How to Grab Attention and Keep It!

Boring, boring…blah, blah, blah…nobody will ever read the rest of this paragraph.  Why?  Because it does not grab attention!  Ok, well, maybe writing out boring and blah blah will grab attention, but it brings up an interesting point: The hardest thing to do in the writing business is to grab the attention of a reader.  What is the second hardest thing to do?  Keeping that attention once it has been successfully grabbed.  Unfortunately, grabbing attention and keeping it is easier said than done.  There are a few timeless techniques that will help one more effectively attract the attention of more readers and keep that attention on what matters most: the copy.

Ask Questions…Especially Yes Questions

One of the most effective ways to start out any text is with posing a question.  Instead of viewing the relationship is bidirectional, consider a text to be a tool for collective problem solving.  Of course, the reader is not going to be able to change the text, but there is nothing at all wrong with asking a question and then guiding them to an answer.  Asking follow up questions or questions to bring up other points is also a great idea for the exact same reason that salespeople often ask ‘yes’ questions.  For example:

“Have you ever wondered if there was a way to make more money with little effort?  Have you wanted the financial freedom that comes from a little extra income?  Are you willing to do what it takes to become financially successful and achieve those dreams?  Is it worth $10 to start and find out how?” – In this example we see a series of questions that have ‘yes’ answers that are likely to result in a ‘yes’ response to the final question.

‘Yes’ questions are questions to which an affirmative answer is known, or assumed to be known, before the question is asked.  Questions like: You and your family sure look happy…you are happy right?  You love your family don’t you?  You want to keep your family safe right?  Did you know that our new car has a 5-star crash rating and beats everything in its class for safety?  More intelligent variants of these same questions can be used with more sophisticated readers, but what works for the used car salesman typically works for the copywriter.

Phrases…Especially Those With a Zen Quality

Well known phrases, especially idioms that have a Zen-quality to them, can generate a lot of interest.  Many readers like to seem sophisticated and purchase products that make them feel more sophisticated.  Adding value by adding class and sophistication that customers can use in a conversation is a great way to effectively write striking quality.  Whether or not timeless works such as the Tao Te Ching is being butchered or not in the process is hard to say, but the audience wants what the audience wants: a good reason to keep reading and a better reason to buy.  Great examples of this include phrases such as water finding its own level.

Redundancy can be Good or Bad

Redundancy is a double-edged sword that can be both good and bad depending upon the target audience.  In cases where one is trying to drive home the questionable value of a product to a relatively gullible audience, redundancy might be good.  After all, anyone looking to make their member or breasts larger with a ‘miracle’ pill may need to hear just how effective a treatment is several times before they click on the ‘buy’ button.

Most copywriters will have to deal with these kinds of tasks at some point in time, but keep in mind the selling most products will involve a little more discretion.  There is no reason to add redundancy and additional words unless the pacing of an article seems too quick, and even then there may be good arguments about reducing extraneous words, phrases, or even paragraphs.  The bottom line is that knowing the audience will help one make a more informed decision.

Written by

Chad Weirick is a global traveler, ghostwriter, teacher, and father. His hobbies include reading, languages, mixed martial arts, photography, digital media, blogging, and spending time with his family.



  • Mike Roosa says:

    Good points Chad. I think another way of keeping the readers attention is to try to relate to your readers by sharing a story. Also, try to talk to your readers and not at them. What do you think?

  • Thomas Scott says:

    Good post, Chad – getting and holding attention is always key. I’m a former newspaper writer and we called that ‘writing with impact’ – impact was the quality of a story or package that made people stop and dig in.
    In today’s content-rich market, that is more important than ever.
    We use former journalists to do our writing and it pays off – they are trained to do this at many levels and the content reads more like a story and less like marketing or pr content.

    • Nick Reese says:

      Thomas, that is an awesome point. So many people jump for the cheapest price, but that really isn’t a long term solution. I like the idea of using journalists as so many are unemployed right now. It would be win-win.

  • Chad says:

    Thomas hit the nail on the head! I just wonder how long content can remain king without something to be ‘queen’ next to it. I’m thinking that social media and/or networking will one day be referred to as ‘queen’ or some other form of royalty in the same breath.

  • The Rambling Taoist says:

    I don’t think you grasp Taoism at all. It’s not a marketing ploy.

    • Chad says:

      Nobody said that Taoism is a marketing ploy, especially not someone such as myself who has lived in China for most of the past decade and seen how a society influenced by Taoist ideas has thrived. Instead, as the post clearly states, phrases with Zen-like quality are easy ways draw and keep attention.

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