People I find fascinating include: Will Smith, Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, Jack Dorsey etc..
Brands I find fascinating include: Nike, Apple, Scotch & Soda, Bang & Olufsen, Toms, Red Bull etc..
Before knowing much about what triggers fascination it’s easy to see that popularity and success must be part of it. Just because those adjectives are common to both of these lists doesn’t mean it’s true for everything fascinating. If you happen to meet a person who has traveled the world, experienced hundreds of new things and has the stories to prove it I would definitely say this person is also fascinating. The problem is when trying to market a brand, whether it be yourself or a company it can be much more difficult to portray the qualities that would lead other people to be fascinated. Sally Hogshead has this process down to a science and has been trusted by companies like Nike, Cole-Haan, Target and Coca-Cola to help their brands become more fascinating too. She wrote an amazing book on the topic called Fascinate: 7 Triggers of Persuasion and Captivation. In the book Sally presents these triggers that ultimately lead a consumer into a purchase. If I decided not to tell you what these triggers were I would be using a powerful one myself; mystique. The other 6 she highlights are: Lust, Alarm. Prestige, Power, Vice and Trust. My initial suggestions of how fascination is created in popularity and success both fall into these triggers. Popularity could be considered prestige or lust, when other people are doing something we tend to lust for it. Similarly things of prestige usually carry a sense of being popular. Success could be consider as trust, she points this trigger out as the most important. That could be because it is the hardest to earn and the easiest to lose.
If you think about it, being fascinating as a brand is a lot like a guy trying to pick up a girl at a bar. The same triggers are all available and if none are used I can guarantee you that girl won’t be interested (or fascinated). That being said this book is a good “scientific” look at why people become fascinated. But “to fascinate” should’ve always been your goal anyway. I don’t think any guy goes to the bar with a list of his best traits ready to recite to any willing girl, or any product sells itself solely on functionality.
This ties into a TED talk that Simon Sinek gave about selling the “why”. Through very enlightening examples he makes you realize that companies who are set up for failure are those who explain the what, how, and why, In that order. In these companies a lot of times no one even knows the why. Where as great companies are built around the why. Their company can change direction and take different paths because they are always focused on the same end goal. These almost always successful companies don’t start out with an exit in mind or a big payout, they believe that they have a legitimate solution to an actual solution. Simon goes on to explain that if you continue to talk about what it is you believe people will adopt that belief as their own and become advocates of your company.
Basically if your marketing a product you need to stop thinking and start feeling. People make decisions on emotions, find one that is most appropriate for your product and tug on it, hard!
Take a second next time you make an impulsive purchase to think, what made you buy that? I’ll bet it wasn’t the features.