Craft an attention-grabbing one-liner for your writing or product
“But what’s the hook?”
It’s a question I hated in my first year of screenwriting.
“Can’t you see?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“Does brilliance need an introduction?”
No, no, and yes are the concise answers to those internal reactions to that pesky hook question, and the quicker you can figure that out, the quicker your work will grow.
Now I really do get it, if my hook was clear the questions wouldn’t have been asked in the first place.
In screenwriting it is an early plot point. Early because a viewer/reader needs to be interested enough to stay for the entire journey and the principle carries over to all things content marketing.
The hook is basically the reason that someone or anyone should care enough to engage with your work. I used to say with theatre that a play had until the first break to capture my attention; if it hadn’t happened by then, it just wouldn’t happen. That’s quite a generous amount of time compared to the time that a digital audience will give you.
Think about the amount of screen time you give to other businesses.
The same goes for your content. What’s the hook? Why should anybody be interested? You need to know this to create meaningful communications.
With many people stuck at home right now, there’s an opportunity to grow your audience, but you’re competing with others who are thinking the same thing.
Should you buy leads or chase down the bandwagon? No, try this first. Locate your hook and cast it out with everything you produce.
It’s time to go back to your hook; the hook for your business and the hook that should inform every piece of content that you publish to the world.
Got your hook already? Does it really stand up to our changing times? I bet there are a few tweaks you could make to adapt it to our virus state of play.
Give these four steps a go anyway.
What’s your big why? This should sit over everything you do.
What is it you are trying to evoke or inspire in the services or products you provide? I’m not talking about being didactic or trying to educate people by whacking them over the head with your values, but knowing what emotional or tangible result that you can give people with your product or services.
Inspiration is often one for me. Motivation to keep going or to try new things because that’s what keeps the world going around. Inspiration to be more creative or productive.
Example why: I make the world a better place through storytelling and creativity.
Then you need to identify your audience.
This is an essential question that we writers and entrepreneurs like to avoid if possible. Why wouldn’t someone want to read our writing or hear about our product?
But the truth is that your view on your own product is super subjective, and when you don’t consider it alongside the view of your audience, then it remains only your point of view.
It’s interesting how many websites I see that talk about themselves on the home page and their credentials or certifications when what an audience member wants to recognise is that you’re talking to them.
Answer the following question: who would need/enjoy/benefit from my ‘why.’
Example audience: my audiences are story lovers, readers, and business owners/entrepreneurs.
Now you combine the first two steps: what’s your magical why and how does it apply to your audience.
Business owners can learn to be more creative if they…( read this blog, watch this video, subscribe to my list, etc.)
That’s your hook: the reason for your audience to connect with your message.
Do you state your hook in those terms? You could do that, but it sounds a bit clickbait-y. Think of it as the promise you are making when you produce your content. See it as a theme.
Just articulating it to yourself will bring your content more purpose.
Now it’s time to put your hook to use. But how do you use it if you’re not meant to express it in clickbait terms?
What content can you produce that will fulfil your hook?
Finding Your Hook
5 ways to creatively repurpose old content
5 story ideas to market your business
See the hook as your promise and your content as delivery.
Just a general note too: don’t bury your hook at the end of your video or your blog, or any of your content. It’s your promise — make it upfront.
It’s the deal you’re making with your audience that keeps them reading.
Just stopping to listen to what you have to offer and what your audience really needs will give your content the hook and purpose that’s worth its weight in new gold.
Thanks for reading.
I’m on a mission to unpick the myth of creative genius and have put together a short, digestible guide on creativity and how small businesses can develop this mindset. Find out more here.