AdWords Red for Attention

Today’s AdWords Color Tip: Red for Attention.

Every night when I go to bed, I write a todo list for the following day. I put little things ("Iron and fold the underwear") and big things ("Save the cheerleader, save the world") on the list. I include errands ("Buy more of those things you’re almost out of") and decisions ("Pay Visa bill or move to Siberia"). And the first item on the list is always the same: "Read the list."

You get where I’m going, right? If I don’t read the list, how will I know to read the list? It turns out the most important thing about the list isn’t what’s on it, but that it gets read in the first place.

That’s true of this email as well.

You, wise reader, are reading this email – Relax, I’m not psychic, it’s just a parlor trick – but some other subscriber to my email list is not.

Why? Maybe the subject line didn’t appeal to them. Perhaps they haven’t emptied their inbox since 1997 and can’t bear to log in and see eight years of junk. Maybe they chose to open the boss’s email instead of mine. Whatever.

I could be writing the one secret that will change their life utterly and completely, and it doesn’t matter. Because they aren’t going to read this. Because I couldn’t get their attention.

The primary currency of marketing is attention. No eyes or ears, no sales. And attention is harder and harder to get these days. More stimuli, less time; more hype, less trust; more ADD, less focus.

Speaking of ADD (I used to be a school teacher, so I’ve seen quite a bit of diagnosed Attention Deficits in my day), we’re all ADD online. The medium demands it. How many windows are open on your desktop right now? How long are you willing to wait for a web page to load? Can you imagine calling a movie theater box office to find out the showtimes when you can just type "Movies 27712" into Google and get the complete listings for every local cinema, including reviews and trailers and online ticket sales, within 3 seconds? (I used to veg out so completely during those recordings, that I’d have to listen to the message repeat three or four times to catch the showtimes for the movie I was interested in. Now I get to daydream all I want, and when I come back to earth, the web page with the info I want is still waiting for me.)

The primary task of your ad is to compel attention. As the 11th century Talmudic scholar Rashi might have said were he alive today, "No lookie, no clickie."

Just as stop signs, online error messages, and immediate attention triage tags are red, your ad must wave a red flag in front of your prospect that says, "Stop for a second and consider this."

How do you get their attention? My marketing mentor Ken McCarthy has a very handy three-word response that he strives for in his ads:

"That’s for Me!"

How can you get your prospect to glance at your ad and immediately think, "That’s for me"? By naming them, talking about things that matter to them, and making them hungry for more.

Chapter 6 of AdWords For Dummies includes seven specific headline strategies for grabbing attention. I’m going to reveal three of the strategies here. Want the other four? Then go down to Barnes & Noble, buy your coffee and raisin-nut bar, and turn to page 141. (Or, just buy the book, if that’s not too self-serving a suggestion. will take you to the amazon product page.)

Attention Grabbing Strategy #1: Name Them

  • Considering a Unicycle
  • Mind Maps for Teachers
  • Actor’s Disability Insur.

Attention Grabbing Strategy #2: Mirror Their Itch

  • Suffering from Gout?
  • Rotten-Egg Water Odors?
  • Disorganized?

Attention Grabbing Strategy #4: Arouse Curiosity

  • Are You Right-Brained?
  • Are You a Slacker Mom?
  • Copywriting Secret #19

Get the other four attention grabbing headline strategies – and so much more! – in AdWords For Dummies.

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