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Technique #2: Curiosity in Copywriting - Seth Czerepak
Curiosity in Copywriting – If relevance is how you connect with your reader, curiosity is how you turn that connection into interest. Think of curiosity as the psychological glue that keeps your reader’s eyeballs stuck to the page or keeps them tuned in to your video or audio message. This is why curiosity is the second of the 10 Persuasive Copywriting Techniques.

Technique #2: Curiosity in Copywriting

Article #2 from the series, 10 Persuasive Copywriting Techniques

Topics Covered in This Article

This article on Curiosity in Copywriting was last updated Monday, June 27th 2022.

Curiosity in Copywriting

If relevance is how you connect with your reader, curiosity is how you turn that connection into interest. Think of curiosity as the psychological glue that keeps your reader’s eyeballs stuck to the page or keeps them tuned in to your video or audio message.

This is why I’ve made curiosity the second of the 10 Persuasive Copywriting Techniques. It’s the bridge between the first technique (relevance) and the remaining techniques. This series defines curiosity in copywriting as “the expectation of a relevant and valuable discovery.”

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The Role of Curiosity in Copywriting

When your reader expects to discover something relevant and valuable by reading or listening to your message, they are much more likely to stay with you. Some marketers call this “holding their attention,” but in my experience, that description doesn’t capture the full essence of curiosity in copywriting.

Remember, we live in the most aggressively solicited society in history. Even if your reader is interested in your message, the odds of them being distracted away from it are damn high. Curiosity is how you make sure that, even if this happens, they’ll want to return to your message to satisfy their curiosity. The tricky part is learning to use this persuasive copywriting technique the right way.

Two Types of Curiosity in Copywriting

Thomas Hobbes called curiosity “the lust of the mind,” due to its tendency to lead us down wasteful or even dangerous paths. I believe this is half true when it comes to copywriting. There are two types of curiosity in marketing:

  • High Value Curiosity.
  • Low Value Curiosity.

Low value curiosity appeals to our base desire for novelty and intrigue. This is a frail foundation for building interest with your reader. Spammers, tabloid writers, and other Rubber Chicken marketers depend mostly on this type of curiosity. It’s useful for getting clicks, but horrible for retaining the person’s interest for more than a few seconds.

A good example of low value curiosity is those stupid “Weird Blah, Blah, Blah…” headlines that were popular back in 2012 and 2013:

“Weird Weight Loss Trick Baffles Doctors.”

The word “weird” creates the impression that you’ll discover something interesting or unusual if you read the ad or article. But it creates no anticipation that the discovery will be valuable or even relevant. That’s the difference between high value curiosity and low value curiosity—high value curiosity leverages relevance, curiosity, and value. A good example would be an email with a subject line like this:

“Look, I just closed four new SEO clients with this new method…”

Assuming that this email is going out to someone who is running an SEO business and opted into my email list to download a book on closing SEO clients. I know this message is relevant because it matches something my reader is currently thinking about (closing SEO clients). It also implies that I just used “this new method…” to close four new SEO clients.

So, my subject line is telling my reader that if they open the email, they can expect to make a valuable and relevant discovery. That’s the smart way to use curiosity in copywriting. If you’ve had some results with your marketing but are frustrated that you’ve attracted mostly price shoppers and low value leads, this is probably the secret ingredient you’ve been missing.

Anyone who has worked in sales has had to deal with what I call “curiosity seekers.” These are prospects who call or email your company in response to an advertisement, but they have no intention to buy anything. They are simply curious and “looking for information.” Car salespeople call them “Tire Kickers.”

They’re curious enough to waste your time with questions about your product or service, but they have no intention to buy anything. Many times, they can’t even afford to buy. While every business attracts it’s share of curiosity seekers, bad marketing makes this problem much worse.

The big, paradigm busting secret is that low value curiosity attracts these types of shoppers, but high value curiosity attracts people who are serious about spending their time, energy, and money to discover (and to own) something of relevant value. Now let’s look at some examples of curiosity in copywriting.

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Examples of Curiosity in Copywriting

The first four persuasive copywriting techniques in this series form the foundation of good copywriting. They also build on one another. In the previous article, we talked about two types of relevance in copywriting. These examples will build on what we’ve covered by adding multiple appeals to high-value curiosity. 

Curiosity in Copywriting: Example #1

You’ll recognize this example from the first article in this series. The appeals to curiosity are highlighted in the final sentence of the first paragraph and the final sentence of the example:

“What’s With this pinching pain in my right elbow?”

David loved golf. He played every weekend. Then one day at the gym, he felt a pinching pain in the inside of his right elbow. A year later, he had to make a choice… spend $10,000.00 on surgery, or give up golf for good. 

“It felt like someone had grabbed a bundle of my nerves with a pair of vice pliers. I thought it would go away, but it didn’t. Now, I can barely swing my club. I’m too embarrassed to even play anymore.”

If you love golfing, but elbow pain has taken the joy out of it, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you hear what David is doing now.  

(NOTE: The example above is relevant to Buyer’s Journey Stage #1)

Let’s examine our first appeal to curiosity:

“A year later, he had to make a choice… spend $10,000.00 on surgery, or give up golf for good.”

What is our reader thinking as they read this sentence? Remember that our reader is an amateur golfer whose game (and life) is suffering because of a sharp and persistent pain in their right elbow. This pain is a symptom of the problem your product or service will solve for them. This copywriting example introduces our reader to a golfer named David. David once suffered from the same problem as our reader.

In our first appeal to curiosity, we tell our reader that David had to make a costly choice…surgery, or giving up golf. Do you think our reader will want to know which one David chose, and why? Of course. Not just because we left them on a cliffhanger by not telling them. They’ll want to know because they’re now nervous that they might have to make a similar choice themselves.

This is the first secret to using curiosity in copywriting. Our point of curiosity has to be RELEVANT to our reader’s problem AND to it’s emotional impact on their life. In the case of this example, the surgery option is relevant because our reader probably fears the price tag, hassle, and pain of having surgery. The giving up golf option is relevant because it relates to the emotional impact our reader’s problem. 

In other words, we’re not just leaving our reader on a generic cliffhanger. We’re basing that cliffhanger on something that is relevant to their problem and to its emotional impact on their life. That’s a breakdown of our first appeal to curiosity. Let’s unpack the second:

“If you love golfing, but elbow pain has taken the joy out of it, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you hear what David is doing now.”

What is David doing now? More importantly, why will our reader “breathe a sigh of relief” to hear about it? Read the first half of our sentence again and notice how it contrasts their love of golf with the painful symptoms of their problem:

“If you love golfing, but elbow pain has taken the joy out of it…”

By starting this sentence with “if,” we’m anchoring their problem and it’s emotional pain to the curiosity appeal that comes at the end of the sentence:

“…you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you hear what David is doing now.”

Again, we’re not just leaving our reader on a generic cliffhanger. We’re basing our cliffhanger on something that is relevant to their problem and to its emotional impact on their life. This gives personal significance and emotional weight to the question of what David is doing now. Our reader will read on with more than just idle curiosity. They will read with the hope that we’re about to deliver some good news about their problem. This will be the perfect setup for the next technique in this series. 

Curiosity in Copywriting: Example #2

Imagine our reader is a woman who fears her husband is having another affair. A few weeks after nervously watching him text someone late at night, she finds this article online:

How I Caught my Husband in His Second affair

It’s taken years to forgive your husband for his first affair. He promised he’d never hurt you like that again. You believed him. But, who is he texting late at night?

Dr. Seth Czerepak, a 30-year marriage counselor, believes science has a clue

“A man’s second affair is different,” says Dr. Czerepak. “He usually does two things different. Once you know what these things are, you’ll know whether he’s cheating.”  

(NOTE: The example above is relevant to Buyer’s Journey Stage #1)

This example is oozing with high value curiosity. The opening sentences nail several of the internal conversations our reader has almost certainly had about her problem. It also puts her problem into an emotional context with statements like “he promised he’d never hurt you” and “you believed him.”

The wording of these statements is intentional. While I don’t actually have 30 years of marriage counseling experience, I do have about 10,000 hours of one-on-one counseling experience. This experience taught me that the deepest emotional pain of being cheated on again by the same person is that you believed them. You feel stupid for doing so. You feel like they’ve taken advantage of your decision to forgive them. That’s how this example nails the semantic and emotional relevance we talked about in the previous technique.

Next, we make an appeal to curiosity with this statement:

“A man’s second affair is different,” says Dr. Czerepak. “He usually does two things different. Once you know what these things are, you’ll know whether he’s cheating.”  

Do you think our reader wants to know what “two things” Dr. Czerepak is talking about? Hell yes, she would. Again, we’re not using a generic cliffhanger here. We’re talking about something that’s deeply relevant to our reader. If for no other reason, she will keep reading in hopes of finally settling that toe-curling uncertainty about whether her fears of a cheating husband are true. 

These are examples of high value curiosity in copywriting. Are you starting to see the difference between this and the low value appeals to curiosity you’ve seen in tabloids, click bait social media posts, and those damn bait and switch videos on YouTube? Again, low value curiosity attracts low value customers and clients, but high value curiosity attracts high value customers and clients. 

If your business (or your client’s business) is attracting too many price shoppers, complainers, and freebie seekers, this technique could hold the keys to your kingdom. Let’s talk about how to apply this persuasive copywriting technique.

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How to Apply Curiosity in Copywriting

The smartest way to master curiosity in copywriting is by starting with relevance. This applies to every technique in this series, so always start your copywriting project with the relevance exercise. Next, ask yourself this question, and don’t stop until you have an answer:

“What is the most mind-blowing thing I can tell my reader about their problem?”

By “mind-blowing,” I mean something that either:

  • Shatters your reader’s assumptions about their problem.
  • Reveals a blind spot in their knowledge of the problem.

In other words, we’re looking for a piece of knowledge that your reader either doesn’t have (blind spot) or is misinformed about (assumption). It should be something that impacts their ability to solve their problem. Something which, once they learn it, would change their approach to the problem. 

When you introduce your reader to a new and useful idea, you literally change their brain chemistry. This happens because your brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine:

“Novel experiences induce dopamine release in the hippocampus, a process which promotes memory persistence.”

–National Library of Medicine

Dopamine has been called a “driver of exploration” because of its role in rewarding new discoveries. Your brain releases this hormone in response to novel experiences. It gives social media, video games, and even pornography their addictive quality. When your reader’s brain releases dopamine, they are more likely to remember and act on the information that triggered this release.

I’ll give you a personal example to clarify this point. I love lifting weights. I’ve have since I was thirteen years old. In my mid thirties, chronic shoulder pain forced me to stop lifting. Many of my friends had the same problem and ended up quitting, getting rotatory cuff surgery, or both. I tried everything to get rid of the pain, including shoulder stretches, meditation, ice packs, heat, rest. Nothing worked.

Then, I met a Master Level Specialist of MAT® who got to the root of my shoulder pain in less than ten minutes. To my shock, it had nothing to do with my shoulder at all. Years before my shoulder pain started, I had broken three toes in my left foot. I shifted all the workload to my outer foot while the toes were healing, but it turned out that the muscles in my foot had adapted to that movement, and never fully engaged. As they became weaker, I shifted more weight to other muscles groups, and that started a chain reaction that affected muscle groups in the left side of my lower back, and even in my neck.

As we reactivated and strengthened these muscles, the pain and stiffness in my right shoulder vanished. Two weeks later, I was doing heavy shoulder presses again, and haven’t had a problem since. This happened in 2013, and I’m writing this in 2021. Seeing that MAT expert did two things for me:

  • Shattered my assumptions about my problem.
  • Revealed a blind spot in my knowledge of the problem.

I assumed that shoulder pain meant shoulder problems. So did my friends. That’s why I wasted my time and energy trying to solve my shoulder pain, but got nowhere. That’s also why my friends burned up their money on expensive shoulder surgery. I also had a blind spot about my problem. I had no idea my broken toes had set a chain reaction in motion that led to crippling shoulder pain. Seeing an expert shattered my assumptions, revealed my blind spots, and cured what would have otherwise been a life-long health problem. 

Think about the last time you had a complicated problem that no one could solve. Maybe it was a health problem or an injury. Maybe your phone, car, computer, or some other machine in your house wasn’t working. You went to multiple experts (friend or a professional) about the problem, but they couldn’t figure it out. Then, you found that blog or that video online that gave you the answer in just a few minutes. 

Your copywriting message should do the same thing. It should deliver one mind-blowing revelation that either:

  • Shatters your reader’s assumptions about their problem.
  • Reveals a blind spot in their knowledge of the problem.

Think about the problem your product or service solves. What are the most common assumptions your readers have about this problem, its symptoms, and its cause? What are the most common blind spots in their knowledge of the problem? Find one (or both) of these, and you’ve got your primary ingredient for using curiosity in copywriting.

Ideally, you want this to be a piece of information that is so valuable, your reader benefits from knowing it even if they don’t buy your product or service right away. I assure you that if you teach them something that helps them see their problem in a new light, they are very likely to buy from you when the time comes for them to invest money in a solution. Here’s an example using the story I just shared:

SURPRISE: Your Shoulder Pain Has Nothing to Do With Your Shoulder

You’ve tried everything…stretching, ice packs, heat, yoga, meditation. NOTHING works. 

You cringe at the thought of shoulder surgery, but what’s left? 

Ten years ago, Seth Czerepak was in the same place. He was shocked to discover that his shoulder pain had nothing to do with his shoulder. 

“When I found the real cause, I was back in the gym within two weeks,” said Seth. “I never had to have surgery. I’m still lifting today and enjoying it more than ever.”

(NOTE: The example above is relevant to Buyer’s Journey Stage #2)

Notice how I teased the reader by hinting at the real cause of my shoulder pain. I didn’t tell them anything, yet. I want them to keep reading and find that out for themselves. Most of them will, and if I deliver on my promise, my reader will see me as an expert at solving their problem. Notice also how I’ve listed all the failed things they’ve tried (stretching, ice packs, heat, yoga, meditation). 

These negations are important when you’re applying curiosity in copywriting. I am making it clear that my reader isn’t about to hear more of the same solutions they’ve tried and failed with already. By teasing my mind-boggling revelation and assuring them that they’re about to learn something new, relevant, and possibly life-changing. They will read on in eager anticipation of what I’m about to tell them. 

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Mastering Curiosity in Copywriting

You’ve just learned about the two types of curiosity in copywriting:

  1. High-Value Curiosity 
  2. Low-Value Curiosity

Low-value curiosity appeals to our base desire for novelty and intrigue. This is a frail foundation for building interest with your reader. It attracts low-value clients and customers, and it makes you look like a Rubber Turd Salesman. High-value curiosity, on the other hand, is RELEVANT to your reader’s problem AND to it’s emotional impact on their life. It attracts high-value clients and customers, and this makes your business more profitable and drama-free.

Most importantly, high-value curiosity builds on the first persuasive copywriting technique in this series and sets the stage for the next one by setting up a mind-blowing revelation that either:

  • Shatters your reader’s assumptions about their problem.
  • Reveals a blind spot in their knowledge of the problem.

One of my early mentors told me that the best writing doesn’t just convey information. It helps them see things as they’ve never seen them before. In copywriting, our goal is to help our reader see their problem in a way they haven’t seen it before. By giving them this new perspective, we fill them with the most powerful emotion for inspiring action and change. That’s the topic of the next article in this series. 

-Best



           
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