Is Your Right Brain a 98 lb. Weakling?

  |  December 27, 2002   |  Comments

Sneak past left-brain defenses with creative, intuitive, persuasive writing.

Left, right, left, right. Nope, we're not gearing up for a military review. We're going to talk about "drilling" your brain, and how you can use your beefed-up mental muscles to reach the "heart" of the brain, so the "mind" of the brain will follow. Why? Because however much human beings rationalize buying decisions, we always make them based on emotions.

Most of us exercise our left brains on a daily basis, but many of us are allowing our creative right brains to atrophy. This is why so much of the copy intended to persuade feels so flaccid and tired. So let's try to creep past the security guard of the analytical, logical, linear, give-me-the-facts left brain. Speak to the emotional, intuitive dimension every human possesses and relies on. Write to the right brain; and then listen to the fabulous tune your cyber-cash register can sing...ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching!

We know a lot about the brain. We know it has two hemispheres -- left and right -- and we have a pretty good map of what goes on in the left brain, with its centers for sensory input and associated memory, motor coordination, planning, judgment, and emotion. We say it's the seat of logic, objectivity and details. We know less about the map of the right brain, the seat of intuition, subjectivity and big pictures. But we know the left brain is always checking things out with the right brain -- just as the child glances at the parent to seek the nod that says she's on the right track.

Now hear this: Human persuasion is a right brain process. To persuade effectively, you must let your emotional hair down and snare your prospects by singing the right brain's song.

How to do that? I'll give you some pointers that writing guru Roy Williams shared with me on how to free your creative right brain.

Just Do It!

First, don't be afraid. Just write something. Anything. If it's worth doing at all, it doesn't matter if you do it badly at first. You'll get better at it along the way. It's called practice. We all have to start somewhere and even writing badly is a heck of a lot better than being stuck in analysis paralysis!

However, don't begin at the beginning. Instead, begin at the end. Decide what you are trying to accomplish -- the ultimate purpose of the communication -- so you know where and how it needs to end.

Do you remember a little girl named Alice?

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" she asked.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where--" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

This dialogue is, of course, from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland".

How many movies have you seen that have a great plot, interesting characters, thoughtful dialogue, and the whole kit and caboodle go down the drain in a lousy ending? What a disappointment. The left brain stomps in to take charge, discounting all that came before. Knowing where to end is that important!

When you've got your end, you can begin. Where? Anywhere at all. Pick a word and let go. The more unusual the word the better. If you're stuck, open the morning paper, place your finger on any word, think how it might be relevant to where you are going, and -- voila! -- you're on your way.

Suppose you've got a really cool computer gadget that allows dial-up users to surf at super-sonic speeds. Can you imagine how to start your email announcement using the word "behead"?

Here's how my colleague reacted. "Behead?" He puzzled for the briefest moment. "You've beheaded the monster of frustration. You've just installed our gadget and, suddenly, surfing the Web doesn't take forever."

What to Leave Out

Much as you know and love what you do, it's easy to get trapped trying to convey everything in one fell swoop. You need to leave a lot of stuff out. First, most people can only maintain their interest for so long. Second, when you tell them something they already know, you'll bore them (and see the left brain marching in). Third, the greatest magic is often present in what is left unsaid. Think iceberg: one-eighth above water, seven-eighths below, but nobody would mistake what it is.

End, begin, omit. Got it? Now keep in mind these ideas about revving up your writing and start writing "right." Go on; feel free to free your right-brain creativity!

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Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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