Copywriting: 4 Tips to Avoid the Hammock and Get Your Message Read

There’s some old brain research known as the “primacy and recency” effect that must be considered when you construct your marketing messaging or you may simply be wasting your time and money pushing out content that doesn’t drive a decision.
Primacy contends that those things you present first will be remembered best. Recency says the things you say near the end will also be remembered best. Firsts and lasts are keys to leveraging brain science in decision-making. As a result, the messages you present in the middle are the least likely to be remembered.

If you picture your marketing message as a straight line, there would be a big dip in the middle where your prospects and customers lose interest, but high points on either end, where they are most likely to pay attention and retain your information. We call this “the hammock.” You want to make sure your messages avoid the hammock and maximize the beginning and end.

  1. You need a hot open and a hot close to take maximum advantage of when people are paying the most attention and retaining what you have to say. If you think of most marketing presentations today, the meat is typically in the middle. That’s good for a hamburger, but not a presentation. There are a lot of preliminaries at the beginning explaining who you are … your brand purpose … your experience. It’s all about you, like a bad first date. By the time you get to the stuff your customers care about—they are sawing ZZZZ’s and firmly asleep in the hammock.
  2. Be deliberate about how you open and close hot. A hot opening will tell your prospects or customers something they didn’t know about a problem or missed opportunity they didn’t even realize they had. Be willing to say something provocative that disrupts and grabs the brain’s attention and makes your prospects realize they have to pay attention to the rest of the message.
  3. Think like a good journalist. Have a great hook. Don’t bury the lead.
  4. In closing, make sure you tell them something they will want to re-tell to someone else. Give them an explicit piece of insight that will be worth sharing with others in their “network.” Help them help you reach way more people than the initial touch.

As for the content in the middle … look at it again after you have created your hot opening and close. Is it really essential to that message, or is it content you can put in your “call to action?” After provoking the interest of your prospects, they will want to know more—and know how to tell someone else. So, save the meat for the second course.

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  • Fred Diamond

    Great article. Tim will be the featured speaker at the IES&BD February 21 program.