In 1950 struggling science fiction writer Lafayette Ronald Hubbard decided to make a change. Up until then, he had been earning his living by pumping out pulp novels at the rate of a penny a word, but he wanted more. So he started a religion. Within a few short years, the man who would become known to the world as L. Ron Hubbard vaulted himself from Astounding Science Fiction hack to prophet of a major new faith.

Regardless of what one might think about the Church of Scientology's dogma, there is no question that, as a business, it was an unqualified success. Not only did L. Ron Hubbard attract the fame that had long eluded him, he amassed a fortune in the process.

Here's how he did it.

Get It In Writing

When L. Ron Hubbard decided to become the leader of his own religion, he did not begin by building a church, gathering a flock, or organizing a congregation. Rather, he sat down at his desk and did what he did best--he wrote. The result was Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, a book that detailed a new path to wellbeing that combined elements of psychology, ancient philosophy, and personal experience.

The book was an instant smash, selling more than 150,000 copies its first year of publication. And despite intense criticism from traditional psychiatric workers, Dianetics gave Hubbard all the legitimacy he needed in the eyes of his rapidly expanding base of followers.

But Hubbard did not stop there. After releasing Dianetics, he embarked on a rigorous speaking tour, during which he presented his set of principles as the one and only way to achieve fulfillment. His dynamic lectures transformed his image from that of an insightful but faceless writer to the charismatic leader of thousands of followers that would go wherever he was willing to take them.

Two Irresistible Persuasion Tactics

There is no denying that L. Ron Hubbard's methods have convinced many people to invest considerable money, time, and attention in order to become part of what he created. To make this happen, Hubbard used two of the most powerful psychological triggers in existence: Social proof and authority.

Social proof describes the strong tendency for people to buy into something if they see evidence that a significant number of others feel the same way. Dianetics gave Hubbard's readers evidence that others believed deeply enough in his ideas to put them between two covers and release them into the world. The unorthodox nature of what he was saying only added to his followers' convictions that they had uncovered a truly powerful secret.

Authority describes the equally strong human tendency to follow people that display overt markers of expertise. For example, people took Hubbard's concepts at face value, despite being dismissed by licensed mental health practitioners, because he packaged them in the form of books and speeches. With his credibility established, Hubbard could then proclaim his message with full confidence that his followers would defend him and spread the word on his behalf.

Whether or not you're in the religion business, you need true believers to become massively successful. In this, you could do far worse than to take a page out of L. Ron Hubbard's book.

To read past installments of Hype Men, go here, here, and here.