Generating More Leads With Great Hooks
“Are we in the dark ages of content marketing?”
This controversial quote comes from Barry Feldman in an article on MarketingProfs, published back in February.
“far too many B2B marketers are poking around in the dark, compromising their content marketing efforts with a lack of leadership, planning, customer empathy, content asset management, and analytic processes”
The article addressed several problems with content marketing in 2017, and can be read here.
But one problem was glossed over. And that was the sheer volume of content being created today. With everyone and their grandmother now engaged in content marketing, how can you hope to be heard above the noise? How can you drag your content out of the so-called “dark ages”?
Dragging your content into the light
There’s a simple way to make your content stand out from all that noise and get noticed by the right people: start writing better headlines and hooks.
This is something you can do today.
And by the way, most science companies are terrible at this. So it’s not that hard to stand out once you grasp the basic concept.
Drawing in readers starts with the headline. But the lead sentence/paragraph hooks them and makes them want to keep reading. That’s why it’s called a hook. The motivating sequence then keeps them engaged right to the end, where (hopefully) they’ll take the next step.
If nothing else, remember this: scientists (like most people) are busy busy busy – lots of marketing messages to ignore, papers to dissect, presentations to give, and lab research to do.
So grabbing their attention and keeping it isn’t easy.
But a great lead or hook can do the work for you.
A great lead is what makes the difference between an article, email or white paper that gets read, and one that gets buried in the flood of content that’s already drowning your scientific readers.
Taking the time to write great headlines and opening sentences/paragraphs will help you drag your marketing content out of the “dark ages”.
You’ll be heard above the noise so you reach more of your audience.
And here’s another benefit: knowing how to write the opening sentence or paragraph will eliminate writer’s block. So you won’t have to stare at a blank screen, wondering what to write, ever again.
Below are 7 ideas to get you started.
7 Hook Ideas to Draw Your Readers in Like a Moth to a Flame
Hook Idea #1: Ask an engaging question
Take a look at the beginning of this issue. It opens by asking an engaging question:“Are we in the dark ages of content marketing?”
This also happens to be a quote (see Idea #2 next). Asking a question is an effective way of drawing readers into your copy, since questions peak curiosity. People are also wired to answer questions, and find it hard to ignore them.
Hook Idea #2: Start with an interesting quote
Here’s a hook I used for an application note a while back, promoting an atomic force microscope:
“…while countless breakthroughs have been announced over the last decade, time and again these advances have failed to translate into commercial batteries with anything like the promised improvements in cost and energy storage.”
This was quoted directly from a science article, and introduces readers to the problem at hand (see Idea # 5 below).
Hook idea #3: Start with a benefit
Here’s a hook I used for a press release about a new research discovery:
“A team of researchers has established that variation of a gene may have a role in protecting cancer patients from developing chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment”
Starting with a benefit is copywriting 101, but is often neglected in content used to market and sell technical products.
Hook idea #4: Give a vital or shocking statistic
Here’s one I used for a mini-white paper I wrote for an instrumentation company selling analytical equipment. It gives a shocking statistic that draws readers in to the copy:
“Almost 700 million people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s 2015 Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water”.
Hook idea #5: Focus on the problem
Another classic copywriting technique is introducing the problem at the start. Here’s one I wrote for a report aimed at helping research scientists:
“It’s a simple fact that most research grant applications are rejected. As an example, the European Research Council (ERC), representing 17% of the overall Horizon 2020 budget, has funded some 6000 projects out of more than 60,000 applications since it started in 2007”
Note that this focuses on the problem (rejection of funding applications), and also gives a statistic (like #4 above).
Here’s one that’s more scientific, and was used for an application note:
“Lithium is an ideal metal for use in lithium-ion battery anodes due to its high energy density and high theoretical capacity. However, the two main difficulties impeding the incorporation of Li anodes into secondary batteries are the formation of an unstable solid electrolyte interface (SEI) and the formation of dendrites which can cause the battery to short-circuit. These issues have plagued the development of Li-ion battery technology for decades. So an understanding of the nanoscale mechanism behind these processes is critical to overcoming these limitations.”
Lots of jargon here, but it works if you’re writing it for scientists in Li-ion battery research.
Hook idea #6: Paint a picture
Painting a picture in someone’s head can be used to show empathy. If the picture is similar to what they experience on a daily basis, they’ll likely read the rest of your copy. Here’s an opening paragraph for a microscope buyer’s guide:
“Imagine the following scenario: You’re a life scientist and you’ve just received project funding. You have limited microscopy experience and you’re now faced with the daunting task of choosing a microscope for your research. Maybe someone senior to you has just given you this job, or you’ve been thinking about it for a while. Either way, the responsibility now rests squarely on your shoulders. How do you make the right decision?”
Hook idea #7: Tell your reader what they’ll get
Sometimes, it’s best to start at the end. Telling your audience what they’ll get from reading your content is effective, because busy scientists don’t like reading long documents unless they know what’s in there. For instance:
“Starting your research project off the right way is critical for success. After getting funded, many researchers stumble around in the dark and hope for the best. They’re not sure what they should do first, or how to consistently move their project forward. This short report lists 7 steps you can take immediately to ensure you get your project off to a good start.”
Notice how the end of the paragraph tells the reader exactly what they’ll get from reading the article. And it gives a concise summary.
Next time you create a piece of content, take the time to write an engaging headline and hook. Making this a habit will help you drag your scientific and technical marketing content out of the “dark ages”.
And you’ll eliminate writer’s block forever, because you’ll never be stuck for something to say.
Now go back to the start of this article and see how many of these 7 ideas you can spot.
Until next time,