7 Copy-Starter Tricks Every Marketer Should Know

Openers can be onerous. Which may be why registrations for last week’s webinar, “Copy Starters: 48+ Ideas for Letter and Email Openers” were some of the highest ever for Target Marketing. The hour-long session was based on a column I wrote for Target Marketing magazine in March 2012 that still attracts online readers. Couldn’t attend? Here’s a short recap of some of the most frequently asked questions and high points of the discussion.

Q: It’s difficult to get started. What can I do to overcome writer’s block? I spend a lot of time staring into space.
A: Experienced writers agree you shouldn’t sit and stare at a blank screen or white piece of paper waiting for a flash of brilliance. Instead, just start writing. When you do, you’ll most likely find your opening line buried in the second or third paragraph. Try it; it really does work!

Q: If you open with a question, isn’t there a risk readers will answer “no” and you’ll lose them?
A: Sure … which is why you want to phrase the question in such a way that no matter how your readers answer, they will be intrigued enough to continue reading. Bill Jayme was a master at creating openers like the ones we looked at during the webinar. You can also create questions with fairly predictable answers based on research or testing. Or do as I do and keep a file of question-openers you like, then analyze them for why they’re effective.

Q: Should B-to-B openers be different than those used in B-to-C?
A: Used appropriately, the same general tips and techniques apply for writing both business and consumer copy. Notice I use the word “appropriately.” We’re human beings whether we’re at home or work … so the same motivators apply.

Q: Aren’t email and letter openers similar to email subject lines and outer envelope teaser copy?
A: The answer is yes. However, by the time someone clicks on a subject line or opens an envelope, they’ve shown some interest. Now, the challenge is to offer an opener that reels ’em in to generate response. If you’re interested in learning more about writing effective email subject lines, this free Brunch & Learn webinar hosted by DirectMarketingIQ offers ideas.

Pat Friesen is a direct response copywriter, content developer, copy coach and creative strategist. She is also the author of "The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook," published by Direct Marketing IQ. Reach her at (913) 341-1211.

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  • Jeff Molander

    Outstanding tips, Pat. Thanks for sharing. I’m meeting you via Maria Spínola, who found her way to a free training course that teaches many of these practices within the realm of social media. Crazy since I write for Target Marketing too! http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/channel/making-social-sell

    Let’s find ways to collaborate!?