels to be a part of one’s very being, then chances are a purchase is going to be made.

Hopkins uses the example of a company selling books that decides to offer their customers free engravings of their name:

“When a man knows that something belongs to them – something with his name on – he will make an effort to get it, even though the thing is a trifle.”

It doesn’t take much to see this principle at work in modern advertising: customized coke cans, engraved iPhones, calendars bearing children’s names.

The stronger the level of personal identification with a product, the stronger the urge to buy. And what’s more personal than seeing your own name on a product? Hopkins knew this, and advertising campaigns to this day continue to leverage this knowledge.

Referencing those people who are excluded from using a product can be effective as well. Exclusivity can be just as powerful as personalization. By stating that a certain group gets preferred treatment–Hopkins uses the examples of veterans, executives, or club members–one once again develops an attachment to it. As Hopkins explains, “Those who are entitled to any seeming advantage will go a long way not to lose that advantage.”

For your next advertising venture, think about how you can create a sense of exclusivity–or even use the very idea of exclusivity as a foil for your product, i.e. what was once only available to a select few is now available to everyone. One pertinent example of this can be found in advertisements for high-end cooking supplies–“X, until recently, was only available at high-end restaurants, and now you can achieve the same technique at home at a fraction of the cost.”

Hopkins closes his chapter on psychology by appealing once again for the reader to adopt a scientific viewpoint towards customer psychology:

“There are endless phases to psychology. Some people know them by instinct. Many of them are taught by experience. But we learn most of them from others. When we see one winning method we note it down for use when occasion offers.”

Be curious about the advertisements you see online. How are they different from what you’ve seen previously, and how are they the same? Being able to not only ask these questions, but to answer them as well, is key to developing the kind of scientific advertising favoured by Hopkins.

The next article in this series will take up Hopkins’ ideas about ad specificity. If you haven’t had a chance to start at the beginning of this series, you can click here for an introduction.


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