5 Ways to Capture Attention

TAKE THESE. I’ve written a lot of copy through the years–as a freelancer, an ad agency copywriter and a copywriter in the marketing department of a major newspaper. Following are some of my free tips for successful copywriting.

Getting attention is job one of any communication. Here are five techniques that work in all media.

1. Use a headline.
There are all types of headlines: how to, news, direct, question, reason why, testimonial and more. Good ones are golden.

2. Tell the audience something they know.
On the surface, this might seem mundane, but by telling the audience something they know you’re making an important connection. You’re saying, in effect, you understand them and you identify with them in some small way, which can be a great way to start a conversation.

3. Ask a question.
There’s nothing like a good, challenging, or provocative question to pique interest. Has anyone ever asked you a question that tapped into a problem, a fear, a desire, or a joy? Did it grab and hold your attention?

4. Share an anecdote.
People love a good story. An anecdote is a story in a bite-size package. A perfect way to reel in your audience.

5. Say something timely.
Talk about something newsy, whether a particular topic, industry, subject, or other area. Tap into something on people’s minds and you will seize their attention.

Those First 50 Words

Would you spend an entire week on your opening for an ad or other marketing or sales piece?

According to Brian Clark of copyblogger, it was a normal practice for Eugene Schwartz, a copywriting legend and author of Breakthrough Advertising.

“Master copywriter Eugene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece,” writes Clark, “the headline and the opening paragraph.”

I know it might sound crazy. And I admit I’m not able to devote that amount of time to my current projects. Workload and deadlines don’t allow it. But I do remember spending long hours writing headline after headline after headline when I worked on high-visibility advertising campaigns while on staff at a B2B agency. I might spend several days refining a concept, searching for the perfect headline, and writing body copy for a new campaign.

No matter the communications project and time constraints, it’s a good reminder to concentrate your effort on those first 50 words. Because if you lose the audience at the outset, it doesn’t matter what comes after, or how much polish you applied to the rest of the piece. They’re already gone.

8 Effective Headline Types for B2B

“If you haven’t done some selling in your headline, you have wasted 80 percent of your client’s money.”
−David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man

Writing a compelling headline isn’t as easy as it looks. That’s why it’s good to consider all the possibilities.

I thought of headline types after seeing a recent post at copyblogger. Actually, headline types haven’t changed much, if any, over the years. Following are eight variations that can work well for both B2B and B2C copy.

1. Direct. Direct headlines make a straightforward statement to readers. (Save up to 70% on generators.)

2. Indirect. Indirect headlines are designed to pique the curiosity of readers, providing the payoff in the body copy. (Issaquah is now home to 42,469 of your favorite authors.)

3. News. News headlines can be used when you have news or a special announcement. (Introducing the first watch you can wear with a wet suit and tie.)

4. How to. How to is the workhorse of headlines, promising useful information. When you’re drawing a blank, try a how-to headline. (How to get more mileage out of yellow pages advertising.)

5. Question. Question headlines are effective when your audience wants to know the answer. Craft a smart question and you’ll have them eating out of your hand. (What does the pilot strike mean for your travel plans?)

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