Attention: Don’t read this if you have all the answers!

August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let us craft the headline for you!The problem with Social Media is also its blessing: once an assertion is repeated enough times, it becomes gospel. Take, for example, the Social Media Marketing Funnel or AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action), those quixotic stages of consumer thought and action that lead to revenue nirvana. One major problem with the model is that it reveals nothing about what a company, political candidate, or non-profit must do or be in order to increase the likelihood that people actually migrate through those stages.

Here’s a good dose of practical experience, so please don’t read any further if you are wedded to the trial-and-error/do-it-yourself method of marketing. Write attention-grabbing copy, especially the headline.

Whether you’re composing a news release headline or subject of an email newsletter, if your material doesn’t stand out from the hundreds of items entering a person’s online view, you don’t stand a chance in garnering attention. And attention isn’t necessarily gained by shouting (just think of how many all-caps subject emails you no longer open).

Consider the following case: last week a federal district court struck down one of the primary provisions of the new healthcare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Hundreds of news articles were rushed into online media and networking sites. How is it best to grab even a share of the viewership? An experienced writer and journalist proposed “Eleventh Circuit Court Strikes Down ObamaCare Individual Mandate” as a headline for the news release. I voted it down because it left nothing to be answered. Why would viewers read the story if the headline contains everything they think they need to know? We went with “ObamaCare Bombs in 11th Circuit Court” and obtained more than 2,400 views within an hour.

Compare the view results produced by these headlines: “Constitutional Attorney David Rivkin Predicts Obamacare Will Die in Supreme Court” with 2,604 views to “Laura Ingraham Show: Rivkin Confident Government Lawyers Will Lose ObamaCare Case” with 1,311 views. Also, “Mississippi House Candidate Kills Huge Rattlesnake” with 3,787 views to “Cindy Shivers Bryan Wins GOP Primary House” with 1,982 views. Can you tell which two out of the four, has more appeal and better interest?

Here’s a list of three ways you can increase attention in your news release headlines and email subjects.

  1. Don’t tell the whole story—leave out a key piece of information so that readers will be compelled to read the entire story.
  2. Use at least one word with emotional charge. You don’t need to shout, you just have to stand out and appeal to the emotions.
  3. Reduce your word count: less is more. nSimple statements are more memorable than complex ones.
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