Woman Attacked With Cheeseburger!
(A Lesson in Grabbing Your Prospect’s Attention)

I was minding my own business, doing my daily online research, when I was suddenly stopped by an Associated , Press headline that read, “Woman Attacked With Burger, Police Say.”

I couldn’t resist. I just had to find out how this woman came upon such a terrible fate.

The weapon in question? A McDonald’s cheeseburger.

Apparently, she and her boyfriend had a spat, which ended in aggravated burger assault.

Funny as that may seem, there is a valuable copywriting lesson in this story.

And that is …

Curiosity is a powerful way to make your prospect stop dead in his tracks and read your sales message from top to bottom. Human nature makes it hard to resist a desire to find out more.

Think about it …

Have you ever been driving down the road, when you encounter a couple of police cars with lights flashing near a huddled group of curious bystanders? Chances are, you really wanted to know what was going on.

Or think about your favorite TV show …

How strong was your desire to learn more after watching the first part of a two-part series … especially after a really good cliffhanger?

No doubt about it, curiosity works.

Claude Hopkins, considered to be the “Godfather” of direct-response advertising, once said, “Curiosity is one of the strongest of human incentives. We employ it whenever we can.”

And as a copywriter, you’d be wise to follow his advice.

The most critical place to use curiosity is in your headline.

Here’s why …

If your promo’s headline doesn’t grab your prospect’s attention, your sales message is headed for wastebasket city.

Here’s an example of an attention-grabbing headline from a classic control that was responsible for bringing home the bacon:

What never … ever to eat on an airplane!

Even if you don’t fly, the curiosity this headline builds is irresistible. You can’t help but want to read further.

Here’s another one:

Outlawed for 41 years,
now legal again,
this investment launched the largest family
fortune the world has ever seen …
and could return 665% in the next 12 months.

If you’re an investor, you’d dive straight into the letter to figure out what this newly legal investment is.

And finally …

How to Get FREE Health Care Anywhere in America!
What Hillary Isn’t Telling You!

Back when this promo ran, the timeliness – and the promise of FREE health care – was enough to get even the biggest skeptic to keep reading out of sheer curiosity. Plus, who didn’t want to find out what it was that Hillary wasn’t telling them?

The second-most important place to use curiosity is in your lead.

Within the first two or three sentences, you’ve got to hook your prospect and make him think, “Wow, I need to keep reading this to find out more.”

Here’s an excerpt from one very successful lead:

Many of the world’s wealthiest families have used this “secret currency” for generations to grow dynasties. Let me show you just one example …

In this case, the prospect wants to keep reading to find out what this “secret currency” is.

Here’s another example:

This is very urgent, so I’ll get right to the point.

Starting tomorrow, just after 12 noon EST, you could begin skimming $5,250 per month from Wall Street’s banking coffers. If you want, you’ll be able to transfer this money straight into your personal bank account … free and clear.

This promise creates an itch the prospect must scratch. He wants to find out, “How is this even possible?”

And finally, from a health promotion:

I want to warn you about a serious hidden health threat that’s likely targeting you and your loved ones.

Wow. How could you NOT keep reading to find out what this health threat is?

The headline and lead are the two most important places for using curiosity, since they form the critical portion of the letter that hooks your prospect and forces him to keep reading.

So how, exactly, do you create curiosity so you can boost your promo’s response rate?

Here are four ways:

  1. Juxtaposition. Put two unlikely things together. For example, take a look at the headline of this article. Cheeseburgers and attacking usually don’t go hand in hand. This unlikely pairing, in itself, creates a good deal of curiosity.

    Another great example of this concept is the classic headline: “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” Becoming rich is normally associated with hard work. By putting in the adjective “lazy,” it creates a juxtaposition which, in turn, breeds curiosity.

  2. Absolutes. This is another great way to build curiosity. Take, for example, the headline you saw earlier: “What never … ever to eat on an airplane.” By making it an absolute – “never, ever” – it builds curiosity. This headline wouldn’t have the same appeal if it simply read, “What you sometimes shouldn’t eat on an airplane.”

  3. Questions. One of the most famous of these is: “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?” Another great example is, “Can You Write a Letter Like This One?” The key here is that the prospect would need to read further in order to answer the question.

  4. Secrets. Secrets always have been – and always will be – a great way to create curiosity. Everyone wants knowledge that no one else is privy to. Here is a classic example penned by copywriting genius John Carlton:

    Amazing Secret Discovered By
    One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards
    to Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks
    and Slices … and Can Slash Up to
    10 Strokes From Your Game
    Almost Overnight!

So there you have it.

Whether it’s a brutal burger assault, a one-legged golfer’s secret to success, or a way to skim $5,250 off of Wall Street’s coffers … if you use curiosity in your writing, you’ll certainly see a boost in response … and your paycheck!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 4.6
Published: January 12, 2009

1 Response to “Woman Attacked With Cheeseburger! (A Lesson in Grabbing Your Prospect’s Attention)”

  1. This article is what I like to call "full of juicy tips to really sink your teeth into." Well done.

    Chase Canyon

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