Top Marketers Say This is More Important Than Anything

I recently heard this story about the great copywriter Gary Halbert…

Near the end of his career he was quizzing a protege and said, “The best way to get a prospect’s attention is to appeal to their sense of ___________.”

The protege replied, “Their sense of self-interest?”

Halbert said, “No…their sense of curiosity.”

That’s great advice.

Decades earlier, the advertising pioneer Claude Hopkins said something similar: “‘No other activating factor compares with curiosity.”

Marketing experts often tell us to discover prospects’ aspirations and fears and speak to those. That’s the self-interest thing. And it IS important.

But before you can show prospects how you’ll fulfill their aspirations and protect them from feared outcomes, you have to get their attention…

…and appealing to their sense of curiosity is a great way to do that.

Look at this email’s subject line: “Top marketers say this is more important than anything else…”

That got your attention. That headline is designed to spark curiosity, to inspire the reader to think, “I wonder what that ‘more important’ thing is.”

In 1921, a copywriter named Max Sackheim wrote this headline for an advertisement promoting the Sherwin Cody School of English and its products:

“Do You Make These Mistakes in English”

Ads with that headline ran for more than 40 years. Why? Because decade after decade, that headline inspired curious people to think, “I wonder what mistakes he’s talking about?” So they kept reading. And the ad kept selling. It wouldn’t have run for 40 years unless it worked.

Try it with you marketing. Spark curiosity with your next subject line. Sprinkle some curiosity into headlines and subheadings on your website. Introduce a sales letter with a curiosity-sparking headline.

Thanks for reading. 

Tom Ruwitch

p.s. I’m offering free, 30-minute web conferences to review your business story. I will meet with you via Zoom and review how you’re telling your business story — on your website, social media, and other channels. Then, I’ll recommend how to make it work better during these strange days.  


I have a limited number of slots open on my calendar for these sessions. Please visit my calendar to book a time that works for you.

Want to get great content like this...

...delivered straight to your inbox?

Join our email list...

Post Categories

Previous Post

Next Post

Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.