≡ Menu

Persuasion Secrets of a Sicilian Mafia Don: Part 1

“Luca Brasi put a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would appear on the contract.” – Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part 1

Wifey told me she still hadn’t seen The Godfather – a wrong I put right last weekend.

But I soon realised it had also been too long for ME.

Because Don Vito Corleone, the ruthless underworld anti-hero, is also a master of persuasion. I just hadn’t paid attention to his lessons until now.

You’ve probably heard Vito’s most powerful tactic: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” It’s a tongue-in-cheek statement. If they refuse, they die.

But your prospects can die several ways – not just a physical death. For instance…

They could die a social death: Maybe they’re at risk of losing something valuable and face public humiliation.

They could die a financial death: Their reputation as a provider is at stake.

They could die a psychological death: Maybe there’s a problem they cannot solve – no matter how hard they try. How long can they continue this way? What will happen to them if nothing ever changes?

You must know which death your prospect fears most. It’s crucial if you’re to deliver them ‘an offer they can’t refuse.’

However, there’s another aspect to Don Corleone’s offers which is easy to ignore.

His offers were also incredibly GENEROUS.

When Don Corleone wanted his singer godson, Johnny Fontane, to be released from a band contract, he didn’t start with the gun. First, he offered the band leader $10,000.

Only when his first offer was refused would Corleone switch from the carrot to the stick. That’s when he’d call Luca Brasi and put a gun to their head. He gave them a reason to act now.

A reason to act now is something I see missing in copy all too often.

You could have the most generous offer…sparkling copy…piling on the benefits – which are all relevant to the reader. It still might not do the job. Because people buy when it suits them, not you.

You must put a metaphorical gun to their head. This could mean:

  • Taking away a pile of bonuses after a certain time-limit
  • Closing the doors to your offer
  • Or talking about one of the other types of ‘death’ I mentioned earlier

In finance copy, you can put a gun to the customer’s head, simply by explaining the situation clearly – telling them what will happen if they do nothing.

A common fear amongst investment readers is the fear of missing out.

They want to ‘get in on the ground floor’ of a hot new opportunity. They don’t want to see the next Apple or Amazon skyrocket – only to tell people, “I had my chance with that. I missed it.”

Missing an opportunity is a social and financial death. It’s embarrassing. They will be more likely to act now if you show them how to avoid the death they fear.

Another fear is market changes. They don’t want to be caught clinging to the wrong stocks when the next bubble bursts. And they don’t want to be holding onto cash when inflation goes wild again.

Here’s a paragraph from the financial guru Jim Rickards – selling his book The New Case for Gold:

‘When you look at America’s hardest times – The Great Depression, World War II, the stagflation of the 1970s, for example – there were always a few who made fortunes. They saw the crisis coming and took the right steps beforehand to prepare.’

Do you see how this paragraph works?

  1. If they act, they could be richly rewarded
  2. If they don’t act, they die

It’s an offer they can’t refuse.

And it’s the first persuasion lesson from Don Corleone.

I’ve thought of two more. (Parts 2 and 3 coming soon).

Comments on this entry are closed.