January 16

“Hey Look, a Ferret!” — and Other Ways to Get Attention


Getting attention is hard.

Never before in history have companies been hounded by so many marketers simultaneously. Wherever they turn — from social media to events, search engines, and email — there are literally thousands of marketers vying for their attention.

Naturally, after a while, people become inured to all the noise. They just stop paying attention.

As marketers, it’s our job to jolt prospects out of their normal routines… because those routines include ignoring everything we’re trying to tell them. And to do that, we have to constantly come up with new, attention-grabbing ideas.

A few years ago, you could get attention by using a few “marketing power words” and writing halfway interesting content headers and email subject lines. But now EVERYBODY is using those words and has at least some idea how to put together an interesting header.

Put simply, the goalposts have moved. And so has the language we have to use to get attention.

Think about some of the most common content marketing tropes:

  • The such-and-such PLAYBOOK
  • The ULTIMATE GUIDE to yadda-yadda
  • The something-or-other CHEAT SHEET

When marketers first started using these terms, they worked well. They were new, different, and interesting. Consequently, they grabbed the attention of potential customers.

But now? They sound played out. And they get TUNED out by most people.

So what’s next? Well first, I’ll tell you what ISN’T next. What you absolutely shouldn’t do — even though you’ll see some people doing it — is using “crazy”, “shocking”, or “weird” headers just to get your email opened or your ebook downloaded. (Yes, people even do this in B2B)

I’ll give you an example.

Imagine I sent you an email with the subject line “Hey look, a ferret!” … and then I never made any reference to ferrets in the email. Or (even worse) I started the email with something like “Now that I’ve got your attention…”

Wouldn’t you feel insulted? Or, at the very least, like I’d intentionally deceived you just to get your attention? People don’t appreciate this. In fact, if you go back and read direct response marketing literature from 100 years ago, you’ll discover that people have NEVER liked this approach.

You can use crazy and interesting headers — but ONLY if you find a way to directly and logically tie them to the body of your content.

But that’s enough about what you shouldn’t do. What you SHOULD do is constantly look for ways to make your content stand out from the crowd.

Test words that other marketers don’t use. Test content header and body formats that other markers don’t use. Do everything you can to make your content look different to all the rest. Ideally, create a content style and format that’s unique to your company and makes it hard for others to copy you — because believe me, people WILL try to copy you once they see you’re doing things differently.

No, it isn’t easy. It’s certainly not a quick fix. You have to be willing to continually adapt your language and messaging to avoid sounding like everybody else.

But here’s the good news. This IS an outstanding way to consistently get attention in an extremely crowded industry. And over time, it can help you build up a great deal of respect and goodwill with your audience (namely, your prospects and customers).

If you need some help figuring out how to make your content stand out from the crowd, just get in touch.



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