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Contrast Killed The Cat: How Using Contrast Puts Your Persuasion On Steroids

Contrast is one of the strongest psychological drivers for helping your brand make more sales.

Great art has contrast. The best literature uses contrast — sometimes called juxtaposition. A classic example is the whole, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” phrase from Charles Dickens’s “A Tale Of Two Cities.”

In psychology, there’s something called “the contrast effect,” which creates a “brainworm.” A good example of this is when there’s an image of a grey square surrounded by black and white. Even though they’re the exact same color, the grey square looks darker on a lighter background and looks lighter on a darker background.

Check it out:

example of contrast effect — and why contrast is so psychologically powerful in marketing, sales, and copywriting

But contrast is also baked into the human psyche. A few examples include:

* Sweet drinks taste sweeter when you drink them after something less sweet. And they taste less sweet after eating something more sweet.

* People tend to feel more attractive after looking at pictures of less attractive people. And they feel less attractive after looking at pictures of more attractive people.

And this is even why some of the best supplement and alternative health brands have ugly brands. Ugly stands out in a world full of beauty. (And this also applies to plain-text emails, which we discussed here.)

However, the most powerful and effective form of contrast is when making sales...

Because Contrast Creates A “Brainworm” People Can’t Get Rid Of Until They Try Your Product!

You know how you listen to a certain song or melody and it gets stuck in your head for hours? We call this an “earworm.”

Well, the same thing happens when you inject contrast into your sales copy, landing pages, emails, and any other copy on your website or packaging.

The only difference is that this “brainworm” is far more powerful than an earworm. It sticks around longer. And it’s especially persuasive when you have a good understanding of your audience, their pain points, and twist the knife like we discussed here.

Let’s say you sell a weight loss supplement and your target audience is people who are more than 100 lbs overweight.

Now let’s also say you know your audience has tried every weight loss tactic, diet, and pill under the sun with nothing to show for it.

They tried exercising 2 hours per day.

They tried keto, paleo, Weight Watchers, and vegan.

They tried intermittent fasting. Only eating one meal a day.

This list could go on forever.

Knowing this, you could write a subject line, headline, or bullet copy (for a sales page or email — more on using bullets in a later article) like this:

How To Melt 20 Pounds of Stubborn Fat By Eating More and Exercising Less

Notice how this immediately demands your attention? It's even more effective on your ideal client.

Most dieting programs preach eating fewer calories and exercising more are the ONLY ways to lose weight. This headline contrasts that notion — making it more persuasive than Barack Obama and Donald Trump combined. (Whatever you think of them, they’re both persuasive.)

Writing a headline, sales copy, bullet copy, or subject line like that sticks out like a sore thumb in your readers’ brains. They simply MUST find out the answer. Meaning, they have to open your email and order your product or else this “brainworm” haunts them forever.


Because contrast creates curiosity and intrigue. Which are psychologically powerful on their own. But they’re also the complete opposite of boredom — which is the death of any sale.

Even injecting a little bit of contrast makes your sales balloon. (That sentence in itself bathes in contrast — because of “little bit” and “balloon.”)

So how then do you get better at filling your copy with contrast?

First, I’ll explain this to you. Then I’ll give you some real life examples I’ve written for my clients.

Let’s boogie…

How To Inject Contrast Into Your Copy To Put Your Sales On Steroids

Like anything else in life, the best way to get better at using contrast is by practicing.

It’s a good idea to try to write 5 subject lines a day that drip with contrast.

You can contrast words — like make more money by working less.

You can contrast ideas — why deadlifting twice a week quadruples your business. (Exercising and business usually don’t go together, creating this contrast.)

You can even contrast time — how a recently rediscovered ancient herb helps modern people melt their stress away.

And there are a lot more ways to inject contrast into your sales copy.

The key thing to remember is you want to shoot for two ideas that don’t relate. All the examples above do this.

Here are a few real life examples I’ve written for my clients in the supplements and alternative health space:

* why eating LESS makes you heavier

* The weirdest way to burn fat while watching TV

* How looking at a red wall can make you lift more weight during workouts

* 10 “pseudo-scientific” wellness-enhancement techniques that actually work

* How to burn fat by stuffing your face

* The weird way becoming too strong can make you weaker

* The lazy person’s guide to melting fat

* The counterintuitive reason taking more rest days makes you stronger

* How to boost your metabolism by pigging out

* Why light therapy is the best way to alleviate your breathing, lower back, and lung tissue problems

Each of these examples drips with contrast and…

Spawned A Truckload Of Opens, Click-Throughs, And Sales!

Best part?

Using these kinds of subject lines work better than offering discounts or having sales in every email promotion.

And you can start doing this in your emails and sales copy too. But if you need help, set up a discovery call with me using the link below:

Once I understand your unique situation, I can figure out if we’re a good fit. And if we are, we can strategize an action plan and help you make more sales with email.

But I’m not always accepting new clients.

If you tried to book something, but the link didn’t work, use the link below to join my waiting list and you’ll be the first to know when a new client spot opens up.

Join my waitlist here (if the link above doesn't work):

John Brandt

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