The Marketing Hook: 3 Ways to Capture Your Audience’s Attention

by Josh Barney

Earning the attention of an audience is one of the toughest jobs in marketing.

The best way to do this is with a marketing hook.

A hook is an angle used in content and advertising that grabs attention, creates interest and makes an audience receptive to your messages.

In other words, it gets your foot in the door.

BTW: Do not confuse a HOOK with a USP. Unique Selling Points belong to a product/service. Hooks belong to marketing and advertising content.

Who Needs a Hook?

Every business needs a hook for every piece of content or promotion it runs.

Even established businesses with huge email lists, subscribers and customers need hooks to control the attention and trust of their audience.

Take a look in your inbox and see how many emails you receive from businesses who’ve lost your attention.

Do you think they’ll ever get it back? I doubt it.

When your marketing hooks fail to grab attention, you’ll lose your audience (and potentially) your leads forever.

A marketer who controls the attention of a small group owns a more valuable asset than one who has no control over a large audience.Click To Tweet

Making a Hook Effective

Attention is a hugely sought-after commodity.

Every day we are bombarded with emails, notifications, updates, messages, calls and social media adverts – all of them are begging for our attention.

If you’re going to compete, your marketing hook needs to stick to at least one (the more, the better) of the following rules:

  1. Be different: Stand out from the crowd in a world packed with attention hungry banners and updates. 350 million photos are posted every single day on Facebook, how will yours stand out?
  2. Have a polarising message: Say something that shocks or sides strongly with your audiences’ opinion.
  3. Reject the status quo and conformity: If you run marketing campaigns that have the same message as everybody else, your hook won’t stand out. Find something that’s wrong in your industry and use it.
  4. Be authentic: Don’t create a hook that isn’t real or lie about your opinions. This might win you attention on day one, but by the end of the month, you’ll be back where you started.

Creating a Marketing Hook

Unfortunately, we can’t just hand you a killer hook on a velvet cushion.

We do it for our clients, but that’s because we know their industry, brand and products.

In order to create the attention-grabbing hook every marketer is hunting, you’re going to need a sprinkling of creativity and a dash of out of the box thinking.

Don’t be downhearted if you’re a paint-by-numbers kind of marketer, in the rest of this ‘marketing hooks’ guide I’ll give you 3 techniques that’ll help you find your hook.

The Marketing Hook That Nobody is Saying

The marketing hook that nobody else is saying is one of the most effective you can use.

It focuses on the principles of hitting a pain point or desire within your target market and speaking to them about it in a way that nobody else is.

headlines question

In order for you to create a marketing hook like this, you’re first going to need a detailed understanding of your target market – I’d suggest creating a customer avatar.

When you have that, follow the steps below:

  1. Consider your audience. What’re their needs? Wants? Desires? Pain points? Problems?
  2. Think of a message that appeals to one of these interests/pain points
  3. Research customers/competitors/authority holders that use the same message or are experts on the subject.
  4. Look at what they’re:
    1. Saying
    2. Not saying
  5. Find something interesting that they’re not saying and apply it to the 4 rules (in Making A Hook Effective, above)
  6. There’s your marketing hook

Weaknesses as a Marketing Hook

Weaknesses as a hook?

As marketers, it pays to be smart with your messaging. This can occasionally mean flipping things on their head and approaching a problem in a totally new way.

Using ‘weaknesses as a marketing hook’ achieves exactly that.

effective headlines for content marketing

The first thing you’ll need to do in order to use this technique as your hook in marketing is to find a weakness…

  1. Find a Weakness

Sometimes weaknesses stick out like sore thumbs. If that’s the case, you probably need to fix your product/service.

But for now, we’re going to assume you’ve got a rocking product/service or piece of content to promote.

To find your weakness, you’re going to need to start digging. Here are a few tips:

  1. Be objective
  2. Put yourself in your customers shoes
  3. Use customer feedback (reviews and testimonials are the perfect place to start)
  4. Think about leads who didn’t convert and their biggest objections to buying
  5. Do you own the product? Have you received the service? If not, why?

2. Overcome the Objection

This is where our hook comes in.

We’re going to create an attention-grabbing leverage point that overcomes an objection (due to weakness) before it’s spotted.

This is why weakness hooks are awesome!

A fix, bonus or perceived add-on that handles an objection before it arises gives leads an ‘aha moment’. They create a complementary enhancement that makes a customer feel like they’re getting more for their money.

For example, if your product is more expensive than your competitor’s this would be considered a weakness and a potential objection point for your prospects.

However, if you were to use a hook that elevates your product’s status and its ‘premium’ price, you could turn this into a desirable element of your product.

The Big Gain Marketing Hook

As we know, a hook is an angle we use in marketing to grab the attention of our audience.

The big gain hook does just that.

Simply described, we are aiming to tempt our prospects into our content by showing them what they could have.

The big gain acts as bait.

Think of your where your target market are, and then where they want to be. Your marketing hook needs to show your product/service, content or offer aligned with where they want to be.

Here’s an example of how to find your big gain marketing hook:

  1. What are the PROBLEMS/PAIN POINTS of your target market?

Use your Customer Avatar to find the biggest problems your market faces.

A (Post-Christmas) Example: Our target market has eaten far too much unhealthy food over the festive period. They are worried about their health and weight.

  1. What are your customers GOALS with regard to this PAIN POINT? And why do they want to achieve them?

Is their problem something that can be totally solved? Or do they need to take steps towards it?

Example: Our target market wants to feel healthier and look slimmer. They want to lose the extra weight they put on and get a body they can be proud of.

  1. What can the customer gain from achieving their goal? What are the advantages?

This should be a specific answer. Go into as much detail as possible here, because this is where you’re going to draw your big gain marketing hook from.

Example: Our customer can go from swollen stomach to six-pack, look more attractive, fit in that dress they always wanted, get the body of a GOD …etc.…

What You Should Have 

If you’ve spent some time digging and followed our steps, you should be able to use one of these methods to develop an attention-grabbing marketing hook.

From there, you’ll have the opportunity to present them with more of your product/service content or marketing offers.

These three methods should arm you with a wealth of ideas for your marketing hooks, but don’t let you journey end there – check out one of the following articles to help you build on your journey:

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

5 Responses

  1. A great loss. I congratulate you on this. I didn’t know that hooking was so important. It can also be a very good idea to create separate hooks for each persona. I would like to publish this topic on my own blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The 3 Pillars of Business

FREE 3-Part Video Training

You are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions