Guest Post – Submodalities & Copywriting

Jamie Dixon( http://www.warmthonthesoul.com ) posted this as a comment.
I moved it to be an entire post:

Hey Harlan,

Great video on submodalities.

I was just thinking about your comments that submodalities are not really related to copywriting and it got me thinking about how copywriting is ALL about submodalities.

When people read writing on a page, whether it’s a webpage, a page in a book, a PDF or any other type of written content, they understand what’s been written by creating various internal representations about what’s being said (and also what’s not being said but might be implied or presupposed). These internal reprisentations each have submodalities of their own and when people read text they tend to do so using at least 3 modalities.

The strategy most people tend to use for reading is:
Ve(Visual External) – Ad (auditory dialog) – Vi (Visual Internal) – Ki (Kineasthetic Internal).

That is, they read the text that’s on the page and repeat it back to themselves inside their heads (some will note that this step isn’t required and is in someways a left over byproduct of a limited teaching method when it comes to reading), then they visualise what’s being talked about inside of their head and finally have some sort of feeling about what they’ve read.

The fact that people create internal representations that otherwise wouldn’t have been there is an indication that the text they’re reading is the trigger for them creating new things in their minds. The question is, how can you write in such a way that the images they create in their minds follow along with what you’d like them to experience.

One example I really like is as follows:

Two sentences:

“The man followed the woman in the dark”

Think about this for a moment and notice what kinds of pictures you make inside your head. Notice where the picture is, how big it is, how bright or dark it is, how close is the picture and and is it 2D or 3D? Now notice how it makes you feel. Are you excited? scared? intrigued? motivated? desiring more? and notice where the feeling begins, how intense it is, how it moves around your body.

Here’s the second sentence:

“The cloaked bandit skulked in the shaddows as he stalked the scarlet woman through the night”

Think about this for a moment and notice what kinds of pictures you make inside your head. Notice where the picture is, how big it is, how bright or dark it is, how close is the picture and and is it 2D or 3D? Now notice how it makes you feel. Are you excited? scared? intrigued? motivated? desiring more? and notice where the feeling begins, how intense it is, how it moves around your body.

Now when you think about the 2 different sentences and compare what’s different, what happens? Were the pictures different? Was one more detailed than the other, was one bigger than the other, was one closer than the other, were they in different locations? and the feelings, was one more intense than the other?, were the levels of intregue different for each one? did the feelings move in different ways?, and what else?

To me, the question isn’t really whether submodalities are related to copywriting, the question is how does what I write affect the types of things people do in their heads. How do I use adverbs, adjectives, presuppositions, modal opperators and how do I link different parts of the text together to create different structures in the minds of my readers.

I remember at a training course when we were first introduced to the idea that my simple body gestures we could change how people reprisented what we were talking about. We were asked to think of an apple and the trainer held his hands close together showing an average apple sized space between his fingers. Then he said “think of another apple” and as the same time, he moved his hands appart and made a gesture with the space about the size of his head. Guess what? The picture of the apple inside my head grew to be the size he indicated with his hands.

This is simply an indication that everything we do in communication affects how we reprisent what we’re hearing, seeing and experiencing. Submodalities exist with every internal reprisentation and depending on how we package our communication depends on how those reprisentations are experienced.

Thanks again for creating these fantastic videos Harlan. I like most things that get me thinking and I hope my reply had been of help either to yourself or others reading this.

Take care, Jamie

3 Comments

  1. Jamie –

    VERY well put! (I’m still seeing that humongous apple.)

    I agree with what Harlan says about the auditory aspect of copy (due to the process of subvocalisation)…

    But, as you suggest, it’s what we do AFTER the subvocalisation – the other (let’s say) “virtual senses” we bring into play as we “imagine” feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling – that may have the greater impact.

    Thanks Jamie, for an excellent post … and thank YOU, Harlan, for making a special effort to bring it to our attention!

    Cheers –
    Al H.

  2. great guest post, and made a very important point…

    It seems that if we can make our writing very specific, then we are in better control of the readers thought process. and if we can make it real,then it will carry greater weight… and persuade better…

    Rob

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