From the Newsletter: Persuasion Lessons from… IKEA?
by Joel K

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Even if you’ve never heard the name “Ingvar Kamprad,” there’s a very good chance you’ve bought something from him.

And if you have, you built it yourself.

Yep: Ingvar was the majestically Swedish founder of IKEA. And as it turns out, he was a pretty great copywriter! I’ve been reading about him in a big book with tiny print.

In it, there’s a sales letter he wrote 70+ years ago, sent out with an edition of the “Farmer’s National Weekly Paper” It was the first time Ingvar was trying to appeal to a mass audience and he needed to win them over in favor of “direct purchase” as a way of buying.

It reads like this:

“To the People of the Countryside

You must have noticed that it is not easy to make ends meet. Why is this? You yourself produce goods of various kinds (milk, grain, potatoes, etc.) and I suppose you do not receive much payment for them. No, I’m sure you don’t. And yet everything is so fantastically expensive.

To a great extent, this is due to the middlemen. Compare what you receive for a kilo of pork with what the shops ask for it… it is unfortunately true that goods that may cost, say, one krona to manufacture cost five, six, or more to buy.

In this price list we have taken a step in the right direction by offering you goods at the same prices your dealer buys for, in some cases even lower.”

Let’s break this into some practical takeaways:

Lesson 1: Never trade power for prose.
There’s NOTHING eloquent about the writing itself. Ingvar nails the simple, direct language of his audience. Its simplicity is why it works. He’s meeting ’em at their level.

Lesson 2: Framing shifts mindsets.
Ingvar opens with a powerful framing statement: “You must have noticed….”

By beginning this way, he has the reader right where he wants them: either they nod their head in agreement or they feel foolish for not noticing what everyone else has, and want to read on!

Lesson 3: Start from common ground.
Ingvar is pushing furniture—so why does he start with an example about pork? Because it’s easy for a farmer to relate to and understand.

Rather than prattle on about the cost of building a chair, he brings the concept into focus with an example that makes it relatable. Sneaky good.

Lesson 4: Enemies can help you convert.
First, Ingvar attacks the problem head-on: it’s hard to make ends meet.

Then, he agitates by showing how unfair it is for “the People of the Countryside” to work so hard and pay so much. They become the “hero.”

Instead of rushing to pitch, he agitates even MORE by giving readers an enemy to blame: the middlemen. In doing this, he absolves them of fault, builds trust, and positions his business as the solution.

Not bad for a (then) 23-year-old furniture salesman, eh?

Great copy doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to connect.
Have a great weekend!

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