The fat king, that is.
It’s a story from the Old Testament book of Judges.
Here’s how it goes:
The year is around 1300 B.C., and the Israelites have recently arrived in the Promised Land.
For the last 50 or so years, God has provided for them, protected them, and helped them win battles.
And so they do the most natural thing humans do:
They snub him … and go and worship some idols.
Well, God is none too impressed with this.
So he politely gives them a taste of what it’s like to serve someone other than him.
He allows a foreign ruler — a big, fat king called Eglon — to come in and conquer them.
It doesn’t take long for the Israelites to realise they’ve been a bit silly. And they start crying out to God for help.
And God, being a very patient gentleman, forgives them — and raises up a man called Ehud to deliver them.
Now, Ehud is a very hardcore fellow.
He comes up with a daring plan:
He makes himself a double-edged dagger, and straps it to his leg.
Then he prepares a gift for fat king Eglon, and brings it to him.
The palace security gives Ehud a lazy pat-down for weapons. But what they don’t know is Ehud is a left-hander — something not common for warriors.
And so they only pat down his left leg — whereas Ehud wears his dagger on the right.
Once he’s through security, Ehud delivers his gift to king Eglon. But before he leaves, he says:
“I have a secret message for you, O King.”
The king can’t resist this. A secret? What could it be?
He immediately commands: “Shhh!”
(Doesn’t want any pesky servants sharing in his secret, of course.)
And he orders his servants out of the room.
The crafty Ehud uses the chance to assassinate the king, and then goes and leads a successful rebellion to free Israel from their slavery. Hurray!
So, indeed, curiosity killed the fat … king.
But I love this story as a lesson in how to use curiosity.
Here’s the thing:
Ehud used curiosity as well as he could for his day and age.
But today, we can’t be quite so … unsophisticated.
In 1300 B.C., the line “Want to hear a secret, O King?” was so compelling, the king kicked out his servants and locked his doors.
In 2020 A.D., the subject line “A secret message for you” would probably make you roll your eyes at me.
How times change!
The point is, you need to adapt to the level of sophistication of your market.
Most of the people who answered my copywriting challenge from a few days ago tried to improve Squarespace’s sales pitch with tactics. “Use scarcity.” “Add a time limit.” “Add more features.” “Insert a case study.”
Sure. These are all good tactics — but when people recognise them, they can backfire.
So if you want to sell your stuff, you have to use juuuuuust the right amount of persuasion tactics for your market.
Most people are not good Judges of this.
(Judges? Get it? The, uh, story was from … the book of Judges … ah, forget it)
But anyway, it just so happens that I am.
And so if you would like my help in getting that level of persuasion right for your business …
Make sure there are no servants in your palace before you click …