Snail sex and dominant lobsters

By  •  Updated: 10/12/22 •  4 min read

Stabbing a lady in the head with a dart isn’t a typical chat up line, but it certainly gets her attention.

Before you try this pick up line though, be warned (if you really needed it) that this won’t work for everyone.

In fact, it probably won’t work at all.

Unless you’re a snail.

The gardens snail Cornu aspersum has developed this uniquely violent way of getting its mate’s attention and it’s no tiny thorn either. The darts have been seen going straight through the mate’s head and out the other side.

This amorous slime factory fires a dart into the head of the target of it’s affections. The dart contains a secret love potion that gets the target ready for mating.

Poor snails 😢.

If only they could hold a pen, or type, they’d be able to target their prospective partner with something of value, that maybe entertains a little as well, and gets them ready for the next stage of the relationship.

But at least they’ve learned one valuable life lesson.

Getting, keeping and directing attention is critical for long term survival.

Hopefully I’ve done that in this email.

Well, I know I have, because you’re still reading it.

We live in a distracting world and we need to get our readers’ attention.

A lot of marketers use shock tactics to do it but end p frightening the prospect away, but if we can pick something which is unusual, but not threatening, we get their curiosity pumping and hold their attention, until they’re receptive to the next stage of our message.

The animal kingdom is full of these ideas, because we’re more like snails than we are different from them, and we face a lot of the same basic challenges.

The needs for shelter from danger, food, and eventual reproduction are common to all life.

Health, wealth (even if it’s just an abundance of lettuce), and relationships. The 3 big markets, even for snails.

Here’s a few examples that I go back. to a lot. You can see it’s not just used for getting attention in ads, but all the way through to the product as well.

3 Examples

 The Ad: Sean Vosler’s Dung Beetle

This started out as a social post (and some ads) and then into a sales letter.

 The Social post:

 The Sales letter

Note how this is a little way down where Sean knows people’s attention is about to sag

 The Sales Letter/VSL: Jon Benson’s “Fish” VSL for Tao of Badass

On a sales page, you already have some fleeting attention, but you need to hold it for them to watch a longer video than most people are used to.

There’s a multiplying law of attention. The longer you hold their attention, the longer they’ll stay for the less dramatic stuff later, in the hope of more.

This combination of a pattern interrupt and an open loop is famous amongst copywriters.

The Product: Jordan Peterson’s lobsters

The first chapter of 12 Rules for Life starts like this…

Once you’re in, you’re staying.

Look at his first rule. Nothing special, but how surprising is his opening paragraph?

He holds your attention long enough to get commitment to the rest of the book.

A Tool To Help

My favourite resource for finding the bizarre in the animal kingdom is:

There’s plenty more in Google to illustrate any point though.

TL;DR Summary

Picking a radical analogy to start your ad, sales letter or product can get and keep your audience’s attention and make them stay.

My favourite source of these analogies is the animal kingdom, which is simple to tie back to human behaviour.

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.