WARNING: None of the ideas that follow are original.
In fact, if you’re well versed in persuasion or copywriting, you probably know the technique I’ll talk about below, and there’s little point in you reading further.
However, if you’re stuck for a good way to catch people’s attention — or you just need a quick refresher — then read on.
The first goal for any kind of written persuasion is to catch people’s attention.
Think sensationalist headline, subject line.
If you don’t get attention, then the rest of your persuasive message won’t matter at all.
The attention-getting technique I want to discuss is something I saw in an email from Ben Settle yesterday.
By the way, Ben Settle is a copywriter who writes daily emails about marketing and copywriting.
His main business, however, is selling a print newsletter called Email Players, where he talks in more detail about the same topics.
Now Ben is a master of getting people’s attention, and yesterday’s email was no different.
The subject line was “The foolishness of selling a print newsletter.”
In other words, here’s a guy who makes his living selling a print newsletter, telling you why it’s a bad idea.
If you’re even remotely interested in the subject, you’d read on to see what he has to say.
It’s the element of surprise or dissonance.
“Why would he shoot himself in the foot like that? And what’s so foolish about print newsletters if he’s obviously making good money with them?”
The thing is, it’s not just Ben Settle who can grab attention this way.
The great copywriter Gary Bencivenga used this counterintuitive approach for a number of successful headlines.
Each time, an expert would tell you the case against the very thing he’s been promoting for years.
It worked like gangbusters then, and it continues to work now.
There’s only one catch.
You can’t trick people. You have to pay off the attention-grabbing headline in the actual message.
If you liked reading this, you might like my daily emails, because I’ll always pay off any sensationalist subject lines.