Book Summary: Fascinate by Sally Hogshead

Quick Summary: In the book Fascinate, you’ll find examples of fascination triggers used by well-known brands. There is also a three-step plan to adapt these triggers to your company’s needs.

The author Sally Hogshead breaks down the “triggers” of fascination as follows: Lust, Mystery, Alarm, Prestige, Power, Vice, and Confidence, and explains that if you can master these, you can reach your full persuasive potential.

This is less difficult than you might think because we all possess the ability to fascinate. Surprisingly, we all use these triggers unconsciously every day.

You don’t have to read the whole book if you don’t have time. This summary will provide you with an overview of everything you can learn from this book.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Lesson 1: Whenever we anticipate pleasure, we feel lust; it also makes us act irrationally

So you have been invited to a dinner party. You look at the table as the evening draws to a close and notice that there is only one chocolate left. No one else seems interested, but you do not want to be the one to take the initiative and take it for yourself. You try to ignore it, but the thought of the chocolate melting on your tongue keeps popping into your head.

Why do you feel this need? Desire.

The desire for satisfaction is the essence of lust. Moreover, this feeling of anticipation is often much stronger than the feeling we have when our desire is finally satisfied.

The scientists scanned the monkeys’ heads while feeding them a single grape. When the monkeys saw the grape, their brain activity increased, the researchers documented. When the monkey picked up the grape, the stimulation increased.

However, the stimulation subsided after the monkey consumed the grape. Actually eating the grape was not nearly as exciting as thinking about it.

The potency of sexual desire cannot be denied. So it’s not surprising that it can lead people to make irrational decisions that a company can turn to its advantage.

Companies intentionally arouse desire in their customers so that they will pay inflated prices for clothing. This is achieved by associating the purchase of these items with a positive emotional experience.

For example, a jacket might be made of a material that feels wonderful against the skin. Customers feel good when they see and touch this jacket in the store.

So this jacket captivates the customer and they will whip out their credit card to buy it, even if the store is filled to the brim with cheaper alternatives.

In short, lust makes us disregard our better judgment and act in ways we would normally avoid.

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Lesson 2: A mystery fascinates us, as we love solving unsolved mysteries

Unsolved murders fascinate us, whether we read a “crime novel” or just the morning news.

In the absence of solid facts, our minds and curiosity race toward possible explanations. But what’re the causes?

Mystery is the right answer; it’s one of the seven factors that can arouse a person’s interest.

When we’ve no explanation for something, we become curious. To satisfy our insatiable curiosity and fill the knowledge gap, we often set out to find the solution or answer ourselves.

This longing is so strong that it can be exploited for commercial purposes; for example, some companies have focused their entire marketing campaigns on the idea of mystery.

Take Coca-Cola as an example. For decades, urban legends have swirled around the company’s soft drink and its secret recipe. Coca-Cola fans are fascinated by the product because there’s constant speculation about the secret recipe, even though the company refuses to reveal the secret.

Many companies succeed by limiting customer access to their products or services in order to increase the aura of mystery.

One such company is Crustacean in Los Angeles, where its dish of garlic crab has gained wide appeal. In fact, people come from far and wide to try it.

So what exactly is it about this dish that’s everyone so intrigued? The secret. Only a select group of chefs have access to the secret preparation room for the dish, which has been set up in the main kitchen. This ensures that the recipe for this dish remains a closely guarded secret.

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Lesson 3: Whenever something threatens or alarms us, we are fascinated by it

Since filing taxes isn’t one of most people’s favorite things to do, it’s not surprising that many people put it off until the last minute. When you realize that you only have two days left to file your tax return, the form and the process of filling it out suddenly become fascinating.

And why? Because fear makes you curious, and fear makes you curious when you sense the danger of serious consequences.

We don’t always react to the biggest threat, but to the one that most concerns us at the moment.

Take this as an example: images of horrific car accidents caused by drunk drivers were shown in an advertising campaign to discourage young people from drinking alcohol and driving.

Although the goal of the campaign was to discourage underage drinking and driving, the opposite was achieved.

And why?

Because the young people weren’t deterred by the prospect of death. They didn’t even think about it because it wasn’t relevant to their daily lives.

When other activists realized this, they launched a campaign pointing out another, less obvious risk: losing your driver’s license if you’re caught drinking and driving.

This alternative campaign was surprisingly more successful because teen drivers as a group were more fearful of losing their licenses than they were of being caught in an accident or seriously injured.

So how can companies use the alert button to increase revenue? Approaching an appointment is one method.

Let’s say you’re watching a teleshopping channel, but you’re not particularly interested in the products they’re selling. Our vacuum cleaners are very popular, but there are only 50 left, so don’t hesitate!” might pique your interest.

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Lesson 4: Prestige is a promise of elevated rank and respect in society

Have you ever noticed that the covers of glossy magazines often feature extremely rich people driving swanky sports cars and living in mansions?

Then you may have wondered why these programs and publications are so widespread.

Why do we find prestige so fascinating? Because it satisfies our desire to feel “better” or more valuable than other people.

Companies are always ready to exploit the fact that people act irrationally in their pursuit of prestige.

They do this, for example, by making a product scarcer on the market in order to make it seem more expensive and more desirable.

Even if this prestige trigger causes your products to become unaffordable for many consumers, quality always trumps quantity when it comes to prestige.

You may wonder why a Michael Kors handbag is so much more expensive and desirable than one from H&M. The reason is that most people cannot afford a Kors bag because of its high price.

Of course, the vast majority of people cannot afford this handbag, but if you’re one of the lucky few who can, you may feel superior because of it.

Using brand logos or symbols on goods is another way for companies to create prestige. In this way, consumers can flaunt their attachment to a particular brand and enjoy the status that comes with owning a luxury item, such as wearing designer clothing with the designer’s label prominently displayed.

The same strategy is used internally by companies to promote brand loyalty among employees.

The cosmetics company Mary Kay provides its top executives with a pink Cadillac, which serves as a status symbol and incentive to stay with the company. Pride in one’s achievements can spur a top performer to work even harder to maintain that status.

Another benefit of this strategy is the motivation it offers potential employees to join a particular company. The idea of being among the few who own a pink Cadillac appeals to workers because of the status it brings.

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