If there was ever a book I wanted to rip the cover off and leave home while out in public, Seducing Strangers by Josh Weltman was it. The title, though it appropriately reflects the central theme and adheres to one of Weltman's fundamental principles of persuasion, is a bit risque and was hard to explain to the few passersby who asked.
Even so, the lessons learned far outweighed the slight discomfort I felt in public. This book stands out as one of few books whose principles, stories, and experiences are a mandatory read for any modern business owner or entrepreneur, let alone advertising professional at who this book seems to be aimed.
The Don Draper Art of Persuasion
Seducing Strangers: How to Get People to Buy What You’re Selling (The Little Black Book of Advertising Secrets) wastes no time in letting you know it was written by the brains behind the character of Don Draper in the hit TV show Mad Men. If you have seen the series, that alone may be enough to convince you to buy the book. If you haven’t, the fact that Josh Weltman is a 25-year veteran of the creative advertising world should.
In Mad Men, Don Draper is a fictional advertising genius, finding the truth in his client’s product and messaging it to their customers in the most brilliant way. It's no surprise that the man behind this genius has decades of experience which he's boiled down into brief chapters describing the very principles used in the show and throughout his career.
Fundamentally, this book teaches the principles of persuasion. In four parts and nearly 50 chapters, you can expect to gain an understanding of how to create a message that influences your customer to act. You will learn to stop selling what your product does and instead focus on the value your customer is buying. All of these lessons are backed by case studies supporting the core principles discussing how and why they worked.
Despite the volume of chapters, the entire book is quite short. Each chapter covers a single principle in only a few pages making it easy to digest and providing ample opportunity to pause and reflect on what you learn. Volumes have been written on the subject of marketing and selling but, as a whole, the concepts in Seducing Strangers cover everything I can think of related to marketing, messaging, selling, and advertising in a concise and meaningful way.
(It’s nice to read a book where the author boils down each concept into brief, relevant stories that get right to the point.)
Some of you have been lucky enough to work at a company with a fantastic marketing department adhering to the principles written in Seducing Strangers. Many, like myself, have not. If you’re like me, the marketing you’ve been exposed to revolved around selling features, experience, price and release dates.
I’ve personally seen press release after press release blasted out discussing how my company was number one, how our features were better than the competition, how our product was coming to market first, etc. After over a decade of this, I’ve learned one thing:
Having read this book, I can now understand why.
My assumption was that advertising was for billboards and everything else was called “selling.” My assumption was that persuasion was telling your customer about all the reasons why your product is better than what the next guy offers. They’ll make the correct decision, right?
Now, having read Seducing Strangers, it’s easy to look back and understand why our messaging wasn’t as effective as it could have been, or just outright didn’t work.
This book helped me understand that billboards are a medium on which to share your message, like television, print, and social media. It helped me understand how to use each medium to share the right message at the right time. Most importantly, this book helped me see that the message I take to my customers must reveal the truth about my product in a way that shows them how it will make their life better, easier, or more entertaining.
Here's The Bottom Line
If you are a sales professional trying to get people to purchase what you’re selling; if you are in marketing looking for the right message to build a customer base and grow your market; if you are an entrepreneur looking for that enticing elevator pitch that has investors and potential customers lining up behind your business idea; or if you are a business owner trying to understand why your customers are not buying and what you can do about it, you need to buy and read this book immediately.
As you read through it, chapter by chapter, you will learn how to use words, images, stories, and music in a way to persuade your customers to buy into your product, your people, and your brand.
For me, that guidance has been invaluable. I believe it will be the same for you.