Crafting Killer Hooks, step by step methodology?

29 replies
How did you come up with your best hooks?

Do you have a format, methodology, system you'd like to share?
#copywriting #crafting #headlines #hooks #killer #methodology #step
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Here's a good post by Ewen on the subject:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ated-pros.html

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author DavidG
    Study your market. Read what they read. KNOW what's working by reading other promotions.

    You have to know how people are thinking RIGHT NOW in your market. What promises are made. What's believable...etc

    That's the basic thing EVERY copywriter does.

    What I personally do after is write bullet style copy for every sentence I read. Trying to rephrase it to sell my product...

    When I see a post on the forum by a 50 year old lady who is trying to get rid of arthritis and is sick... I make a bullet on how my product can help her.

    And while I do this over and over again I'll slowly shape my selling idea or hook...

    That's me. Other copywriters do things differently. Like use a story from the author, or perhaps expand on USP's...

    It doesn't matter. No one is right.. just what works for you.


    Hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    Aside David G's sage advice my thoughts run to what motivates people to buy a product that you're selling.

    Imagine what motivates someone to buy your product.
    Imagine what they ask when buying it.
    Imagine what their feelings were that motivated them to ask in the first place. When did it happen, when did they realize they had a problem - something that they could actually solve?

    Because their question will be formed around that, and the higher you go in this imaginative journey the more powerful your hooks will be. Because hooks is emotions, you see.

    Oh, and it's real hard to do. That doesn't make it any less effective. What's more, David G's advice can go a long way to discovering this core emotional essence!

    Does this help any? M
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  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    Originally Posted by Mirnova View Post

    How did you come up with your best hooks?

    Do you have a format, methodology, system you'd like to share?
    "Killer hooks are found, not made by an ad writer."

    Carlton always made me feel inferior because I associated hooks as the almost unbelievable story, as in the one legged golfer who humiliates...
    And coming across a story like that would be once in a lifetime occurrence.

    Now I just kill that thought.

    For me it's going on the hunt for the big damn buyer advantage
    which others don't come close to giving.

    It becomes the central theme, the whole piece lives or dies on this one
    big idea.

    Every detail adds more strength, understanding, till it becomes the only choice.

    Yesterday it was Tiger Woods in the golf market.

    Today it was the only press distribution service that goes to the same places as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and McDonald's do.

    We've built in authority and star power.

    You have to hunt them out because even though they are right under a clients nose,
    they don't know how to exploit them for their worth.

    Best,
    Ewen
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  • You can use Carltons method and talk to the client and the staff and you'll often discover an intriguing story. If it's powerful - viola you have your hook.

    Another way is pretend your ideal prospect is fishing with a hook and bait (you're not, they are) but assume they're NOT using the best ones.

    What is it they most want to catch.

    And how can you improve what they're doing and make it easily happen for them.

    Think this through, and you'll find the exact wording for the hook that makes them say "Yup, that's good, it's just what I need and I want it"


    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author deezn
      Originally Posted by Steve The Copywriter View Post

      You can use Carltons method and talk to the client and the staff and you'll often discover an intriguing story. If it's powerful - viola you have your hook.

      Another way is pretend your ideal prospect is fishing with a hook and bait (you're not, they are) but assume they're NOT using the best ones.

      What is it they most want to catch.

      And how can you improve what they're doing and make it easily happen for them.

      Think this through, and you'll find the exact wording for the hook that makes them say "Yup, that's good, it's just what I need and I want it"


      Steve
      Thanks Steve.

      You just gave me a great hook for an Ad for my business. It probably sucks. But hey, I'm not going to get any good until I just start writing. I'm also not a one legged golfer, but hopefully I can craft it in a persuasive manner
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  • Deez,

    Same here I don't play golf and fortunately have got both legs.

    You can always post your "hook" for a critique.

    I know, you have to brave to do it because sometimes they can be a bit harsh.

    But usually you do get a lot of excellent advice.


    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    For me...

    The hook (and central theme) begins with branding.

    What words; what emotion; what circumstances enliven your brand message?

    This becomes a part of your overall branding.

    And it's verbaige you can weave throughout the copy - bringing prospects back to your inevitability. (Thus the term, "Central Theme.")

    A branded hook adds an incredible amount of dimension to your copy and infuses that much needed sense of authority that every single credible campaign requires to stand the test of time.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

      For me...

      The hook (and central theme) begins with branding.

      What words; what emotion; what circumstances enliven your brand message?

      This becomes a part of your overall branding.

      And it's verbaige you can weave throughout the copy - bringing prospects back to your inevitability. (Thus the term, "Central Theme.")

      A branded hook adds an incredible amount of dimension to your copy and infuses that much needed sense of authority that every single credible campaign requires to stand the test of time.

      Mark
      I have a vague idea of what you're trying to say...but this line is pure gobbledegook - "verbaige you can weave throughout the copy - bringing prospects back to your inevitability". You sure you're not a politician?
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        I have a vague idea of what you're trying to say...but this line is pure gobbledegook - "verbaige you can weave throughout the copy - bringing prospects back to your inevitability". You sure you're not a politician?
        How is that gobbledegook?

        If the sale is the inevitability the copy exists to create, then your hook (or Central Theme) MUST usher prospects there.

        No exceptions.

        And yes...

        I am a politician.

        Thanks for noticing bubba.
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        • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

          How is that gobbledegook?

          If the sale is the inevitability the copy exists to create, then your hook (or Central Theme) MUST usher prospects there.

          No exceptions.

          And yes...

          I am a politician.

          Thanks for noticing bubba.
          How is it gobbledegook? Simple. If you don't use language that people understand...you've lost them. BTW one of the meanings of "verbiage" is "an excess of words for the purpose; wordiness." I'm willing to bet that most readers would have no idea what you're trying to say. K.I.S.S.
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      • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        I have a vague idea of what you're trying to say...but this line is pure gobbledegook - "verbaige you can weave throughout the copy - bringing prospects back to your inevitability". You sure you're not a politician?
        It's not unlike that corporate speak that those in charge and those who want to be in charge fall all over themselves for. Big dollar consultants use it all the time. It's exciting for suits because well, for one reason, it gives them the chance to "use" some of the things they learned in college ie. the big words.

        It sounds like you're saying a lot because you're using big words, but when you dig down into it you could be saying anything. Kinda like "At Acme we specialize in optimizing core processes for delineating the ultimate experience" or something like that.

        (Wow - something just hit me about these words and possibly why they really appeal to corporate types so much... it's a hidden or unconscious communication that I never made the connection with before. Wow! Now that's badass!)
        Signature
        Scary good...
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        • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
          Originally Posted by CopyMonster View Post

          It's not unlike that corporate speak that those in charge and those who want to be in charge fall all over themselves for. Big dollar consultants use it all the time. It's exciting for suits because well, for one reason, it gives them the chance to "use" some of the things they learned in college ie. the big words.

          It sounds like you're saying a lot because you're using big words, but when you dig down into it you could be saying anything. Kinda like "At Acme we specialize in optimizing core processes for delineating the ultimate experience" or something like that.

          (Wow - something just hit me about these words and possibly why they really appeal to corporate types so much... it's a hidden or unconscious communication that I never made the connection with before. Wow! Now that's badass!)
          BS.

          Here...

          This might be better for ya:

          Make words.

          Make clever.

          Make sales.

          Mark
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          • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
            Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

            BS.

            Here...

            This might be better for ya:

            Make words.

            Make clever.

            Make sales.

            Mark
            Thanks. My preference out of that lot would be - make words, make sales.

            If you follow the Cosmo/Enquirer school of copywriting, that's how it tends to work. If I were to add anything it would be "make" simple and "make" clear.

            I don't need clever. Clever tends to be mental masturbation for Madison Ave ad execs and academics which is fine if that's who you're marketing to.

            BTW: It wasn't criticism Mark, just an observation.
            Signature
            Scary good...
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            • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
              Originally Posted by CopyMonster View Post

              BTW: It wasn't criticism Mark, just an observation.
              ”The highest form of human intelligence is pure observation without judgments.” Krishnamurti

              The moment you add opinion to observation, it becomes judgment.

              By the way...

              I've contributed here quite a bit.

              If someone doesn't like or resonate with how I choose to communicate, what does coming at me with snarky attitude accomplish?

              I'm asking sincerely.

              What I said in the thread above is exactly what I meant.

              If you don't understand the statement, my bad.

              However...

              I write the way I talk when I'm not working for other people.

              I don't have a college degree, much less a high school diploma to brag about.

              The assumptions we way off.

              Corporate speak my ass.

              If Mal or anyone else actually wanted clarification on my post, then say, "Hey Mark! I didn't understand that. Could you please clarify the statement in another way? Maybe say it in a simpler way? Thanks!"

              Mark
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              • Profile picture of the author verial
                Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

                "The highest form of human intelligence is pure observation without judgments." Krishnamurti
                This statement itself is a judgement.
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              • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
                Banned
                Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post


                Corporate speak my ass.

                If Mal or anyone else actually wanted clarification on my post, then say, "Hey Mark! I didn't understand that. Could you please clarify the statement in another way? Maybe say it in a simpler way? Thanks!"

                Mark
                I'm calling it as I see it. CopyMonster is exactly right - it IS corporate-speak and "clever" is the last thing you want in your copy. Halbert used to say -

                People don't have time for your pathetic subtleties”

                Which means don't try and be too clever. And don't use words that most people don't understand. You're not writing The World's Greatest Novel or a piece for The New York Times. Use simple, short, everyday words in short, simple sentences. In words a 5 year old understands.

                What you have written above is, quite frankly, meaningless drivel.

                But to address the original issue...finding the hook comes down to doing proper research. I would never, ever suggest people farm out their research (as you suggest in one of your blog posts). Writing the copy is the easy part. Once you understand the product it kinda writes itself. Understanding the product and the pitch ...getting to the essence...comes from finding out ALL you can - from proper research. Sometimes the hook comes out of left field - from reading Amazon reviews or what (gasp) people are saying in forums.

                And yes, as usual, I'm being provocative (and I note your "bubba" comeback). I take exception to people that come in here and try to position themselves as experts - without having the chops to back it up. It's a disease in this forum and it doesn't do anyone any favors. You don't know what you're talking about and you're trying to cover your ineptitude with a bunch of corporate speak.

                I just ran your line "verbaige you can weave throughout the copy - bringing prospects back to your inevitability" through Unsuckit and even it couldn't translate it.
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              • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
                Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

                "The highest form of human intelligence is pure observation without judgments." Krishnamurti

                The moment you add opinion to observation, it becomes judgment.

                By the way...

                I've contributed here quite a bit.

                If someone doesn't like or resonate with how I choose to communicate, what does coming at me with snarky attitude accomplish?

                I'm asking sincerely.

                What I said in the thread above is exactly what I meant.

                If you don't understand the statement, my bad.

                However...

                I write the way I talk when I'm not working for other people.

                I don't have a college degree, much less a high school diploma to brag about.

                The assumptions we way off.

                Corporate speak my ass.

                If Mal or anyone else actually wanted clarification on my post, then say, "Hey Mark! I didn't understand that. Could you please clarify the statement in another way? Maybe say it in a simpler way? Thanks!"

                Mark
                Since you asked sincerely Mark -

                Seems you object to the tone of my remarks. I get it. Maybe I was a bit strong and could have worded it differently.

                I still stand by the content though. The big words are more corporate-speak than what you find in plain speak power letters. You know... the ones that jump up above the others and sell product by the truck load.

                Just the other day I was listening to Drayton Bird speaking about one of the many successful letters he has written. This one sold a high priced course to senior corporate executives - the types that had been around the block and had pretty much seen it all. The challenge - since they'd seen it all, what was the value of some course to them? All previous attempts to sell the same course even though it was offered by a highly prestigious institution had been unsuccessful. What struck me was less the words themselves. They were simple, everyday words. It was the psychology and appeal that was masterful.

                The reference to college types finding "big word" communications appealing was not to you. It was actually to corporate suit types. It was in no way a reference to you or your education. And given the details you've offered in your post, I'll admit that I'm closer to the suit than you. I've got more than a few letters I can add to my name from having spent enough time in higher education. And you can add to that quite a bit of time in glass and concrete towers.

                As to your value-add here. I agree.

                And just for fun
                UN-plain language
                Plain language
                Signature
                Scary good...
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    One more thing:

    I personally aspire to always create hooks that inspire prospects to reach higher.

    To expect and want more.

    To feel dissatisfied with their present circumstances.

    To feel reminded that they absolutely deserve more.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author verial
    The only person in this thread that is going to give you a scientific, objective response is me. And here it is:

    1. Write a bunch of headlines however you'd like.
    2. Split-test your headlines and go with the one that converts the best (as per a stat test).

    If you don't have time to split-test, then just hire someone who has experience (i.e., who has split-tested many headlines and has a general idea of what works and what doesn't).

    Anything else is just heuristics.
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    • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
      Originally Posted by verial View Post

      The only person in this thread that is going to give you a scientific, objective response is me. And here it is:

      1. Write a bunch of headlines however you'd like.
      2. Split-test your headlines and go with the one that converts the best (as per a stat test).

      If you don't have time to split-test, then just hire someone who has experience (i.e., who has split-tested many headlines and has a general idea of what works and what doesn't).

      Anything else is just heuristics.
      The OP asked about hooks, not headlines.

      A hook is an engrossing theme, an angle of approach that storms the prospects defenses and addresses his felt need. It's non-obvious. You have to dig deep, think hard and hope the muse is pleased with you.

      Most ads don't have one.
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    • Profile picture of the author arfasaira
      Originally Posted by verial View Post

      The only person in this thread that is going to give you a scientific, objective response is me. And here it is:

      1. Write a bunch of headlines however you'd like.
      2. Split-test your headlines and go with the one that converts the best (as per a stat test).

      If you don't have time to split-test, then just hire someone who has experience (i.e., who has split-tested many headlines and has a general idea of what works and what doesn't).

      Anything else is just heuristics.
      Your 'scientific, objective response' is utter nonsense.

      Since how is writing a bunch of headlines 'however you'd like' scientific? And what has that got to do with a hook?

      A hook is what draws you into the copy, that excites, amuses, creates curiosity and desire or hunger to know more.

      I don't have a methodology set in stone, but I always start with three main things:

      - market research
      - what the prospect needs or wants
      - how the product solves the problem for the prospect

      I spend quite a long time going through this initial process before I look at how I'm going to position that product in the market place. Very often you can start with your USP and your big advantage to help guide you through the process.

      I ALWAYS write my headlines LAST after pulling this information together and after I have meticulously gone through the product and extracted its benefits.

      I'll be honest here and say that very often, I've found the hook in my bullet points without even trying. Sometimes you won't.

      The key is to look at how your competitors are positioning their products and finding an angle that hits the sweet spot for your prospects AND approaches the problem in a completely different way to anyone else.

      And yes, it does help to leave your copy alone and let it 'percolate' in your brain before returning to it.

      best
      Arfa
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  • It appears that Mr Pescetti maybe made an inadvertent choice of word (only he knows) in thread 9.


    Verbaige.


    But when you look at it on it's own - it's actually quite cool.

    A sort of power verb with a built in verb.

    Yes I know it's actually a noun.

    And we'll all restrict its use - unless it happens to be the best word in the right place.


    Steve


    P.S. The likelihood is if he hadn't used it in his thread - the viewpoint he gave would never have got all the attention he wanted.

    And as copywriters what do we need?...Attention. And for the good people to read what we have to say.

    Not everybody in our target audience will want what we're selling (many didn't "buy" Marks ideas).

    But providing we believe in what we're saying - we're aiming for those who will agree with us.
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      Oh my god, unfreakin-real!

      Stumbled across a one armed golfer.

      This is the power of focused hunting for
      a story which draws the reader to come
      to their decision you are the best option.

      Best,
      Ewen
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      • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
        Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

        Oh my god, unfreakin-real!

        Stumbled across a one armed golfer.

        This is the power of focused hunting for
        a story which draws the reader to come
        to their decision you are the best option.

        Best,
        Ewen
        Wow... now truly weird... I was thinking about that angle earlier. I thought how a one-armed golfer story would be a good follow up for Carlton's classic. And now there is one! Good find.

        Re: Fishing for Hooks - There's no one-size fits all approach. However the first places you can look are product stories (how it was developed, product "special powers" or USPs/UBAs, unusual product components/ingredients) and author/creator/talent stories especially weird/unusual stuff about the product's originator.

        In my opinion, there is one thing that's found in all the best hooks. I won't spoil the fun by revealing it here. If you look closely at enough of them you WILL find it.
        Signature
        Scary good...
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        • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
          Originally Posted by CopyMonster View Post

          In my opinion, there is one thing that's found in all the best hooks. I won't spoil the fun by revealing it here. If you look closely at enough of them you WILL find it.
          Incongruity.

          Alex
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      • Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

        Oh my god, unfreakin-real!

        Stumbled across a one armed golfer.

        This is the power of focused hunting for
        a story which draws the reader to come
        to their decision you are the best option.

        Best,
        Ewen
        I might be wrong.

        But wasn't there also an Ad featuring a blind golfer.


        Steve
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