Baiting the Hook

Article by: Doug Perry

Statistically, 75% of people read headlines, but only 25% keep reading an article! Why? If the headline doesn't grab your attention, surely there won't be anything worth while in the rest of the story. Right?

Your headline has to be powerful enough to get the reader's attention (that's the "hook"), and the first couple of sentences must tell them "who, what, where, when, why and how" to keep their interest. The rest of your article will give them the details. Make sure all of your advertisements have a great hook!

When you do a search on the internet or browse through the classified section of your newspaper for a particular subject, chances are you will get hundreds or even thousands of choices. So you start checking the headlines out one by one, and what do you do? The ones that have a dynamic headline are most likely going to keep your attention so you will read these print ads or go to their site and find out what they have to offer. If the first paragraph gives you an indication that this ad, article or web site has the information you are seeking, the advertisers have done their job well. Having a hook that really grabs your audience is the mark of a well thought out ad that will work!

Whether you buy them or not, the tabloids at your local super market certainly know how to grab your attention. They are experts at it! How often are you really curious just because the headline is so intriguing, or as we all know, so ridiculous that you wanted to know more? They are experts at creating a hook for an advertisement.

Five Simple Steps:

Follow these simple steps to develop a great hook for your headline and structure an ad that gets results:

1. Remember, "two heads are always better than one", so gather as many of your key people who are involved in your ad project for a "brainstorming" session. You and your staff know your loan products and services better than anyone else, and you know what you're trying to portray to your target audience, so let your creative juices flow. Set aside some time where you won't be interrupted often and make sure everyone in the group has something to write on.

2. As your team members have an idea or a concept, you write them down on a blackboard or dry erase board for everyone to see. A concept from one person will spark an idea from another, until you have lots of ideas to work with. This is a session where anything goes!

Write everything down no matter how irrelevant or silly it may sound. Remember - No negativity! Everyone's idea is treated as a great idea for a headline. Try to keep the number of your words in your headline down to 6 or less (three or four word headlines work the best).

3. Now, take those great ideas and narrow them down by numbering them in order of the ones you think have the best chance of grabbing your target readers attention the most. Everyone on the team gets a vote on each possible headline. After it is decided what the headline will be, put it aside for now.

4. Its time to write the first two sentences of your advertisement. Use the next two or three headline candidates on the list to create your first opening sentences for your ad.

Next, use some of the rest of the ideas that your brainstorming session produced that were also not used as a headline to complete the first paragraph. Refer to the A.I.D.A. Formula (read the article here) for information on structuring ads that work.

5. Now write your body copy to fulfill your reader's expectations and give them the important information you promised. It's that easy!

This information is not just for the internet. All print media (newspapers, magazines, trade journals, classified ads, etc.) should be written to attract your reader and give them the information they need.

If your article doesn't pull the response you want, write another one. Don't give up! They say that when you meet a successful person, you have met someone who has failed more than anyone else. This is because they didn't quit trying. They kept plugging away until they got it right. It is much the same way for writing great ads. If your first try doesn't give you the results you were hoping for, write another ad. You will soon get the hang of it and be able to write great ads that pull a good response every time.


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Doug Perry is the developer of a large number of mortgage lending web sites and is currently President of Click1003 where he develops Interactive Online Mortgage Application Software that integrates into all major loan origination systems for the mortgage industry. Doug is also President and Managing Editor of Mortgage Marketing Online, a web site devoted to helping the lending industry learn and apply marketing techniques to their online and offline lending businesses. As a loan consultant and California Mortgage Broker, Doug served eight years originating loans in California.

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