Every night when I go to bed, I write a to-do list for the following day. I put little things (“Iron and fold the underwear”) and big things (“Save the world”) on the list. I include errands (“Buy more of that cat food I’m 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? 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 e-mail as well.

You, wise reader, are reading this e-mail. (Relax. I’m not psychic. It’s just a parlor trick.) But some other Early to Rise subscribers are 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 over a decade of junk. Maybe they chose to open the boss’s e-mail instead of this one. 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 attention deficit disorder (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” and your zip code into Google and get the complete listings for every local cinema, including reviews and trailers and online ticket sales, within three 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 handy three-word response that he strives for with his ads: “That’s for me!”

How can you get your prospects 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.

One of the best ways to get your prospect to sit up and take notice is with your headline. Here are three specific headline strategies for grabbing attention:

Attention-Grabbing Strategy #1: Name them.

  • Considering a Unicycle?
  • Mind Maps for Teachers
  • Actor’s Disability Insurance

Attention-Grabbing Strategy #2: Mirror their itch.

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

Attention-Grabbing Strategy #3: Arouse their curiosity.

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

Pique your prospect’s interest, and you have a higher chance of getting him to read what you have to say. And that’s the key to turning him into a full-fledged paying customer.

[Ed. Note: Get four more attention-grabbing headline strategies – and so much more! – in AdWords for Dummies by AdWords guru and best-selling author Howie Jacobson himself. Pick up your copy for less than 17 bucks right here.

Now that you’ve learned how to pique your prospects’ interest, you need to keep their attention. Become a master of persuasion in your own right by learning dozens of selling secrets from a man who was directly responsible for over $2 BILLION in sales.]

Howie Jacobson is the author of the bestselling book AdWords for Dummies. As marketer Ken McCarthy said, "You couldn't have put your hands on information like this for less than $5,000." Howie will show you - with amazing ease and insight - how to play Google like a violin, turning the sweet sound of clicks into clink. He has the brilliant ability to take a complete beginner and in almost no time flat, have them generating EXTREME amounts of traffic through Google AdWords - widely acknowledged as one of the Internet's quickest and easiest ways to make money (IF you know how to do it right).Howie's marketing genius has made him the man other experts turn to when they need advice for quickly growing their - or a client's - business. But whether you're expert or beginner, you get everything in "plain English" that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you hear one money-making secret after another. Take a look at Howie's Pay Per Profits Advanced Insider Secrets.

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