According to a Harvard study, people spend almost half the day daydreaming. As a marketer, that means you'll have to work harder to get your prospect's or customer's attention.
If you want to catch fish, you'll need a hook.
The same goes for people. If you want to catch people with your advertising, you'll need to have a marketing hook.
Think about when was the last time you saw ads. Chances are, it wasn't too long ago. What made you stop and take a look at a particular ad?
It's highly likely the ad "hooked" you in some way.
We are inundated with information everywhere daily. Your audience only glances at an ad for an average of three seconds and decides if it is worth continuing to pay attention to it. If it is, the glance turns into a stare. Otherwise, attention is lost.
Your headline may make them read your ad, and you may even have excellent copy written. But, you aren't getting results (sales). What could be wrong?
You're likely missing a great hook.
It's the hook that helps people decide whether to continue reading.
Savvy marketers use hooks extensively to promote a product, service, brand, or company.
Sometimes confused as tag lines, catchphrases, or slogans, hooks are a little different.
Taglines, catchphrases, and slogans are more simplified. They distill the essence of their company into a simple idea and phrase so people can easily digest it and remember it.
Marketing hooks are what set you apart from others, even similar ones. So how does a similar product stands a chance to gain a foothold in a market?
The answer: use a different angle to draw the customer towards the company. That's a hook.
Hooks can be distilled and condensed into a tagline based on the story a company wants to tell about their product or service.
Let's go through a simple example:
Let's say you run a traditional Italian pizza restaurant. The company's story is that your great-great-grandmother developed and perfected this recipe using wholesome, healthy, freshly made ingredients. It sounds similar to other Italian pizzerias, right?
If you wanted a hook, you could say:
"The accidental discovery that made our pizza 10x better than the rest." or "Discover Why This 200-Year-Old Recipe Tastes Out of This World"
Then you describe the story about how your great-great-grandmother accidentally mixed an ingredient in because it spilled into her usual mix, and she was running late and didn't have time to make another batch. She went ahead with it and continued to make the pizza hoping that it'll come out good. To everyone's surprise, it became the best-tasting pizza the family ever tasted.
To develop a slogan, you could distill all of the backstories into:
"A 200-Year-Old Family Tradition of Making Pizza"
"Taste the Difference in Our Traditional Pizza!"
Our landing page and video sales letter guide covered how to create content that engages and converts. However, the missing component you'll need to craft is the hook. Let's bring everything together full-circle.
We'll cover below why a hook is essential in all your marketing and give you some examples of great marketing hooks along with some tagline ideas to adapt into an angle for your product or service story.
Why Do You Need a Good Hook for Your Website Landing Pages?
A great hook acts as an emotional trigger in your ad copy that attracts your prospects. The best marketing hooks are ones that leave a memorable impression and are unique.
Always ask yourself the question: Why should your prospects and customers care about what you are trying to tell them?
The right hook will grab your target audience's attention and give you a chance to communicate your ideas to them. It intrigues your prospects and draws them into your ad copy.
Interestingly, a hook has many uses beyond your usual ads. Hooks are used in content marketing to draw readers into the content and share it with others. Hooks are also useful with emails and cold outreach. Heck, hooks are used in entertainment as well.
In the movie The Matrix, we're drawn further into the story with the statement:
"It's the question that drives us Neo…what is the Matrix."
Now, let's go into the 7 immutable laws for creating attention-getting marketing hooks.
1. Law of Knowledge
Know your customer well.
It's a fact that you can't market effectively to people if you don't know what they want EXACTLY.
You want absolute clarity to whom you are targeting to get the right message to the right person at the right time.
Violating this rule breaks every piece of marketing you do. No matter how you fix the marketing, you won't have a successful campaign without knowing precisely who your customer is.
Create your buyer's persona or avatar with the desire to vividly define and detail all the typical characteristics of your target audience.
Remember, you may have multiple avatars to go after, but you can only target one avatar at a time with your ad.
Prepare to dive deep into the mind of your avatar. To accomplish that, do your research.
The best work you can do is mostly on the preparation to produce your marketing copy. I guarantee that this is time well spent.
If you do detailed research here, you'll save yourself loads of marketing dollars and get significantly better results faster with much less effort.
Use online resources to uncover your customer's wants, desires, emotions, and more. Here are a few you can use:
- Niche Facebook groups
Among the areas to define for your avatar include:
- What places do they like to frequent?
- What shows do they watch?
- What publications do they like to read?
- Which social media sites do they visit?
- What industry conferences do they attend?
- What associations and other business groups do they join?
- What common problems do they face?
- Why should they choose your product or service?
- What needs do they have that are yet unmet?
Marketing to your existing customers also requires marketing hooks. Just because they are already a customer doesn't mean you become complacent.
You will not need to research as much for existing customers because you can ask them how else you can help them. Keep in mind that your customers are still inundated with marketing messages daily, so make sure you do so in a meaningful manner when you reach out.
Consider what stage of the customer journey your prospect or customer is in at the moment. Cater the right message to the right audience at the right time, and you win half the battle.
2. Law of Motivation
What's most important to your prospective customer?
Establish your target audience's pain, problems, and fears. Delve deep into the psyche of your prospective customer.
When it comes to what people ultimately seek to solve their emotional needs and wants, what your customers want falls into two broad motivations. The two basic human needs are to:
- Avoid pain - It could be pain such as fear, insecurity, frustration, past failures, or loss.
- Gain pleasure - It could be fame, acknowledgment, praise, wealth, health, or a sense of achievement.
If you address one or both of them (depending on your prospect), your prospect will respond favorably, and your business will prosper.
People are strongly motivated by the fear of missing out (FOMO) more than gaining something new.
You're scratching their "itch," a want they need satisfied.
If you solve their problem, they'll gladly hand over their money in exchange for your product or service. If there isn't any problem, you can try your hardest to sell, but nothing will come out of it.
Sometimes, your prospect might not even be aware of the problem they have. For sales to happen, you need to understand the problem and that the product or service will solve it. In such a case, educating and demonstrating to the prospect is helpful.
Many men went about their daily lives, oblivious to the problem of always having to replace their shaving razors, and at a high cost. That was until Dollar Shave Club came along and disrupted the market.
Dollar Shave Club offered a simple subscription model for their razors and grooming accessories. No more runs to the drug store to pick up replacements.
3. Law of the Heart
At first glance, it might seem that what motivates people to buy may seem to be simply about solving customers' problems.
While that is true, you need to take it a step further and address the emotional aspects of the purchasing decision to have real success getting customers to reach for their wallets.
You want to paint a picture of the problem for them in a raw, visceral manner, so they feel it.
The extensive research done on your avatar equips you with a vivid picture of your target audience's feelings regarding their current situation.
The benefits customers seek is not at the logical level. Instead, it is on the emotional level. People buy products or services based on emotional needs but will justify it rationally.
Think of it this way: you don't just solve a problem; your product or service solves the way the problem makes them feel.
To advertise to your prospects, invite them into a story. Let them see what they are currently experiencing and how it can change for the better using your product or service.
"Where Work Happens" - Slack
Are you frustrated by time-vampires and low-productivity? Slack offers to come to your rescue. They promise a new way of communicating such that we take back control of our work lives.
"Open Happiness" - Coke
More than 10 years ago, Coca-Cola linked happiness with their eponymous drink. They replaced it with another emotional storytelling ad campaign using "Taste the Feeling."
"The Breakfast of Champions" - Wheaties
Who doesn't want to be a champion? With Wheaties, everyone can accomplish it merely with breakfast.
"Be All You Can Be" - US Army
Aspiring young people always seek something better. The US Army promises a better you with their campaign.
"The Ultimate Driving Machine" - BMW
Thrills, confidence, power, and exhilaration. These are some of the feelings this tagline exudes.
4. Law of Clarity
It's better to be precise than cute or clever. There should be no ambiguity or confusion with a well-crafted hook. It drives home one central idea that leads to your call-to-action and nothing else.
I love the picture Saddleback Leather paints with both their tagline and hook:
"They'll fight over it when you're dead."
This tagline segues into their durability guarantee of a hundred years and makes a case for you to want their leather products.
Here's one that's instantly recognizable.
"Melts in Your Mouth, Not In Your Hands" - M&Ms
Paired with a picture of chocolate, it drives home the problem that many chocolate lovers face after eating chocolate - messy fingers and hands. In one fell swoop, they conquered the idea of messy and tasty.
Here are additional tips:
Use statistics, numbers, or social proof where appropriate.
"Billions and billions served."
What comes to mind?
MacDonald's, right? It's an idea that sticks.
It could also be as simple as "7 tips to…" or "11 ways you can…" These also draw your prospect into the copy and make them want to know what the tips or ways specifically are.
Arouse Curiosity - Make your prospect want to know more of the story with a curiosity laden hook. Starting your sentence with "What if I told you…" leaves the reader wanting more.
"This book could put you on easy street while it puts us in jail."
Doesn't that make you want to know what "this book" is?
"Do you make these mistakes in English?
It makes you clamor to know whether you make the same mistakes they are proposing.
Use Intrigue/Mystery - Another strategy is to let them in on a secret. People love secrets. Let them in on information never revealed before. It gives them a sense that they are getting exclusive access.
A classic ad headline with specific numbers and promises to reveal a secret reads:
"Amazing Secret Discovered By One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards to Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks and Slices... and Can Slash Up to 10 Strokes From Your Game Almost Overnight."
5. Law of Congruence
Ensure your hook maintains the ad scent. Be consistent with your messaging. If an ad that drives traffic to the landing page promises one thing, make sure when the sales landing page offers the same thing.
Maintain ad-scent through to the call-to-action (CTA) with consistent messaging.
6. Law of Priority
Be customer-centric, not product-centric.
Your primary focus of marketing is the customer, not the product. Want to sell more of your product or services? Prioritize your customer's needs and wants. It doesn't matter what the product or service does until the customer feels like it matters to them.
Even when you know your customer well and understand what drives their decisions, sometimes we get so excited to talk about our product or service that we forget about who it serves.
Always check to see if you talked about the customer, not only about your product or service. Focus more on them and how solving it makes them feel (future-casting). Let them see how their life changes with the use of your product or service.
Here's an excellent exercise you can do to check yourself.
Whenever you've finished your copy, step back, and review it for all the instances where you talk about your prospect or customer. Circle all those instances and look at the entire piece in its entirety. If you see lots of circles, you're on the right track. If not, go back and sprinkle more phrases or sentences about your prospect or customer.
7. Law of Simplicity
Be succinct. These are simple KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) ads. Simple sells.
In sales, there's a saying: a confused mind always says no.
Some of the most famous brands came up with great taglines that defined their brand. Among them:
"Think Different" - Apple
"Think Big" - IMAX
"Just Do It" - Nike
"A Diamond is Forever" - DeBeers
"Don't Leave Home Without It" - American Express
They may be successful taglines but making ideas simple drives sales.
The human brain processes an incredible amount of information daily. All this information processing comes at a cost. The brain gets tired quickly, and to conserve energy, it switches to daydream mode.
I love how Donald Miller of StoryBrand puts it:
"People do not buy the best products and services. They buy the ones that they can understand the fastest."
To understand something fast, it needs to be simple. Attention spans are short and getting shorter every year. Deliver your message quickly, or it won't have a chance.
The number of ads competing for our attention today is enormous. To overcome the barrage of ads, we need to find a way to cut through all the noise and deliver our message.
An awesome marketing hook does just that. Boring ads or bland messages don’t get the message we want across with the short attention spans of quick-to-click away digital natives.
With awesome hooks that pique your prospect's interest, you get an opportunity to reel them into your sales copy, and only then do you have a chance to sell your product or service.
Follow the above seven immutable laws when forming your next marketing hook. Violate them at your own risk.
Have any examples you’d like to add? Feel free to comment below!
About the Author: Anthony Yap is a digital marketing expert who crafts compelling brand stories and builds automated marketing systems to drive leads and increase revenue for clients.