Hook Them With Style

Your clients aren't fish so let's stop treating them like slippery, scaly, simpletons who'll jump for the latest worm.  And start treating them like the complex humans they are - deserving both our creativity and humanity.  Sure hooks are about getting attention, but they're also about providing a compelling reason to keep reading.  Without value, it's nothing but a cheap trick.

Whether you're writing a page on your site, an email or a social media post, the first thing you have to do is capture your audience's attention.  Which means you need a killer hook.

When I'm writing a page of copy I can't get the rest of the page out until I've nailed the hook.  I'm not sure how other copywriters approach their work (there are probably 3421 ways to start a piece of copy) but for me it's all about the hook.  And a great hook is often my favourite part.

A hook needs to give your potential client a damn good reason to keep reading.  And that means you need to violate their expectations, surprise them with a different perspective and give them a valuable reason to keep reading.

1.  You need to pique their curiosity.  I wrote an entire post dedicated to exploring the complex, fickle little emotion us copywriter's live and die by.  Check it out for understanding more about triggering curiosity in your clients.  (For bonus points also check out this post on understanding your client's worldview).

2.  You need to find a way to say it differently.  If you're saying the same thing as all your competitors, the same thing they've read or heard 8632 times before you're giving their brains permission to shut off.  To start wondering about the last text they received from coffee-date-potential-relationship-guy.  Did it seem curt?  Maybe he was just busy...should you text him something flirty to see how he responds?

And before you know it your customer has scrolled through without actually reading.  Or worse yet, their cursor has drifted to the close tab button at the top of the screen.  Find out more ways to Say It Differently by grabbing the free worksheet at the end of this post!

3.  Make it all about them.  You and whatever you're selling are secondary.  Especially in a hook.  Hook's are all about the customer.  So you should rarely if ever use the pronouns "I", "me", or "my".  "You" and "your" are better.  Save introducing yourself and what you're selling for later.  This is where understanding your client's worldview will help you do a better job of aligning your message with something that will resonate with them.

4.  Make them say "hell yes!"  My favourite hooks get the reader to say hell yes in their minds.  As in, "hell yes that sounds good!" or "hell yes that sounds just like me" or "hell yes that's exactly what I need" or "hell yes that's just what I was looking for" or "hell yes I totally need to find out more about that".  If you can get them nodding their head and identifying with what you're saying right out of the gate, you'll have an easier time selling to them later on.  This isn't the ONLY kind of hook that works but it IS my favourite.

5.  Humor.  It doesn't work in every situation - let's face it humor isn't always appropriate.  But humor is a great way to show your personality.  It's a great way to get someone's attention.  And studies have shown that if you can make people smile it puts them in a more favourable frame of mind for whatever comes next (ie the selling).

Unfortunately, I can't give you a formula for hooks.  An a + b - c x d= killer hook that will capture the attention of every person to land on your page from here to eternity...guaranteed.  But you should start to pay attention to great hooks that draw you in.  Start a file.  Copy and paste.  ( I love Evernote for this kind of thing)  See if you notice any patterns.  See if you notice any of the tips I've talked about here.

To get your file started, I've compiled a few for you.  Some I even wrote myself ;)

1.  Some people walk across hot coals to gain spiritual insight.  They're called firewalkers.  But what if every step you took was painful.  No hot coals needed. (page to sell orthotics I wrote for www.acupuncture-works.ca)

2.  Your ideas stand out.  But if you're not booked out your website could be asleep on the job.  (Facebook ad for kylaroma.leadpages.co)

3. Running a half-ass Facebook page is like showing up to a job interview naked, without a resume and six hours late.  No impression is better than a terrible first impression.  (social media consult page from www.freddarlingstudio.com)

4.  Stay Healthy.  Be Lazy.  It's not easy being healthy these days.  There are so many obstacles in your way, like armchairs and TV's and a second helping of shepherd's pie.  But we reckon there are a few simple things you can do to make your life a healthier place, and we wrote them all down in a book called, "Stay Healthy.  Be Lazy." (a drink carton label www.innocentdrinks.co.uk)

5.  Life in a cubicle?  You'd rather die.  The daily commute?  No freakin' way.  You're built for chasing horizons, easily seduced by one more hill or the lure of another bend in the road.  The most important discovery in all of your travels?  You.  (chapter 6 hook from my upcoming book The Power of Personality for Your Small Business).

6.  What do you get the bathroom sink that has everything?  The Executive. (a razor blade description from www.dollarshaveclub.com).

7.  Superman had it easy - all it took was a little sunlight.  Spiderman had the help of a radioactive bug.  And the last time you checked you didn't have any mutated genes giving you an unfair advantage.  It takes dedication, determination, courage and a titanium will if you want to make things happen in this life. (chapter 4 hook from my upcoming book The Power of Personality for Your Small Business)

8.  Everyone deserves their own private sanctuary.  We'll help you find yours without losing sight of your budget, your wishlist...or your mind.  (real estate company www.bestlaneighborhoods.com)

9.  Eat 24 The Hunger App - Like a Food Truck in your pants.  (eat24hours.com)

10.  When You're Running Around Like A Frizzy-Haired Obsessive-Compulsive Psychopath.  Nobody gets between me and my business.  Nobody.  Not even that shit bottle of wine from the night before.  It could be Saturday.  It could be Easter morning.  It could be raining REALLY BIG MUSCLY MEN for all I care, but one thing is certain: I will be the most disciplined person in the room, and I will get it done.  (Title and first 2 paragraphs from a blog post www.themiddlefingerproject.org) PS I love TMF and it was so hard to choose just one thing from there.  The whole list could have been hooks from all of their service and blog pages.