New Strategies To Attract Attention To Your Marketing

(Use Proven Marketing Rules On Your Modern Website)

Unread adverts/websites/leaflets gain no clients!

'Normal Marketing' cannot attract the new clients you want.

Examining the normal list of fundamental stages for marketing we can see the problems from the professional's point of view:

1. Get Attention – “That doesn't come naturally to us.” - THIS EDITION
2. Promise an Advantage – “But our 'products' are invisible!”
3. Prove that Advantage – “This is difficult to communicate too.”
4. Convince People they will Gain – “We can't guarantee results.”
5. Ask for Action – “Informed consent complicates this too.”

"What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form."
David Ogilvy, Scottish father of American advertising.

[Compiled from MORE Marketing Tips - a short series on Getting Attention,
based on the Short Thoughts blog at]

The nature of professional work makes marketing difficult
  • There are elements of traditional marketing that often can't be used
  • The professions have difficult-to-describe aspects of their services
  • The emotion-laden client is usually more sensitive about what to expect

So the professions cannot design their marketing materials exactly as other businesses do.

Table of Contents

“Getting Attention doesn't come naturally to us”
      Headlines REALLY aren't born equal
      Swap Targets: Use The Illogical Route
     Ease Access For Preoccupied Minds

“Getting Attention doesn't come naturally to us”

Professionals are generally conservative by nature.
They feel uncomfortable with self-promotion. And they often dislike talking bluntly about 'marketing'.

Yet encouraging the right people to ask for appropriate services in a timely and profitable fashion is too important to be left to chance. It has to be done. Somehow.

All the same, it remains hard for professionals to stay energetic with this.

They tend to put together adverts, leaflets and websites, and then wait hopefully...

Of course, in any firm, it's likely that there will be some extroverts among the introverts. It's a useful psychological range of character.

Never-the-less the group as a whole will wish to retain a brand of being fairly quiet compared to commercial sales-people. They will try to avoid being seen as pushy, shallow and sales-motivated.

This attitude is understandable, but carries some risks.

DANGER ONE: Not being seen

Your conservatism is perhaps your biggest risk. It means not attracting enough attention to your website. Any form of advertising that does not get seen cannot do its work. Getting a website built is only the first stage.

DANGER TWO: Not being understood

Second biggest is your website not being read through enough to get fair consideration. There are so many adverts all around us these days – we all get good at tuning them out (without even deciding to!). That means that special techniques are necessary to hold the readers' attention for long enough.

DANGER THREE: Not saying enough

Another risk is omitting aspects of your service that potential clients might want to know about. Or describing them in words your readers will not recognise. They will assume you do not do those things and then look elsewhere. That's a tragedy!

Useful Info':

Attention-grabbing, and holding, techniques can be quite subtle.
Loud and intrusive is not necessary.
It is a matter of aiming at what your Ideal Clients are already interested in.

Headlines REALLY aren't born equal

Now we're really taking copy-writing to bits to examine how you can improve your results.

Your headline is read 5 times more often than the rest of your advert.

David Ogilvy – the Scottish father of American advertising – said this after years of testing.

So if your headline isn't appealing, your offer doesn't get read.
And then you waste 90% of the money you spent on it as a result.

There are many formats for headlines that can be adapted. These 8 formats are tried and tested winners: Surprise, Questions, Curiosity, Negatives, How To, Numbers, “You”, Specifics.

For instance, a recent study showed that headlines containing questions increase enquiries by up to 36%. Other findings show that negative headlines outperform positive ones with 69% more clicks.

Tune your headline very diligently

- it's the most important part of your advert!

I did:
This headline that enticed you to open the email [read this section]:

Headlines REALLY aren't born equal”

...took a good half-an-hour of testing a variety of options for its eye-catching emotive impact.

My first attempt that started this was “Why Are All Headlines Not Born Equal?”.

You'll probably recognise a crie de coeur, but 15 experiments later – after some titles getting to twice as long as that, I came down to the final choice.

It takes more work than you'd usually want to put into it.

If you'd like a few comments about your next headline – send me a copy and I'll respond as quickly as I can – FOC – with some ideas. Then we should talk.

Swap Targets: Use The Illogical Route

How creative copy-writing can attract attention in very unusual ways to improve your results.

Certain people are likely to be more interested in your marketing than the actual buyer you would normally want to talk to.

This means you can create a useful indirect route by targetting those people who influence the buyers rather than the buyers themselves.

For example, a highly successful advert in the US a century or so ago (much copied since) had a headline saying “For women who's husbands don't...”.

The whole text of the advert was given over to explaining to these wives why the product would help these men who usually ignored it.

An Adaptable Route Through Difficulties

This technique can easily get into couples, families, communities and businesses when the direct approach ends up in the bin, pending in the in-tray or at the mercy of the DELETE button.

Several different professions might benefit from it, especially solicitors and chartered surveyors.

You could write "For FD's who want to help senior colleagues save money".
You don't actually need to send that to the FD; if the MD reads that in an email subject line, he or she is likely to open it out of curiosity.

Or if it is an trade magazine advert or a newsletter, it could be a junior team member who brings it to the MD's (or FD's) attention.

Even more circuitous is the "If they had asked me..." route.
Here you do a similar thing by portraying the thoughts of an influencer. But this time, the influencer could be outside the family or business - like a bank manager, accountant or even insurance adviser... or you!

A Surprisingly Powerful New Recourse

Curiously, this approach can work better than addressing the head of the family or the MD directly.

This is because there is a hidden recommendation inside the conversation between the two people (ie FD and MD, junior and senior, wife and husband).

When you provide all the facts to the influencer and they think it relevant, it is almost like they second your proposal.

So if you know who's frustrated with your firm's advertising and would like a few really new suggestions for your next promotion (website, email, leaflet, etc) – suggest they read these ideas above.

And tell them they are welcome to get in touch for more inspiration. I'll respond as quickly as I can to inject new know-how and re-vitalise your attention-grabbing projects.

Ease Access For Preoccupied Minds

How creative copy-writing can attract attention and reassure nervous visitors for best results.

Once they've arrived on your website, you want visitors want to stay and read and form an emotional bond with you.

[As I do in this writing -
so let me warn you that this insight takes longer than usual to explain as I am taking it slowly. This because I'm going to recommend something that contradicts other advice you will probably receive.]

The ideal is to keep them for over 3 minutes - that shows they are really interested in your writing and it predicts they are twice as likely to come back if they leave.

That may be how long it takes for people to read enough to take the next step with confidence.


The latest statistics on bouncing out - ie leaving your website before you want them to - show that on average you have less than a blink of an eye to make a favourable first impression.

Aim to prevent 'bounce out'

People form their first impressions of a website within 17 to 50 milliseconds.

A normal human eye-blink gap is 300 to 400 milliseconds!

This first impression all happens so fast it is not a conscious process.
So it happens before the visitor has read anything very much.

This means visitors' judgements are based on the website design more than the text. At least 'above the fold' (ie the screen-full people first see).

Therefore, in the first impressions time-slot, we are just recognising what we see.

That's all we can do that fast.
We haven't got round to understanding it yet.

But even so, we want to make a go/stay decision. And we know we might miss something important. So we have the classic FOMO conflict. Fear Of Missing Out gives us a high anxiety spike for a brief moment.

In fact recent research shows that we will risk more to prevent losing something than we will risk to gain it:

  • Might we lose out if we leave too soon?

  • Or might we just waste time if we stay too long?

That is the mental equation that your website is faced with when a new visitor arrives for the first time. (AKA - a new potential client doing initial research to find a suitable provider.)

Design to reassure

So on first arrival visitors notice the colours, forms, shapes, useful-looking text, meaningful images and clues about what follows... (all in less than the blink of an eye).

At that speed, most of our recognition is probably based on familiarity.

This is because, when we see something new, different, unfamiliar etc. we pay more attention to it to make sense of it. That takes time.

In fact, it takes only 200 milliseconds for adults to know if a face is familiar or not. (It takes twice as long to process an unfamiliar face.)


  • For one thing, brain scans show the processes use different parts of our brain.

  • Your age affects things - it takes older people longer - are your ideal clients older people?

  • And your hormonal state affects the judgement of trust - of whether the picture is understood properly.

These are not really things you can change. So you need to adapt!

Design for familiarity

Despite the normal marketing advice to differentiate your marketing from your competitors, it is very important to make sure your website gives a familiar first impression to keep people on your website as long as possible.

That means:

  • Familiar colours - nothing garish!

  • Normal shapes - mostly rectangles

  • Usual positioning - eg navigation bar at the top

  • Meaningful images - ie not bland, irrelevant or distracting

  • Useful text blocks - the headline being the most important

  • Confirm their arrival - link back to what their query was

  • Quiet hinting what comes next - an index or an introduction

And yet...

As your marketing people will have said, you need to establish a brand. And the wisdom is often to do so ASAP - immediately at the top of your homepage.

But, surely,
NOT at the expense of encouraging enquiries!

If your branding elements - images, logos, colours - put those first-time potential clients off, then your carefully-chosen words cannot convince visitors to enquire.

Here is the balancing act: between portraying your brand and keeping visitors on your site long enough to make the next step - ie to contact you by call or click to enquire about taking up your services.

We're still in the early stages - probably on the first page visitors arrive on (which is NOT necessarily your Homepage).

Decisions about whether to stay or go after tend to peak at 59 seconds - LESS THAN ONE MINUTE!

So the real development work in all this is to clear out all distractions.

Clear the path for your visitors to get to what they want. (This may be different to what we would like to tell them!)

Your brand cannot do its work if people do not stay on your website long enough!

So I suggest that familiarity comes first, brand comes second.

PS If you want to know more about why feelings of familiarity are so important to separate you from your competitors and what you can do to overtake 'normal marketing' with small-but-powerful shifts in style, please check this article.

Review your current website

Get a brief assessment of your Homepage familiarity and reassurance,
and up to five recommendations on how to revitalise it.

This is a snapshot, a brief intellectual exercise that cannot really compete with a trial redrafting example.
For a very small fee (and an undertaking not to abuse this offer) ask to see your Homepage edited according to those recommendations – then you and your colleagues can really understand how it could work for hesitant would-be clients.

Downloadable version available here

PS - There are many, many more strategies for seeking and holding potential clients' attention.
Let's chat to solve your unusual question? Call 01983 614 795.

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