The 7 Triggers of Fascination

Sally Hogshead of Fascinate (courtesy of Radical Careering)

I've listened to a fascinating podcast by Derek Halpern of the Social Triggers website. In the podcast, he interviews Sally Hogshead, the Chief Fascination Officer of Fascinate, Inc. and author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. Done in a conversational fashion, the interview provided an interesting overview of the 7 psychological triggers that companies can employ to achieve better and more targeted results in their marketing.

According to Sally (she blogs here) we don't have learn how to be fascinating.  Instead, we should unlearn how to be boring!

So what are these fascination triggers? Let us begin with the one that gets us "hot under the collar"....


Also considered one of the seven deadly sins, Lust or Passion can be best exemplified by the example of Marilyn Monroe with her "wet voice".  When we eat something, our mouth literally waters. Similarly, when we hear somebody speak to us in this manner - like Marilyn - that kind of "pillow talk" activates our responses.

Other than voice, we can make use of video, descriptive cues, adjectives and "sound" like we're in a state of pleasure when communicating across different media. These help to stir the passions of our customers.


The next element of mystique draws upon the fact that what we do not say sometimes matters more than what we do say. In a world that is flooded with information and self important "brandspeak", it pays to keep people at the "edge of their seats".  Here, we're talking about a distinct, inimitable experience that is uniquely encapsulated in your product or service.

An example is the German hard liquor drink Jagermeister, which has an almost mythical quality to it even though most people who drink it doesn't like the taste. In Sally's own words, it is like a badge and an affiliation to an exclusive club, akin to fashionistas who wear Jimmy Choo shoes.


Alarm is the trigger that gets people to "panic" and response to an imminent deadline. It stems from the fear of loss, and can help to steer people to do something through alerting people on the negative consequences of not taking action. Ie, if you don't do something about it soon, you are going to lose this never-to-be-repeated deal!

Examples of the alarm trigger include any promotion, sale or discount that is time-based, urgent, and offered for a "limited period only". Point out the negative consequences of not taking action. This helps to spur people to purchase your product or visit your establishment.


This trigger is exemplified by how certain products can cost so much more compared to generic products. In the mid 17 century, Sally shares a story that tulips can be even more expensive than the house and garden in which they are planted in! The reason for their highly inflated value is due to the irrational need for people to have it.

Creating an element of prestige can be done through perceived respect, by elevating the value of goods in the eyes of your customers. It isn't just about raising prices alone, but about "owning a signature moment" where you can kick ass.


Power is conveyed through the authority and a "take charge" attitude of a business showing its clients that it knows what its doing. It is the reason why a top-notch hawker stall can treat its customers gruffly and bark orders at them yet have long queues day after day.  It is about leadership and respect for a proprietor or a professional who knows what he or she is doing.

To showcase power, it may be useful to take a stand on an issue or topic that you're confident about. Have quotations from industry leaders or academics that endorse you or your product, hence increasing your "mojo" in the eyes of your potential customers.


People have this inherent liking to do stuff that they're forbidden to do. Just look at the number of Singapore guys - many of whom are highly paid professionals - recently hauled up for underaged prostitution! Everybody has that interest in something different, special or perhaps even bordering on mischief and naughtiness.

For businesses, they can try to inject an element of surprise which deviates from the norm. It can include something that is unexpected like Groupon which took an established system of coupons and use social media to turn it on its head by pushing it out to people.


The exact opposite of Vice, Trust is about stability, dependability and reliability. Its about why we order the same dish in the restaurant, or revisit the same old doctor, dentist, accountant or lawyer time and time again. In an age of utter transparency enabled by social media, trust becomes more key than ever before.

By establishing time-tested patterns of service or product quality, small businesses can leverage on the trigger of trust and ensure that they deliver on what they promise.  Simply doing what you say that you were going to do, or exceeding on your promise, you would be able to tap onto the power of trust.

For more information on the Fascinate system, do visit Sally Hogshead's website which comes with lots of great freebies.

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