Now That I Have Your Attention…
(Beyond the copywriting headline)
© Dawn Carrington - All Rights
Whether you’re new to the copywriting business or you’ve been in
it a while, you’ve probably already heard how important the headline is. You have to grab the reader’s
attention so they’ll stop what they’re doing and read the rest of your article, letter, or
advertisement. I won’t
deny it’s imperative that the first words your reader sees must be show-stoppers, so to speak, but what about
the rest of the story?
Has a headline ever caught your eye and you stopped to read on
only to be disappointed in the remaining text? That’s as much a killer to any advertisement as a boring
headline, and you won’t get many jobs (or keep many clients) if the only blow you can deliver is the punch of
the powerful title.
Copywriting is about more than just snagging a reader’s
attention; it’s about keeping it. And writing a promising headline and failing to deliver on the subject is
bringing yourself perilously close to career suicide.
So how do you prevent a reader from tossing away what you’ve
written before they reach the end of the first paragraph?
You need to remember that you’re trying to convince the reader
to act, and one of the best ways to do that is to engage them. Get them invested in the product or service
you’re writing about.
Use what I call “thought questions”. These are questions that
make the reader think and feel. For example, “what would you do if you’re stranded alone on a deserted road
only to discover your cell phone has no coverage?” The first thought that pops into most readers’ minds would
The question doesn’t just make the reader think about what
he/she would do, but it also establishes a potential situation that could actually happen. This will
encourage additional reading. After all, anyone would want to know the solution to such a
Some other examples would be:
What would you do if you injured yourself and couldn’t reach
How many times have you begun a conversation only to discover your cell
phone’s battery is dying? How dangerous could that be if you were in a situation that required 911
Never ask yes or no questions. They let the reader off the hook,
and you will potentially lose their interest if they feel the subject doesn’t apply to them once they’ve
answered the question.
One caveat: While using thought questions can draw a reader in,
you don’t want to make your reader think his/her way through the entire text. So you have to find a happy
medium between reader participation and provision of the solution.
So before you begin to write your copy, think about the product
or service you’re promoting. What kind of questions could you ask that would draw a reader in? What kind of
emotions could you elicit? Once you’ve written the questions, provide the solutions and then you’re halfway
to text that will keep your readers reading.
Dawn Carrington is the editor-in-chief for Vintage Romance Publishing. A
multi-published author of fantasy and paranormal romance herself, she currently writes for Ellora's Cave, Red
Sage Publishing, and Samhain Publishing. She has created and taught courses for Suite 101 and University for Writers. Additionally, she is a promotional
and business consultant and non-fiction writer for several online e-zines as well as print magazines and
lectures frequently on the business of writing.
To learn more about Dawn or Vintage Romance
Publishing, please visit www.dawnrachel.com or www.vrpublishing.com.