Getting your marketing communication read

I don’t have to tell you how we are bombarded with information these days. Emails, TV, the web, text messages, social media, blogs, print media, fliers, webinars, podcasts and more all competing for our attention. If your communication starts with your name, has a list of features and no captivating images then why should your target even look at it?

How will you capture attention?

Controversial advertisement

This image certainly attracted lots of attention!

The first thing that any marketing communication has to do is to capture the attention of its target audience. A strong image can help. How many times have you been motivated to read a begging letter by the image of the distended belly of a small child, the ruins of a war torn town, or the sad expression of a very elderly person? How many times has an image of a great plate of food, a stunning piece of jewellery or a sleek car caused you to click through to a website to find out more? The saying, ‘an image is worth a thousand words’ is very true.

Who needs an excuse for a celebration flier

This postcard worked well for one of my clients

That’s not to say that words don’t work either but it can be more of a challenge to say what you want to say succinctly. It’s not easy to identify your target audience and their problem in a few words for a headline but it can be done. For example, ‘Where will your next new customer come from?’ might capture the attention of a business owner wanting to grow her customer base. ‘Is her snoring keeping you awake at night?’ would probably make a sleep deprived partner to read on.

Combining an image and words can be very effective.

Can you make your target audience think and/or feel?

Buying decisions tend to be emotional however much we like to persuade ourselves that we’re being logical. Can you find a way to tap into your target’s emotions with your headline or your image? If you can create intrigue or raise curiosity your communications will get read. Could you do something with the following, (substitute your own pain/solution/target where appropriate)?

  • What’s the solution to the never ending ‘to do’ list ?
  • How can you lose weight without being hungry?
  • Is it possible to get your new baby to sleep all night?
  • Where can you find a steady stream of customers ready to do business with you?
  • What would you do if your main fuse blew at 7.30p.m.?

You get the idea. Why not start looking for inspiration in the fliers that come through your door, the adverts you see on TV or in your newspaper? Many will be rubbish bit there’s a lesson in there too. If you are in the UK watch Comic Relief on Friday evening because they are bound to have many ideas you can adapt (and if you can’t watch read this article which reveals all!)

There are other ways to capture attention but they’re for another article…


How to get your emails opened, part 2

Your subject line needs to do one or more of these.

Your subject line needs to do one or more of these.

What makes you open an email? I suspect there will be one of three main reasons:

  1. It’s part of a conversation you are already having with the sender
  2. It’s from someone you have an ongoing relationship with
  3. The subject line captured your attention

The chances are that your target behaves like you do so they will open an email for one of the three reasons above. One and two are relatively easy it’s the third one I want to talk about today.

Your subject line is crucial

Your subject line is the key to getting your emails opened. The best subject lines do one or more of three things:

  • Share news
  • Create curiosity
  • Sell a benefit

If you can do all of those things in one subject line you could be on to a winner but take care not to be so clever that your prospect goes, ‘What?’

You might find people willing to open an email with a subject line ‘How can our new service save you time and money?’

This involves all three criteria:

  • it’s a new product not same old that you’ve written about before
  • there’s a potential benefit in saving time and money
  • it creates curiosity because the subject line doesn’t give you the answer.

You could have written, ‘Our new service will save you time and money’  and this might work but I would suggest a question would work better. Asking a question triggers a curiosity reaction in the brain in a way that a statement does not.

A word of warning

Regular readers will have heard me moan about subject lines that fail to deliver so that’s one mistake to avoid. Always make sure that your subject line and the content of your message are in alignment. If you don’t you might get one email opened but if it fails to deliver on its promise your disappointed target is unlikely to open your emails in the future.


If you are struggling to get your emails opened, get in touch. For new clients the first 30 minutes is free and we can give you some helpful suggestions in half an hour.

Glenda Shawley of The Training Pack helps small businesses to grow by finding ways to sell more to new and existing customers. To find out how we can help you email