If you like to fish, you know whatever is at the end of your line is there to catch the fish’s attention.
It might look like a bug (dinner in fish talk). Sparkly (not just a human interest), or it might even smell good (smell is in the nose of the beholder, catfish bait stinks!).
Regardless of the type of bait, the goal is
to get the attention of the fish, to literally
get them hooked.
That attention could also be called curiosity.
I write about curiosity a lot because I have several clients in the education/training space. Curiosity is a driver of learning. As a baby, my younger daughter touched EVERYTHING. If she didn’t get enough information by touch, it went into her mouth. It drove her grandma crazy and kept me on uber alert for a few years.
As a person grows, that curiosity frequently begins to wane. It’s unfortunate. Curiosity is often what causes us to experiment and learn new things.
That waning curiosity also explains some of the headlines and subject lines we read. Where the word “sale” by itself used to be effective, it’s not enough anymore. We’ve seen it too often.
When reading through my emails, I received a list of “emotional trigger words.” I studied them for a while. But I don’t think they’re emotional words at all. I think they evoke curiosity.
Would you go to a “secret” sale? What’s being sold? It better be something interesting. Fool me once…
“Banned, censored, and illegal” will also gain attention.
Headlines and subject lines are scrutinized. Do they deliver on what they promise? If they don’t, interest in your emails and articles will wane.
When I was a kid, there was a series of bright red signs on I-70 about a “unicorn” that you could see at exit 248. Those signs captured my attention. I always asked my dad to stop, and one day he did. My family of five pulled into the dusty parking lot in front of the sketchy looking barn.
I was the youngest and flew out of our car ready to see my first unicorn. My dad said, “slow down.” I did because I didn’t want the stop to end before it even started.
My brother and sister were rolling their eyes at me. Mom was wondering if they had a bathroom and how dirty it would be. Dad motioned me to the barn and said, “Let’s go see your unicorn.”
I was bouncing up and down. It didn’t matter how bad the barn smelled or that there were lots of flies. In retrospect I suppose the old man who collected the entrance fees was smirking rather than smiling, but I was going to see a UNICORN!
In the first pen was a miniature horse that snapped at my sister when she tried to pet it.
Next was a humongous pig that smelled so bad even my enthusiasm began to wilt.
The sign said the unicorn was around the next corner. I pulled my dad’s hand trying to get him to speed up. We were about to behold an amazing site.
We turned the corner, and there it was…
A goat. A goat with one horn. It wasn’t a particularly attractive goat. It wasn’t large, small, cute, or shiny.
My brother and sister were back to eye rolling and elbowing each other while they laughed at me. Mom said she wouldn’t use the restroom there if they paid her, and dad told me, “Not everybody tells the truth.”
Curiosity can get folks in the door, but it won’t guarantee a sale. Make sure to live up to the hype you create. In addition to curiosity, it’s good to add something useful to your headlines. Afterall, if you’re not offering value, what are you offering? Hopefully, not a one-horned goat.