- Kathleen Gage broke her ankle training for the Portland marathon
- What Sherman Hu had at his barbeque for dessert
- That an internet marketer made $21,365
- How to avoid throwaway lines in article writing
Which of these messages or posts do you think I opened first? Which got my attention the most? The least? (I sound like Keith Olbermann's MSNBC opening line, "Which of these stories will we be talking about tomorrow?"
Easy, I put them in the order I remembered them, and that's the order in which they got my attention.
Here's why, here's the lesson you need to pay attention to if you're writing blog posts or sending email messages to make an impact.
- I know Kathleen and really care about her well-being. I get a lot of messages from her because, like other online marketers, she promotes a lot of her programs. But even if I didn't know her personally, I think I'd want to find out how she broke her ankle. Human curiosity.
- I also have met Sherman at conferences, but I could care less about what he had for dinner. However, because I subscribe to an email blog service, Posterous, I get emails of his posts, and he's obsessive about sharing pictures of good food. Some are very funny, so I'm always curious. Furthermore, and this is important, Sherman shares so many intimate details about his daily life, things he sees, things he eats, that I feel like I really know him well!
- I could care less that this guy made $21,365 on the Internet, but I'm curious as to why he thinks it's important enough to email me to tell me. Just wanted to see if he had anything interesting to say about it, and he didn't. Yawn, and <Delete>…
- I'm a writer for hire, so I'm always interested in what other writing experts say about good writing. This post had another key term that intrigued me more, "words that haunt," and had he put those in the headline, I would have opened it sooner.
My point is that if you want to get read. you have to make the headline or subject line intriguing AND personal. Make me curious, make me care.
Obviously, this is harder to do if you're a big company, and that's why you need to develop a personality or persona who can communicate with readers. Pick a voice, a real person who can become spokesperson, either an excellent writer or the head of the company, or both.
The task isn't easy. How do you know what to share and what to keep private? Kathleen is telling everyone on her emailing list (thousands!) about her broken foot, and I'm sure it will be posted soon on her blog as well.
She uses her personal misfortune to teach others the right kind of attitude to have in adversity. If you have a cold, are you going to share that with readers? Maybe, if you can tie it in with something relevant for your readers.
You may not want to post pictures of your last meal with family on your blog, like Sherman does. But there's something strangely appealing to the way he does it. Remember, skimmers are in a hurry, and want the message lickety-split. Pictures work instantaneously to make an impact. They're quick, and intimate.
Another quick way to reach into people's minds and hearts is through video, because you get sight and sound and, hopefully, personality all in the blink of an eye.
I don't know about you, but as a skimmer, I won't open an video unless the headline really intrigues me, and it's short. Anything over 2 minutes is too long.
What's your opinion about video length? Shorter than 2 minutes? 1 minute, 30 seconds? What about 12 seconds? I'm checking out 12SecondsTV.com coming soon…