Foolproof Attention-Getting Tactics of Great Copywriters

attention-getting copywriting secrets

How do you break through the hullabaloo that your “should-be” customers are immersed in and get YOUR message across?

Well, it starts with attention. “Have I got your attention? Good.” **Queue scene from Glengarry Glen Ross**

I got the chance to spill some of what I’ve learned about getting attention online, in print and in person on The Small Business Marketing Report podcast (now called the Click and Convert Podcast) with Robert Tyson.

In 56 minutes, we discussed:

  • How to use hidden dangers and unexpected consequences to draw people to your message like moths to a flame
  • Why certain kinds of statistics get shared on social media
  • Why picking a fight is often great for business (and how to benefit even if you don’t do the fight-picking)
  • How to use personality… and how much personality is too much?
  • How to use secrets and codes for almost guaranteed attention

Check out “The Psychology of Attention: 5 Foolproof Ways to Grab ‘Em by the Eyeballs”

Honestly, I’ve been fiending to be a guest on The Small Business Marketing Report podcast for quite some time, and I’m a big fan of Robert and his co-host Sean Clark, so I’m excited about this.


Update: Now you can listen to the interview here!


Psychologically-Proven Ways to Get Anyone’s Attention

get anyones attention creatively

I love this quote from Steuart Henderson Britt — “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.”

The same is true for writing valuable web copy. If you can’t seize the attention of the people you can help, you might as well be winking at them in the dark.

Unfortunately, attention is one of the scarcest commodities in the world today.

There are 3 things that are psychologically-proven to draw the attention. Well, really there are 4, but the fourth one kinda goes without saying

  • danger
  • entertainment
  • curiosity
  • surprise, which is sort of a combination of the other three.

In my guest post on the Orbit Media blog, I discuss specific ways web writers can leverage danger, entertainment and curiosity to surprise their audiences and grab their attention. The article also includes some of the best examples of other writers putting these psychological forces to work.

Here are a few that didn’t make the cut:


How about this example from my inbox today:

danger attention bill bonner

Doom and gloom is a powerful motivator, always has been. And with the recent craziness in the financial markets, “danger” headlines abound.

Your wallet (which you are quite fond of) is in trouble, and if you just read this email, you’ll be prepared to protect yourself.

For a certain audience, headlines like this are nearly impossible to ignore.


Your camera advertisements can talk about frames per second, lenses and apertures — or you can shoot a video like this:

Did you watch the entire 4 minute video? Exactly.

The title of the video is pretty attention-grabbing, too: Locked in a Vegas Hotel Room with a Phantom Flex. The active verb (locked), the intrigue of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”… and for camera fiends, the prospect of playing with a $100K camera. All juicy details.

(Note: Don’t get me wrong; you do have to talk about the features of your product or service. But, more often than not, you should lead by demonstrating the benefits, the transformation that your product creates.)


Bill Jayme’s famous direct mail envelop for Psychology today is a classic study in curiosity. Questions are always a good way to engage people, and a question like “Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one at home?” is a doozy. It does more than force your brain to come up with an answer; it makes you wonder, “why do I do that?” and “what does that mean about me and my personality.

Bill Jayme Curiosity Attention

The teaser copy makes you want to find out more about the human mind — YOUR mind to be precise. And now that you’ve started thinking about it, your brain practically begs for more insight into the meaning of it all.


Read the full article, The Psychology of Attention: 10 Lessons for Web Writers from Deez Nuts  on the Orbit Media blog.

The most famous formula for selling, e.g. AIDA, starts with attention. Without attention, you don’t have a chance of selling, educating or effecting any kind of change for your readers. You are constantly competing for space and time in the mind of your competitors and every other distraction your should-be customers have to deal with.

This study on the psychology and application of attention will help give you an edge in this battle.

(You may also like to check out Attention-Jacking with Terry Crews)


Get Attention With These Not-So-Average Marketing Ideas

Attention Marketing

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.” ~ Steuart Henderson Britt

Marketing your business using the same methods everyone else is using isn’t much better.

One of the biggest problems any business has these days is getting and keeping the attention of their should-be clients and customers. Another problem that many of entrepreneurs and solo professionals have is that they have no idea what to do to stand out from everyone else who’s trying to get attention (not just the competition).

Many also fear doing something they’ve never done before or something that seems risky.

During times like these, being bold enough to take risks and step outside of your normal comfort zone may be what it takes to make your marketing work. A lack of courage may leave you unnoticed and under-appreciated as the expert you are.

In his constant quest to share practical marketing insights, tactics and strategies, Steve Lahey invited me to share a few “outside-the-box” marketing ideas with his audience. Check out the 30-minute interview, Creative Marketing Ideas for Solo Professionals.

In the half hour, Steve and I spoke about 3 proven tactics that are rare enough to be ridiculously effective:

  1. direct mail
  2. “best buyer”/influencer outreach and
  3. a unique kind of live, in-person event.

If an injection of fresh thinking might rekindle the spark in your promotional efforts, I think this is a pretty good investment of your time. Even if you don’t use the techniques mentioned, the thinking behind them and the reasons they’re effective are sure to be thought-provoking and inspiring.

My personal philosophy of business and marketing comes out pretty strongly here, too.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the interview. I’d also love to hear about your favorite outside-the-box marketing ideas in the comments below.



Why I Only Teach One Kind of Telepathy

Did you see the marketing prank Sony did to promote the movie ‘Carrie’ last fall? It’s very clever and quite amusing when you know what’s going on. If you’ve never seen it, you should watch it. The video is less than 2.5 minutes. Even if you have seen it, you’ll probably enjoy watching it again.

[ The prank is about telekinesis, not telepathy, but I’ll come back to that because I teach one form of that, too. ]

Telepathy is transmitting a message from your brain directly to another person’s brain. And far from being confined to the fantasy world of sci-fi and horror movies, it is real. It is the force that moves nations as well as individual citizens like you and me.

“It’s amusing when you stop to think about it – for years people have argued about whether or not such a thing exists…and all the time it’s been right there, lying out in the open… All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing offers the purest distillation.”
~ Stephen King

Plato’s Republic. The Communist Manifesto. The Bible. The course of history has been shaped by the words written in these books.

Advertising words have also influenced culture, changed perceptions and built empires:

“This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?” (Who can forget that one?)
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”  (At the time of his death Forrest Mars and two of his sons were the 29th, 30th and 31st riches Americans)
“A diamond is forever.”  (In 1939 only 10% of engagement rings had diamonds. By 1990, 80% did, largely because of the marketing efforts of the De Beers diamond cartel)

You Are Telepathic, Too…

…but you have to be intentional about it. Rule number one of selling is that nothing sells itself, no matter how good it is.

The people who should be your customers

  • don’t know you exist
  • don’t know there’s a solution for their problems at all
  • are already buying from the competition or
  • aren’t ready to buy yet.

The survival and success of your business depends on you proactively fixing each of those issues.

You need to get your sales message your should-be customers’ minds. That’s telepathy.

Then, you need to get those people to take action based on the message you delivered. That’s telekinesis.

The telepathy part
Create an appealing message. Consider what will appeal to those should-be customers; that’s more important than what you think is cool about your product. The approach most likely to get the right kind of attention is to address, in an interesting way, a topic that has a big impact on them.

Very few things get our attention like problems we’re facing right now.

(Check out the P.S. below for a partial list of ways to deliver your messages)

In that first instant, you must identify who you’re talking to (your should-be customers) and why they should continue paying attention. You can plainly state what kind of benefit they’ll get or you can tease them along with mystery. Both work well in certain situations.

Keep them interested by continually letting the reader/viewer/listener what’s in it for him. In the case above, the reader will have a happier wife, more productive communication, less time sleeping on the couch, etc.

The telekinesis part:

Let should-be customer know how to take advantage of your offer. Make the decision as easy as possible for him; remove as many obstacles (real or imagined) as possible. Help him see what he’ll be missing if he doesn’t take action.

Of course, not everyone will receive the message you’re sending out, and not everyone will move the way you hope. That’s just how these things work. But you have to realize that people everyone has needs and desires, and there’s a segment of the population for whom your product or service is the perfect solution. You would do them (and yourself) a disservice by not trying to get your thoughts into their minds and help them make choices that are in their best interest.

I’ll be sharing the best insights I’ve got on this topic during tonight’s Irresistible Offers teleseminar. If you’d like to improve your telepathic and telekinetic abilities, head over to to get registered. (I refuse to under-deliver, and my money-back guarantee confirms the fact).

P.S. Here’s a partial list of telekinesis delivery methods, in no particular order:

Writing blog posts or articles, on your site or other sites your target customers is likely to follow
Write for magazines, newsletters or trade journals
(Self) Publish and promote a book
Build and communciate with an email list. Or “borrow” someone else’s list
Real mail
Interview or be interviewed in traditional media (radio, TV, newspaper), Google Hangout, podcast, etc.
Youtube or Vimeo. Not (necessarily) being cool or funny, but educating, offering value and being helpful
Banner ads online
Space ads in newspapers or magazines
Pay-per click
Radio or TV commercials
Make phone calls
SMS mobile marketing
Social media

If you need help figuring out which of these channels will work for you, or if you’re not sure how to best use them to communicate your message, feel free to get in touch.




I usually don’t gush with praise for TV commercials, but Old Spice did something brilliant here.

Sure, it’s loud, over the top and a bit obnoxious, but there’s a powerful lesson to be learned (p-p-pardon the p-p-pun).

If you want your advertising to be profitable, you have to grab your audience’s attention. There are an infinite ways to do this, most of which don’t involve putting your head through a wall (or making the volume on your commercial super-loud, as many advertisers are doing these days. Shouting at your customers is rarely a good way to build relationships or get them to buy).

This commercial is great because it was as unexpected as any I’ve ever seen. Terry Crews literally hijacked a Charmin spot. Viewers had their attention focused (to a greater or lesser degree) on bath tissue, only to be rudely interrupted…in an unforgettable and creative way.

What can you do to hijack your audience’s attention? You can’t sell to them until you do.