How to Get and Hold Attention

“We here at The Influencer have long been fans of Roy H. Williams – known to many as The Wizard of Ads. He recently wrote about how to effectively get and hold attention in your advertising. Thanks to Roy for allowing us to share this abridged version with you. Enjoy…”


Pleasant surprise is the foundation of delight. Confusion is the foundation of frustration.

When something unexpected happens, but it makes sense, it is surprising.

When something unexpected happens and it makes no sense, it is confusing.

To get a click online is to get attention.

But to hold that attention requires engagement.

Are you satisfied with getting a click, or would you also like to make the sale?

People who are engaged are looking for closure. They are following a mystery that needs to be solved.

Headlines and subject lines that create a mystery are more effective than those that solve one.

No mystery, no click.

No continuing mystery, no engagement.

The key to holding attention is to introduce a new mystery just as you solve the previous one. This works online exactly as it works in literature, mass media, and entertainment.

The quicker your sequences of mystery and resolution, the more likely you are to hold the attention of your audience. This is what separates good stand-up comics from people who take too long to tell a joke.

Consider the mysteries implied by these famous opening lines:
Call me Ishmael. – Moby Dick

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. — 1984

This is the saddest story I have ever heard. — The Good Soldier

It was a wrong number that started it. — City of Glass

I am an invisible man. —Invisible Man

124 was spiteful. — Beloved

In a sense, I am Jacob Horner. — The End of the Road

They shoot the white girl first. — Paradise

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. — I Capture the Castle

When your subject lines harbor mysteries, you’ll see your open rate rise like the sun on Easter morning. And if you solve that mystery just as you introduce a second one, you will have achieved engagement.

Novelists and playwrights have known this for hundreds of years.
Screenwriters and comedians have known it for decades.
I’m merely suggesting that you might experiment with it in your ads.

Who knows? It might work for ad writers, too.

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HERE is the post in entirety. The Influencer suggests subscribing to the Monday Morning Memo by clicking HERE.  

Roy H. Williams is the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling Wizard of Ads trilogy of business books. His Monday Morning Memos have been read by people worldwide since 1994 and he has never missed a Monday! He and his wife, Princess Pennie, are the founders of Wizard Academy, a 21-acre 501c3 school for entrepreneurs that overlooks the city of Austin, Texas from atop a plateau that rises 900 feet above the city.  The school is administered by a 9-person independent board of directors.

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