One of my clients sent me this post today. It’s the same client that I just told last week that I don’t like when questions start copy. Needless to say, at least according to researchers at the BI Norwegian School, I was wrong. Apparently questions are an excellent way to start copy–if you want more people to read it.
My aversion to questions at the beginning of copy has to do with years of writing marketing copy. Certain phrases raise my writers hackles as a result of reading thousands of words of marketing copy. Phrases like:
- “…makes Widgets R Us you’re one-stop widget shop.”
- For all your widget needs.
and my favorite…
- “But wait, there’s MORE!”
I’m slightly annoyed even listing them here.
To me, it’s lazy writing to start your copy with a qualifying questions like, “Do you have problems with your widget’s flagellating falletaboppers?” This question is trying to qualify the audience, of course, so if you do have problems with your flagellating falletaboppers you will read the rest. My problem with this technique is that it also disqualifies all the people whose falletaboppers are functioning just fine.
Now the researchers are referring to headlines, not marketing copy. Plus their questions are such that the audience is not quite as narrow as the Widget-Falletabopper crowd. So I could see times when this might work moving forward.
What do you think about questions in marketing copy and headlines: lazy writing or a good method for attracting an audience? Do questions serve all your copywriting needs and are an essential part of your one-stop-SEO-shop? Please share your comments below.
But wait, there’s more…
If you hate questions as much as I do, share your favorite qualifying (and disqualifying) questions, too.