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Review: Fascinate

To develop brands, marketers must do more than impress customers—they have to be truly fascinating.

The book: Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, by Sally Hogshead; Harper Business; February 2010.

The big idea: As media cacophony threatens to out-din a Metallica concert, it is no longer enough to impress customers. Now marketers must strive to fascinate people beyond the bounds of rationality. So, companies must activate such mental triggers as lust, mystique, power, trust, and vice.

The backstory: Hogshead, a marketing innovation consultant and ad-agency entrepreneur, has worked with such companies as Target, Nike, and Harry Winston jewelers.

If you read nothing else: Each trigger gets its own chapter. The mystique trigger is at work at an L.A. restaurant in which the garlic crab is prepared in a "secret kitchen" accessible only to members of the founding family. The alarm trigger is behind the shopping networks' constant updates about dwindling inventories of matching hanger sets.

Fascination formulas: In Part III, Hogshead uses clever graphics to demonstrate popular brands' use of triggers. FedEx is heavy on trust, light on vice; W Hotels is the opposite.

Rigor rating: 7 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). Hogshead relies in roughly equal measure on personal interviews, secondary sources, and experience working with companies. A survey of more than 1,000 people commissioned for the book provides statistical ballast.

Last updated: Feb 1, 2010

LEIGH BUCHANAN | Staff Writer | Editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine

Leigh Buchanan is an editor-at-large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture.

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