Presuppositions are powerful, subtle suggestion tools. Used well, they can entice consumers to buy your product or service and even make them think the decision was their own idea. We use presuppositions every day in our conversations even if we may not call them by name. It’s time you put this tool to work for you in your marketing copy.
What is a presupposition?
A presupposition is a linguistic term to describe something that is implied or taken for granted in the course of a conversation. For example, if someone asked you if John stopped drinking beer, the listener would assume that John once drank beer. Or, if he asked you if Mary is going to the beach again, it implies that Mary has visited the beach at least once before.
Presuppositions are the foundation of hypnosis. When the person hypnotizing someone says things like “as you relax, your eyes are getting heavier,” you assume that these two things are tied together. Hypnosis and marketing are both about the power of persuasion.
Using presuppositions in marketing
Using presuppositions in marketing assumes that the buyer is going along with your ideas and arguments. The key to using presuppositions well in your marketing and advertising copy is subtly. When the telemarketer asks you “will you be using Visa or MasterCard” before you’ve agreed to the purchase, that’s a (not very subtle) presupposition that you’re going to buy the product. In your marketing copy, you can do better than that. Here’s how:
1. Assume the customer is going to buy (but nicely). It’s perfectly acceptable to use presuppositions in your marketing copy. You just need to be subtle to avoid coming off as hucksterish. For example, say things like:
- Before you sign up for our newsletter, be sure to peruse some of the back copies. (assumes you’re going to sign up for the newsletter)
- When you replace your refrigerator, consider our energy-efficient XYZ model. (assumes you will be replacing your refrigerator)
- After your son graduates, repaint his room with our semi-glass paint. (assumes your son will graduate and move out of his room)
Adverbs like before, after and when are particularly useful when using presuppositions in marketing.
2. Make open comparisons. Making open comparisons, such as “our new product is more reliable,” implies that the product is reliable without showing what you are comparing it to. That “as compared to (what)” is implied.
3. Use presuppositions judiciously. Using presuppositions in marketing can gently guide your customer to make a purchase or take over again. However, it’s best to use this technique with clients or prospects with whom you already have a rapport. Presuppositions can easily be misjudged by prospective clients who don’t know you. Good uses include using them with your past client list or with a list of prospective clients who have already taken an action, such as signing up for a free eBook or newsletter.
Presuppositions are another effective tool to include in your marketing arsenal. By using them correctly–and subtly–you can increase your response and closure rates and entice browser and shoppers to go ahead and make that purchase.