A questionable technique that keeps prospects reading your marketing materials

friday, 3 june of 2011

A questionable technique that keeps prospects reading your marketing materials

by Tom Trush

About two years ago, I read a statement I can't shake from my memory.

Every time I put my fingers on the keyboard, these words rush to my mind as if the person who wrote them -- Joe Sugarman -- cast a spell on me.

A renowned copywriter, Joe is probably most famous for turning BluBlocker sunglasses into a multimillion-dollar empire. In his book, "The Adweek Copywriting Handbook," he wrote the following axiom:

All elements in an advertisement are primarily designed to do one thing and one thing only: get you to read the first sentence of the copy.

Notice how there's no mention of making a sale.

Joe goes on to explain that once your prospects get to the first sentence, your objective is to move them to the second sentence. When your prospects get to the second sentence, you must convince them to read the third sentence.

By now you can probably guess your goal for the third sentence ... fourth sentence ... fifth sentence ... and so on.

Joe calls this progression the "greased slide." Each sentence is another step on your prospect's journey to the end of your advertisement or marketing piece.

As prospects get further into your text, momentum builds and it becomes easier to keep them interested.

One of my favorite techniques for getting prospects to the first sentence is using a question in the headline. But I prefer a slightly different approach from what you might expect.

In sales, you frequently hear how you should always get prospects to agree with you and answer as many questions as possible with "yes."

Because this technique is used so much, I believe most people now realize after a few responses that "yes" questions are just a disguised sales pitch. As a result, their attention dwindles.

I prefer using questions that can't be answered with a "yes" or "no" response. For example, here's a headline I recently wrote for a direct-mail campaign.

Are These Common Marketing Mistakes Driving Away Prospects and Bleeding Profits from Your Business?

There's no way you can get the answer to this question without reading the remaining text. If you're a business owner, you're almost forced to continue reading to resolve your curiosity.

The key to this headline is the word "these." Take it out and the question isn't as effective:

Are Common Marketing Mistakes Driving Away Prospects and Bleeding Profits from Your Business?

With the above headline, you're not promised any answers. In fact, whether you answer "yes" or "no," there's little incentive for you to continue reading.

-----

© Trey Ryder

FREE LAWYER MARKETING ALERT: If you'd like to receive Trey Ryder's weekly Lawyer Marketing Alert, send an e-mail to Trey@TreyRyder.com. Write "Subscribe LMA" in the subject line and write your name and e-mail address in the body of the message.