Show not Tell
Be patient, have faith in your ability to put together a credible reality in
your reader’s mind. Instead of saying “This car is the fastest sports car in the
market today”, make the reader experience the feeling of maneuvering it… the
cold sensation of the door handle, the whoosh of the leather seats when she
jumps in, the roaring of the engine when turned on, the tight turns that
satisfy, the way she gets “pushed” against the seat every time her foot touches
the accelerator, the tremble of the gear stick in her hand as she prepares for
the next shift, the way she attends to the sounds of acceleration, listening for
that precise moment when the engine will sing, "Now … take me to the next
Develop a Rhythm
Powerful writing matches its rhythm to the feeling it intends to create. To
inspire an excited, fast-moving feeling in your reader, use little punctuation,
and impart motion through the use of action verbs and short, rolling words. Now,
if you want to convey a relaxed and sleepy feel, a sense of rest or moodiness,
lengthen your sentences, use abundant punctuation, descriptives, and pay very
close attention to detail.
Your pulse races, hands clenching your ticket as she comes flying into
the homestretch. Whispering a prayer, you watch her cross the line. A photo
finish. Too close to call. Eternal silence. Bated breath. The announcement
crackles in your ear. She lost. By a nose.
How do you feel? Breathing just a bit shallower?
Your fingers finally uncramp and ease their vise grip on damp paper, a
palpable weight in your open palm, the embodiment of hope that has become
failed dream. You shred precisely, with contempt, then surrender the useless
burden, and the tatters flutter like betrayal to the stained concrete at
your feet, no longer distinguishable in their promise from crumpled candy
wrappers and empty plastic cups.
Now how do you feel? Can you see the palm opening in slow motion, ticket
fragments falling like decayed petals? Can you sense the despair?
You want to establish a relationship with your readers; you want them to
recognize you as an individual, you want them to be able to sense what you are
relating to them. Therefore, you must develop, and stick to, a standard system
of punctuation that has your own personal signature. For example, use commas for
brief pauses in speech, ellipses (…) for longer, but still connected pauses, and
periods as separating hard stops. Whatever you do, stay consistent and
communicate so the reader knows you are the one talking and knows your
Let's take the former example and write it this way:
Your pulse races … your hand clenches your ticket … she comes flying into
the homestretch. You whisper a prayer … she crosses the line … a photo
finish … too close to call … eternal silence … bated breath. The
announcement crackles in your ear. She lost by a nose.
Feel different? Time is just as collapsed, but it is presented in a fluid
way, a rush rather than as a fragmented, choppy montage. And simply by changing
the punctuation (and a few words). Then, the finality of the event is
acknowledged and reflected in the last two sentences: two hard stops.
I'd never recommend doing this all over the place - people will lose patience
when anything is over-used. But do you see how the identities of these passages
Engage the Senses
To uphold the attention of your readers, use shapes, colors, and names of
things to which they can easily relate and create strong, clear mental images.
Though distinct to each person, these images do require everyone’s active
involvement. Mental images are composed of all senses; therefore words like
“sweet”, “bright”, and “smooth” enhance their “visibility”. By strengthening
your mental images you’ll haul your listeners to the places you want them to go…
like your checkout page!
Say you adore dark chocolate. You go to a website and read this product
Premier imported Belgian Dark Chocolate with a characteristic
Hmmm. Maybe that works for you if you really know your chocolates (and
frankly, I'm just making this up as I go - Martian confections are more my
thing), but I want to "sample" that chocolate before I tap in my card numbers. I
want to experience the color, the smell, the mouth-feel, the lingering
after-taste of a dark chocolate. Don't make up flowery nonsense - the copy
should be honest - but tell me what I need to read so I know this is the stuff
for me! Smooth, full-bodied, with a bite but not bitter, deep color,
individually wrapped in gold foil that enhances the anticipation of the richness
waiting within. A chocolate to savor. That's what my senses tell me I'm going to
get excited about!
Specifics are more believable than generalities, as the chocolate example
suggests. And specifics about your products or services are far superior to
generalities (or even specifics) about you. Authors of every genre tend to gain
your willing suspension of disbelief by means of details. It takes careful
attention to describe accurately things you want people to imagine in a certain
way. Make each point very clearly; give your readers the respect they deserve as
you captivate them by making powerful, relevant, and specific statements about
stuff that matters to them - not you - every opportunity you get.
I said it before and I'll say it again: Dare to be memorable. Dare to think
outside the boxes and color outside the lines. It isn't exactly a traditional
corporate style, but you want to win the hearts and minds of people who are
actively involved in a dynamic, interactive medium of communication. And you
ain't gonna do that by being lack-luster and boring!
7 Avenues to Customer Leads Online
Andy Sernovitz, CEO of
is a pretty cool guy (and a friend). Besides suggesting you need more ice cream
in your life, he also thinks you could use more business, work, contacts, leads,
sales and traffic (to name a few). And he's doing what he can to help you get
them. He's asked if I'll let him share these "Seven Strategies to Get Fresh
Customer Leads Online" with you.
Oh, geez, Andy. Twist my arm! (He approaches.) Enough already. Okay!
Seven Strategies to Get Fresh Customer Leads Online
by Andy Sernovitz
1. Reel Them In With Email
A well-written email newsletter delivers your focused sales message wrapped
in valuable content that'll keep 'em reading week after week. Make it short and
snazzy - a must-read for your prospects. Never doubt the power of repetition to
close the sale. Better to have 100 prospects see your message 10 times than to
have 1000 prospects see it once. Be creative in your content - anything worth
reading, they'll forward to a friend.
2. Create A Word-Of-Mouth Machine
Install a "refer-a-friend" button on your Web site. You'll enable your
interested prospects and enthusiastic customers to do your marketing for you.
They like what you have to say, so make it easy for them to spread your word.
Place a button on every sales page, letting them send your stuff to their
bosses, customers, and friends while you capture the email addresses of everyone
3. Advertise For Free
Want free advertising on 1000 other Web sites? Build an affiliate program
that rewards other sites for advertising your Web site and sending sales leads
your way. These affiliate sites are paid only when the sale is closed, and you
get all the advertising exposure at no additional cost. Best of all, there are
great services that manage the entire affiliate program for you, so there's no
paperwork at all.
4. Buddy Up And Double Your Leads
Choose a company whose product or service is the perfect complement to yours
and partner up. Share customers - advertise on each other's sites, co-promote
events and newsletters, recommend each other's products - and drive profits
together. Consider hosting a joint online seminar featuring both of your
products, and work together to bring in the buyers. You get twice the results
for the work you would have done anyway.
5. Bait The Hook
Offer a teaser - a little taste of your product or service - to everyone who
offers you their contact info. Give them just enough to show off your value, but
leave them thirsty for more. Something as simple as a white paper, a Web
seminar, or a product sampler leaves everyone a winner, and it'll grab their
attention long enough to hear your pitch. Promote it right and you'll have your
prospects forwarding your offer to their contacts.
6. Supercharge Your Surf
Rev up your interns and junior staff to create a hot prospect database. Set
up teams to surf the Web for qualified leads and enter them directly into your
sales database. Your targets are online somewhere. You'll be amazed at how
quickly you've got the low-down on every marketing VP in the tri-state area, for
example. And of course, it isn't the worst thing in the world if you happen to
stumble across the customer lists of your competitors.
7. No One Can Resist A Contest
Everyone likes a sweepstakes, even executives. With a cool prize and basic
promotion, you can attract thousands (or millions) to your site to register for
a contest. Pick the prize that'll appeal only to the most qualified leads - i.e.
offer a monkey wrench to build your list of plumbers. Put the offer on your home
page, and capture each entrant's contact information. Then sit back, relax, and
watch your prospect database grow.
Do you really want more leads? Maybe you're better off selling more to
existing customers instead. Make sure that your cost of chasing new customers
justifies the effort.
Does any of this sound familiar? Good! And isn't it wonderful to know you've
got company out there? Thanks, Andy.