Instant Appeal: The 8 Primal Factors That Create Blockbuster Success [NOOK Book]


"Based on extensive sociological, biological, and anthropological research, Instant Appeal reveals the eight primal factors that trigger responses deep in our DNA and cause us to develop an unwavering allegiance to a product, a person, or a cause. These universal codes of appeal can be applied to everything from politics to pop culture to consumer products, and author Vicki Kunkel reveals the often surprising secrets of persuasion that they wield - secrets that have long been used successfully by top companies, million-dollar motivational
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Instant Appeal: The 8 Primal Factors That Create Blockbuster Success

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"Based on extensive sociological, biological, and anthropological research, Instant Appeal reveals the eight primal factors that trigger responses deep in our DNA and cause us to develop an unwavering allegiance to a product, a person, or a cause. These universal codes of appeal can be applied to everything from politics to pop culture to consumer products, and author Vicki Kunkel reveals the often surprising secrets of persuasion that they wield - secrets that have long been used successfully by top companies, million-dollar motivational speakers, election-winning politicians, and top-notch lawyers - to advance their businesses and careers." An exploration of the hidden causes underlying the choices we make, Instant Appeal is an eye-opening look at what really works and what doesn't when it comes to making impressions and getting the results you want.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kunkel, a communications consultant, posits that the most persuasive and powerful icons and brands owe their success to an uncanny ability to appeal to one or more cultural and biological universals, our species' emotional and behavioral responses to certain stimuli (for example, the need for security and comfort, distrust of classically beautiful people). Unfortunately, Kunkel's evidence of these universals is vague and speculative-referring to research into the effect of sound waves on cellular structure, she asserts that just as plants dislike heavy metal music and uncooked rice thrives on compliments, "our body processes are altered" by sound waves-and she advises her readers to speak in rhythms that resonate on a cellular level. The author's appeal to science that is either clearly marginal or only vaguely related to her conclusions, along with her tendency to label as "universal" a wide gamut of folk beliefs and obviously culturally determined phenomena (such as the effect of certain words that have no meaning outside of the speaker's linguistic community), make even the more reasonable arguments in the book seem suspect. In the end, the author overreaches her grasp, producing a marketing guide that is unlikely to convince practical readers. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher

“…densely packed compendium of fascinating observations about human behavior and hypotheses on how to market people, ideas, and things.” --Graziadio Business Report

“…a winner…a 'must' for any business library strong in marketing psychology.” -- Midwest Book Review

“… anyone from salespeople to senior management can take something away from Kunkel's research.” -- Houston Business Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814410219
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 11/26/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 434 KB

Meet the Author

Vicki Kunkel (Aurora, IL) is a nationally recognized expert on the subject of mass appeal and the CEO of Vicki Kunkel International. She received the “Women with Vision” award from the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois for her breakthrough research on mass appeal and the success she’s had in applying it to court cases, social causes, and product launches.

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Read an Excerpt


An Introduction to Instant Appeal

Judy was depressed. She recently left her six-figure C-suite executive job at a large downtown financial services company that she held for over 15 years to start a boutique furniture store. It boasted high-end, ultramodern couches, chairs, tables, end tables, nightstands, and art in a hip section of the city. As we sat eating lunch, she told me the reason for being so bummed: Six weeks after her grand opening, she hadn't sold a single piece of furniture.

"I don't know what's wrong!" Judy sighed. "I did my market research and the products and pricing should be right in line. The people who come into the store seem to be the right demographic. What's going on? I know the economy isn't the greatest right now, but my customers have a pretty healthy disposable income. I can't afford not to have this work out! I put everything I have into this."

As she talked on, she told me that customers would come into the store, walk around the entire space, even stop and, as she said, "look at something, pretending to be interested," then would ultimately leave without buying anything.

Because I had helped her former company successfully implement primal branding techniques—marketing strategies that align with our innate preferences and fixed primal triggers—she thought I may be able to offer some advice. But the first thing I needed to do was visit her store.

On a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon, I walked up the sidewalk to her storefront. The signage was fantastic, the curb appeal was great, and the window displays were well done. As I stepped across the threshold, a perky sales clerk bounded up to me. "Welcome! My name is Susan. Is there anything in particular you're looking for today?" a explained that I hadn't been to the store before and was "just looking."

"Oh, okay. Well, if you need anything, my name is Susan. Just come and find me. Here's a brochure to look at in the meantime. And again, my name is Susan." a hung out for a while near the front door to see how Susan greeted other store visitors. After about ten minutes of observation, I had a pretty good idea of what was causing Judy's customers not to buy. It had to do with lizards. That's right. Lizards.

When certain lizards encounter a foreboding predator, they have a peculiar way of fleeing. They don't just run and hide. Often, the lizard puts a lot of bravado into its escape. He actually lets the predator know where he is by thrashing around and making a lot of noise as he runs—often passing right by potential refuges before hiding.1

Why? To signal to the predator that there's no need to chase the lizard, because he has the ability to escape. The lizard is in effect saying to the predator: "Here I am. Catch me if you can, but because you can't, don't even bother."

That noisy and long escape dance is an innate response. The lizard didn't think about it and it's not a learned response; he instinctively knows that his best defense is to make the predator think it can't catch him. It's a primal trigger within the lizard that causes him to react the way he does to predators. That's not unlike the innate reactions customers had to Judy's sales reps.

Susan and her sales colleague, Bruce, did the same little welcoming ritual with each store visitor that Susan did with me. The customer reactions were fascinating—and universal. When Susan or Bruce simply said, "Welcome. Is there anything in particular you're looking for today?" customers would usually smile and pleasantly say, "No, just looking," or "No thank you." But something happened when the sales reps continued with the rest of the spiel ("If you need anything, my name is Susan/Bruce. Just come and find me. In the meantime, here's a brochure."). The customers would raise their voices slightly (making more noise), take on a more terse tone, and walk more quickly—away from the sales rep. But they didn't just turn and walk out of the store, they—as Judy had described—would make one round around the store first. As they were walking away from Susan or Bruce, they would usually curtly say something along the lines of, "I'll let you know if I want anything," or "Oh-KAY!" A few were terse with words as well as tone: "Let me guess; you're on commission." They were letting the sales associates know that they couldn't be "caught" and wouldn't put up with a pushy sales rep. In every case the customers' tone got terser, and they walked away from the sales associate as fast as they could. Only a handful took the brochure that was offered.

Judy's customers—and the lizard—all exhibited what ethologists call a fixed action pattern (FAP) response—an intricate sequence of behaviors set in motion by a trigger feature. A trigger can be specific words, sounds, colors, actions, visual patterns, gestures, or even the beauty or ugliness of a person or object. An example of a fixed action pattern response is yawning; when we see someone yawn, we almost always yawn, too. But it's not the yawner who makes us yawn; it's a yawning trigger within each of us that makes us yawn. This innate, genetically programmed trigger feature gets switched on every time we see someone yawn. The yawning trigger is not a learned behavior—just as the customers' reactions to Susan and Bruce were not learned behaviors—but instead part of a primal trigger response mechanism. A salesperson who is trying too hard is a predator to a customer. And, just like the lizard, customers run from the predator—in this case, the sales associate.

When I told Judy that her welcoming-committee-on-steroids was chasing away customers because of the negative fixed action pattern response that they triggered in store visitors, she was stunned. She told me that the main reason she wanted greeters at the door was to make sure every customer was personally handed a brochure that they would take with them. Fair enough. But rather than create a negative fixed response, why not create a positive fixed response in her customers? Judy wanted to know how to do that. To illustrate, I gave Judy a one-question multiple-choice quiz. I asked: Which of these statements would you most positively respond to if you were a customer coming into the store? (a)"Please take a brochure. It has information about our store that we'd like you to have." (b)"May I offer you this brochure because we'd like you to have more information about our new store?" (c)"This brochure contains more information about our store. May I offer you one?"

"I liked the second one," Judy said.


"Uh, I'm not sure. It just sounds better for some reason."

The reason option (b) sounds better to Judy is because of another primal fixed response, this one in reaction to a specific trigger word—a word that instantly induces an innate and automatic response

In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., talks about a famous experiment conducted by Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer. In her 1978 study, Langer set out to see under what conditions people would allow her to cut into a long line at a copy machine. She tested four different ways of asking permission.2

Here are the first two:

"Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?"

"Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?"

Only 60 percent of the people asked let her cut in line with the first request. But when she provided a reason as to why she wanted to cut in line, 94 percent allowed her to cut in.

Langer wanted to see if the reason or simply the word because was the trigger that caused people to grant her the favor. So she decided to try the experiment again, using the word because and citing a not-so-good reason for wanting to cut in line. Here's what she asked:

"Excuse me, I wonder if I could ask you a favor. May I skip ahead of you in line because I have to make some copies?"

The reason was not a good one, because everyone in line had to make copies. Yet 93 percent of the people she asked let her skip ahead of them in the line. Even when the reason is bogus, the trigger word because elicits an automatic and innate response to grant the favor! The response mechanism to this trigger is so engrained that even a silly reason gets a positive response in many cases.

Judy had her sales associates offer customers a brochure and use the word because in the request. Store visitors seemed more receptive to the sales associates, and they browsed the store in a more leisurely manner.

But it wasn't enough just to have the sales associates use the trigger word because in their greeting as customers came in the door; they also had to make sure they used it in their sales pitches to customers. Simple phrases such as, "You'd really like this couch because it is made of Italian leather," or "This glass table would look great in your home because the design will go with any décor," resulted in a 39 percent increase in sales in just the first two weeks that these primal trigger words were used regularly with customers.

Trigger words are part of what I call the instant appeal response: positive, predictable actions that people take in response to a specific trigger. Cialdini talks at length in his book about the fixed action pattern response. But there's more to instant appeal than FAPs. And this book is not about FAPs at all. (Dr. Cialdini explains FAPs far better than anyone else could!) I bring up FAPs here only to illustrate that much of our response to things in our environment is the product of anthropological conditioning and is rooted deep in our DNA. Instant appeal taps into many other primal secrets—such as human universals—that have been previously unexplored in the context of mass appeal.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 An Introduction to Instant Appeal 1

Ch. 2 Ducklings, Defects, and Devotion: The Conspicuous Flaw Factor 19

Ch. 3 Does It Look Like a Duck? The Visual Preprogramming Factor 51

Ch. 4 Small Dogs, Big SUVs, and the Failure of Epcot: The Reptilian Comfort Factor in Consumer Choices 77

Ch. 5 Gaining Power and Loyalty Through Attraction and Repulsion: The Sacred Cow and Jackass Factors 117

Ch. 6 Words, Names, and Story Lines with Addictive Appeal: The Biology of Language Factor (Or Why Agatha Christie Novels, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Young and the Restless Get Under Our Skin) 151

Ch. 7 Good Vibrations: The Biotuning Factor for Career Success 182

Ch. 8 What Our Minds Really See: The Mental Real Estate Factor 224

Ch. 9 The Lessons of Instant Appeal: How Moral Entrepreneurs Use the Eight Primal Factors to Engineer a Crisis 253

Notes 260

Acknowledgments 283

Index 287

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  • Posted January 13, 2009

    Instantly Appealing

    An intriguing and informative read for marketers, salespeople, and anyone in business and in life who wishes to learn more about the key underlying triggers that drive a person's decision-making process. Master these techniques and make your product or yourself Instantly Appealing!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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