How to "clear your throat" in print, and… how not to:
If you go online (Wait a minute, if you’re reading this, you are online, right?)…
O.K., let’s start this again. If you Google the name “James C. Humes,” you’ll find loads of really cool quotes attributed to him.
That’s because Humes was a ghostwriter who wrote speeches for five different U.S. Presidents: Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush (the first one). He’s also the author of “Confessions of a White House Ghost Writer.”
A quick wit, here’s one of Humes’ quotes: “Churchill wrote his own speeches. When a leader does that, he becomes emotionally invested with his utterances. If Churchill had had a speech writer in 1940, Britain would be speaking German today.”
Now one of the biggest problems with speeches, and with writing copy, is your opening. See, the opening of your sales letter or lead generation piece, or the front page of your website, is critical. It’s no different than your opening line when you meet someone for the first time.
To be effective, you simply MUST get this opening to be engaging and provocative.
Humes refers to slow and lethargic speech openings, as “throat clearings.”
You don’t want to open your sales letter with the print version of a “throat clearing.” What you want to do instead, is get right to it. Let ’em know why they’re here and what’s in it for them if they stick around.
Validate the headline they just read, or shock the daylights out of them. Here are a few simple examples of that:
* It’s true!
* Vacationing in Paris is exciting, as long as you don’t make the one critical mistake that landed this family in the equivalent of your local county slammer.
* Did you know there’s a deadly chemical used in the manufacturing process of your child’s baby food?
As John Caples once said, “You will never lose a reader in the first paragraph, by amplifying the idea which stopped him in the first place.”
Remember, don’t ever “clear your throat” when you open up a sales letter. When you do that, all that comes out is phlegm.
Now go sell something, Craig Garber
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