Use These Four Powerful Techniques to Harness Curiosity and Get Noticed

Use These Four Powerful Techniques to Harness Curiosity and Get Noticed


More Clients TV

Use These Four Powerful Techniques to Harness Curiosity and Get Noticed

If you want to build credibility, build trust, build authority and get people to take action – you need a deeper level of attention.

This episode of More Clients TV shows you how to harness curiosity to get potential clients to start engaging with you.

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Four Powerful Techniques for Harnessing Curiosity to Get Noticed

We're looking again at how to get noticed and how to get and keep people's attention so that you can build credibility, trust and authority and get people to take action.

In the last More Clients TV episode we looked at the first step in attention which was immediate attention. That's where you grab someone's attention by doing something different that stands out from everything around it. A bright or different distinctive image, using a meme on a LinkedIn post etc.

The next step in attention is “short attention” where people voluntarily give you just a little bit of their time to see whether it's interesting enough for them to devote more.

So for example they might read the first couple of sentences on your LinkedIn post before clicking “read more”.

They might read the subject line on your email before deciding to open the email.

They might listen to the first couple of minutes on your podcast or your YouTube channel to see whether again they should watch the whole thing.

Short attention and getting that slightly deeper engagement is driven primarily by curiosity. And curiosity comes from having an information gap.

In other words there's a gap between what they know and what they want to know that they feel compelled to fill.

In marketing terms you can create that irresistible gap by giving them a little peek of what they'll find out without giving everything away.

You'll see at the start of a YouTube show someone will say “on this show you're going to learn a, b and c”
– so they're telling you in advance the great things you're going to learn to create an information gap between what you know now and what you'll learn by watching the episode.

In an email subject line they might tell you what you're going to find out inside the email so you click through.

Now the people who are the absolute masters at creating these information gaps are the people who run TV serials like CSI or Lost or Fringe.

It used to be when you watched a TV show that it would open with the title sequence and the theme tune.

They tend not to do that anymore because they found out that the title sequence was the time when most people switched channels or switched off.

Instead today they have what they call a “cold open” where straight into the action to hook you're attention.

In particular they'll always try to create an information gap to make you want to stay tuned through the titles and in to the main part of the show.

That might be seeing an unexpected or inexplicable plot twist. Seeing one of the heroes in peril. Seeing someone murdered but with no clue as to who did it.

In terms of how we can create information gaps with out marketing there are a number of techniques you can use.

The first technique I like to harness curiosity is the use of demonstratives.

Demonstratives are words like “this” or “these”,  “those” or “that”. They allow you to talk about something without naming it specifically. In other words, they let you raise curiosity about what “this”, “these”, “those” or “that” actually is.

This classic newspaper advert written by Max Sackheim for Sherwin Cody's English language correspondence course ran for 40 years it was so successful. And the genius is in the headline: “Do you make these mistakes in English?” .

It doesn't say “Do you make mistakes in English?” to which the response from your internal dialogue is either “yes” or “no” and then you move on.

It asks about “these” mistakes. So your internal dialogue can't help but answer “which mistakes?” and you're driven by curiosity to read on to find out what these mistakes actually are so you can see whether you make them.So you almost can't

This technique works really well in email subject lines. For example “Don't make this career ending mistake!”.

For anyone looking for career advice or who cares about their career, it's almost impossible not to open an email with that subject line.

O course your email has to deliver on the promise. It has to tell them about a career-ending mistake that they should avoid
making. It can't just “bait and switch” to something irrelevant or a minor mistake.  Emails always have to deliver on the promise of their subject line.

The next technique is the use of schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is a wonderful German word meaning that strange delight people have in other people's misfortune. Or in our case, perhaps not delight, but curiosity.

For some reason we're more drawn to find out about bad things that happen than good ones. It's why soap operas are full of drama and crisis rather than joy.

Whenever I write an email with a subject line like “My worst sales meeting ever” or “My big partnership disaster” I always get my best ever open rates.

People want to know about my worst sales meeting ever partially because it will help them avoid making the same mistakes. But also largely because of that very human desire to find out about the bad thing that happened. Harnessing that instinct is a sure fire way of getting a great open rate.

Another useful technique is to use surprising links.

This is where you connect two things that aren't normally connected which drives people to wonder what the strange connection is.

In this TEDx talk from Nashater Deu Solheim she reveals “what working with psychopaths taught me about leadership”.

And, of course, your immediate reaction is surprise: you don't expect psychopaths to be linked with leadership. And then you start wondering “so, what did she learn about leadership from working with psychopaths – it must be something unusual”.

I'll often use this in email subject lines by connecting a concept with a person you don't normally associate with that concept.  “George Clooney's guide to leadership” for example, or “What Steve Martin taught me about marketing”.

If you got an email on “Winston Churchill's guide to leadership” you'd probably ignore it because if you're interested in leadership you've no doubt seen something like that a dozen times before. But George Clooney's guide to leadership will be new and arouse your curiosity.

Again, you've got to deliver on the promise of your subject line. You really must say something interesting and new and valid about George Clooney and leadership in the body of your email otherwise you'll lose the trust of your readers.

Bonus: using well known people from a meaningful era for your target clients will generate extra interest. If your clients are in their 50s they'll have been a teenager in the 80s and in their 20s in the 90s. Exploring life and having some of their most memorable experiences. Most of them will remember icons from those days very fondly. So a subject line making a connection with JR from Dallas or Gazza's tears at Italia 90 may bring back some powerful memories for them.

The final technique is to use “curiosity adjectives“.

This is perhaps the simplest method of all because in essence you're just telling people that they're going to learn something new.

The subtitle of Daniel Pink's book Drive is “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. I'm not going to claim that the use of the word “surprising” is the main reason it sold 2 million copies, but I do know that I'm much more likely to buy a book on “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates” us than I am to buy a book on “The Mundane Truth About What Motivates Us That You Probably Already Knew”!

Don't overuse this technique. If every communication you send promises something unexpected or weird or surprising then your audience is eventually going to tune out those adjectives.

And as ever, you have to deliver on the promise. If you promise something surprising or unexpected in an email subject line you have to make sure that your email really does share surprising or unexpected information.

This is a great technique than can be used in conjunction with others. You can email to tell people “Don't make this unusual career ending mistake” or “My weird sales disaster” or “4 unexpected leadership lessons from George Clooney”.

Using any of these techniques will harness the power of curiosity and get your potential clients to engage with your content. When they do, you stand a chance of earning their “long attention” which we'll cover in our next video.

Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals to attract and win the clients they need using Value-Based Marketing - an approach to marketing based around delivering value, demonstrating your capabilities and earning trust through your marketing.