How to Zeigarnik Your Audience into Submission

I’m going to show you a simple formula to make your content addictive, memorable and attention grabbing to the point where people are dying to read your content and buy your products. 

But first, let’s find out what a Zeigarnik is and what it can do for your bottom line…

The Zeigarnik Effect states that people tend to remember unfinished or incomplete tasks better than completed tasks.

For example, waiters are better at recalling orders they have not yet delivered than orders they’ve already fulfilled. An order that’s unfulfilled is unfinished, but an order delivered is finished.

Your audience is no different. They crave completed stories, resolved problems, answered questions, and achieved goals.

Soap operas do this all time. “Tune in tomorrow to find out if Jane’s two headed baby survives diabolical doctor Dan’s nuclear attack.” (I don’t watch soap operas, but that sounds about right…)

News shows do this. “Join us after this commercial break to discover which product in your bathroom cabinet is making you unlikeable, ugly, and sterile.” 

Video games keep their players super addicted using this very technique. 

Your goal in using the Zeigarnik Effect is to open loops that your audience desperately wants to close. Think of a cliffhanger and you’ll know what I mean.

For example, in social media you can create open loops between posts. Ask questions, post regular updates on a continuing story, take your followers on a journey, and so forth.

In your content, let readers know there is a big payoff coming soon, but first, you have to cover important ground to get there.

In your emails, create teasers at the end of each email that makes the reader look for your next email. “Look for my email tomorrow where I’ll show you how to feed 12 people using one chicken, 6 ketchup packs, and a blow dryer.”

Here’s a simple formula you can keep on your desktop to remind you of how this is done:

“In a moment I’m going to show you [something powerful, strange or amazing] but first let’s take a look at [something needed to set up the powerful, amazing, or strange thing].”


“In a moment I’m going to show you ___ but first let’s take a look at ___.”


“In a moment I’m going to reveal my Number 1 secret to acquiring and retaining million-dollar super affiliates, but first let’s talk about what a super affiliate can do for you.”

“I’m about to show you the exact formula I use to earn no less than $3000 for every email I write, but first let’s talk about how to build a million-dollar mailing list.”

“As promised, I’m going to show you the 5 secrets to winning or placing in every single gardening contest you enter, but first let me tell you the super embarrassing story about the first rose contest I ever entered.”

When you Zeigarnik your readers using this method, you’ll find far more of them happily read the full article or watch the full video. It makes a much better reading or viewing experience for them and they’re more likely to consume more of your content as well as pay more attention to your product offerings. 

But there are two pitfalls to avoid when using this method:

First, don’t overuse it. I’ve seen sales videos that use this method several times in one video, angering their viewers and reducing their sales to almost nothing. That’s because when you use the Zeigarnik method occasionally, you peak interest.  But if you use it over and over again, people will become weary of continually being strung along for the ride.

Second, don’t let people down. Make sure you fulfill your promise and more. I’ve also seen sales videos that promise to reveal certain information if the viewer keeps watching only to never reveal it. Prospects hate this, as they should. The marketer has failed to make good on their promise, the prospect is angry for having wasted their time watching the video and nobody wins.

It might take a little practice to master this technique, but it’s well worth it. There isn’t a seven figure marketer out there who does use it, and now you can, too.

And for one last example of the Zeigarnik effect, you might check out the first paragraph of this article. 😉 


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