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    Disconnectors: Give Your Readers a Wake Up Call

    disconnectors - cross-eyed girl

    What are disconnectors?

    And why do you need them?

    Well, do me a favor.
    Watch one of those soppy soaps today.

    Something like ‘Desperate Housewives; Dynasty; The Bold and the Beautiful’ or something equally…um…riveting.

    Notice how they started the episode?

    They didn’t trust the fact that you’d actually remember the previous episode. Nope, the writers of the soap know that you have extreme short term memory, and need to be prompted. So oui, out rolls the prompt. First, they show you exactly what was happening in the last episode, before throwing you smack, bang into the current episode.

    And right after they’ve created a connection, they disconnect.

    Disconnectors create a jolt

    Imagine you’re driving a car. And the highway stretches in front of you straight as an arrow. Mile after mile of the same, same seems to suck you into vortex of yawns.

    Then suddenly you see a curve in the road.

    The curve is the disconnector

    It’s the thingamajig on the journey that jolts you back to life. You’re all alert. You’re all eyes and ears. And you’re paying close attention.

    Kinda what your reader does when reading your article

    The connectors create the smoothness that pull your reader into the story. The disconnectors snap your customer out of la-la land. The curve in the road gets the readers attention, without taking the reader off the road.

    I guess some explanation is in order here, right?

    Or rather explanation with demonstration. So here’s an article from the Psychotactics archives. Notice how the disconnector actually jumps in without warning. There’s a marked disconnect between the headline and the body copy–a factor that forces you to read the article.

    Example No.1:


    Headline:
    Can You Really Create Persuasive Sales Copy out of Thin Air?

    Body Copy: “Draw a dog.”

    Those were the commands of the art teacher to a bunch of five year olds. They didn’t know it just then, but they were part of a psychological experiment.

    The command reverberated through the room with a varying effect.

    Some kids furrowed their eyebrows. Some scoured their brains for inspiration. Others chewed on their crayons uneasily.

    Yet three kids seemed unmistakably unperturbed

    Whipping out their crayons, they seemed to sport an air of flamboyance, even haughtiness. With practiced deft strokes, they went about rendering a piece of art many adults would have been proud to call their own.

    Barring the three obviously talented ones, the rest of the class seemed to produce nothing but chaos.

    Did you see the intense disconnect between the headline and the body copy?

    Yes you did, because I made a big hoo-haa about the disconnect. Yet, if you were just reading this article, you’d have never seen it. The first fifty words would have got your attention, and you’d be away. It’s only because I’m pointing it out to you, that you’re noticing the disconnector.

    You can create disconnection at the start of an article, in the middle of an article or even towards the end of the article. As long as you can learn to disconnect and then connect, you’re effectively doing what every soap opera does day, after day, after day.

    Let’s see how the disconnectors work in the middle of an article

    In the article below, the disconnectors and the connectors flow thic and fast. You’ll find three whole disconnects in as many paragraphs. You’ll also find connectors within the disconnectors, and disconnectors within the connectors. And best of all, the words don’t jump and bounce around curves. The disconnectors and connectors actually keep the dynamics of the article powerful, without too many curves, or too many straight runs.

    Headline: The Fundamental Flaw in Creating Your Uniqueness (USP)

    Copy: “Say cheese,” says the person behind the camera.

    And you say cheese. Your facial muscles are frozen. You have a dumb, goofy look. And under your breath you’re muttering, “C’mon Take the picture, take the picture, c’monnnn!”

    Click! You blink. The picture’s been taken.

    And then the photographer runs across to you, all excited to show the nice digital photo. You take a look, you roll your eyes. You cringe. Because you just detest the photo.

    It looks artificial. It looks posed. It’s not you. It looks like all those ‘cheesy’ pictures you’ve seen before.

    It’s not unique.

    How can it be unique? You weren’t yourself!

    And that’s the whole problem with uniqueness. You’ve tried too hard. In your business you’ve tried to your darndest to get your own uniqueness. And you’ve failed miserably. Because you froze.

    And the uniqueness you sought to find, looked like the cheesy picture in the third paragraph.

    When asked about your uniqueness, you mumble something like ‘service or quality,’ which means nothing to most people.

    The funny thing is that Sarah had the same problem

    You see, Sarah has a yoga class. And a yoga class is a yoga class, right? Sarah twisted her brain like a pretzel, but she just couldn’t come up with a form of uniqueness.

    So she did what all the experts recommended.

    She asked her clients. And some of them shrugged. Some of them gave her mixed answers. And that left Sarah more confused than ever before.

    Then she did what most businesses do. She gave up. She figured her business would just remain a commodity. To hell with the uniqueness. Trying to find what was unique was too hard.

    You see Sarah was asking the wrong question

    She was trying to look inward. Because the question isn’t: What’s unique about my business? But rather “What do I *want to do* in my business that’s different from everyone else?”

    Let me explain.

    I asked Sarah what she’d want to achieve for her students most of all? Her response was lightning quick and I backed up two steps at the speed and ferocity of the answer.

    “Injury,” she said. “You can really hurt yourself in a yoga class if you’re doing the wrong thing. I want every student to have Injury-Free Yoga.”

    Tum..dee..dum. Can you see it? Sarah couldn’t see it. Her uniqueness was *Injury-Free Yoga.* Plain and simple.

    What do I *want to do* in my business that’s different from every one else? What do you want to do that’s different in your business? What’s your dream for your customer?

    Ask Tom Monaghan, founder Dominos Pizza

    Today you take quick pizza delivery for granted. But if you zapped your way back to the swinging, hey-groovy seventies, you’d grow old just waiting for a pizza.

    You’d call a pizza place. You’d ask, “Can you deliver?” And about seventy-nine hours later, you’d be still tapping your fingers waiting for the pizza guy to arrive.

    Tom Monaghan did what Sarah did. He couldn’t find anything unique about his business, so he invented his uniqueness.

    He worked out how to get a pizza to his customer in 30 minutes or less. And then he came up with Dominos now historic slogan. Dominos Pizza. In 30 Minutes or It’s Free!

    Yup, the pizza man invented his uniqueness.

    You noticed the disconnection in the article, didn’t you?

    Disconnection 1: We were talking about USPs and inexplicably started with ‘saying cheese,’ in a photo.

    Disconnection 2: From uniqueness, we jumped to Sarah. Who the heck is Sarah? What’s she got to do with all of this USP business?

    Disconnecton 3:
    We dragged Tom Monaghan into the story. What happened to Sarah?

    You know darn well what happened

    The story line connects with the concept of the USP. It reverts back and forth between Sarah and Tom, the founder of Dominos Pizza. It connects, disconnects and takes you on one heck of a wild ride.

    Use disconnectors to get that wild ride rockin’

    The job of the connector is to make sure the customer slip slides from one part of the article to another. It keeps the momentum steady. The disconnector is meant to give the reader just a little bounce. Just to make sure the reader hasn’t quite nodded off, and to build what is called a plot, within a plot.

    This is the way to wake up your readers.

    If you want an education of disconnectors, get to your remote control.

    There’s sure to be an ‘educational’ soap on, right now!

    About the author

      Sean D'Souza

      Sean D'Souza is a writer, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology. Read more by Sean on Psychotactics.com

    • Aaron says:

      I think this is a very good and vital technique for nearly all forms of fiction. It sustains the reader or viewer’s interest by creating different aspects of the fictional medium to look forward to and think about, and also prevents the fictional medium from becoming too predictable.

    • Neha Garg says:

      Great post. This is not something very widely known or even used. Disconnectors help a lot when readers have a very short attention span (as most readers these days do .. Thank you Internet!).

      Disconnectors work beautifully in articles but can be used to great effect in fiction too if the story is neatly tied together in the end.

      Thanks for a very informative post.

    • Very nicely done. This concept is frequently used in the early chapters of fiction, as we wonder how the different characters in disconnected scenes will eventually cross paths. It works beautifully in an article or blog post as the readers eagerly wonder how you’ll tie the concepts back to the theme, and it keeps them reading through to the end. Your post illustrated the lesson perfectly.

    • Never really thought of it this way since I’m very much new, and eager to learn, in the world of Freelance writing. I very much agree that you need to engage and do something out of the ordinary to get your readers be interested enough to read your post. That is something this will definitely be of help of and I’ll be sure to implement this in the future articles I’ll be writing.

      I’m very much optimistic, so thanks for the post Sean!


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