Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation

Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation

One way to do that is to make a bold, seemingly unreasonable assertion in your title or headline. As far as I can tell, copywriter John Forde (whose site tagline is, not coincidently, “Learn to sell or else …”) was the first to define the Proclamation Lead: A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement, usually in the form of the headline. This type of lead works for both sales copy and persuasive content. The copy continues not by jumping to the offer, but instead by backing up the proclamation. The intent is to startle people interested in becoming more creative, while concurrently tempting prospects to further explore what Kleon means by “steal.” The first example is copy designed to make a sale. The key to these bold headlines and leads is the immediate emotional response provoked by the assertion. That’s because implicit in the proclamation is a promise. In the Rutz and Kleon examples, you’re promised that you’ll learn about hidden cures to common diseases and the way creativity really works, respectively. But if you research how artists throughout history actually work, creativity is much more about starting with something already out in the world — often the work of someone else — and making it into something new. There are plenty of other headline and lead approaches that also work well, so that headline wouldn’t be accurate or appropriate.

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Quick Copy Tip

If you’ve studied copywriting, you know the purpose of the headline is to get people to click and start reading. And your opening copy needs to continue that momentum all the way to the offer or conclusion.

One way to do that is to make a bold, seemingly unreasonable assertion in your title or headline. A proclamation so jarring that the right person can’t help but keep reading, listening, or watching to see where you’re going with it.

As far as I can tell, copywriter John Forde (whose site tagline is, not coincidently, “Learn to sell or else …”) was the first to define the Proclamation Lead:

A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement, usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.

This type of lead works for both sales copy and persuasive content. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Forde illustrates the Proclamation Lead with a direct mail report that is ultimately selling an alternative health newsletter. Written by Jim Rutz, the piece immediately startles and tempts the prospect with a bold statement:

Read This Or Die

Today you have a 95% chance of eventually dying from a disease or condition from which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet. The editor of Alternatives would like to free you from that destiny.

The copy continues not by jumping to the offer, but instead by backing up the proclamation. In the process, the piece systematically removes the objections…

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