Cliffhangers in copy: your own Flash Gordon Moment

If you’re old and crusty like me, I reckon you grew up watching Flash Gordon.

And other creaky old black & white shows.

Buck Rogers…King of The Rocket Men…

All those blokes in padded lycra, flying around on wires.

Remember? Every morning in the school hols brought a cheesy new episode. And I was just thinking back to it, while sipping the froth off my latte.

Because…someone asked me yesterday, “how do you keep readers on the page, glued to your message?”. And let’s be honest – no-one held an audience quite like Flash & co.

Every episode ended with the hero dangling off a cliff. Or plunging into a fiery pit. Or hurtling into the sun.

He was doomed. So we’d all be there next time, to see him wriggle free.

Okay, producers took a few liberties. As Kathy Bates ranted in Misery, he’d roll straight off a cliff at the end…then come the next ep, we’d see he jumped to safety just in time.

In exactly the way that Wile E Coyote didn’t.

They kinda cheated. But never mind – point is, cliff-hangers work.

Not just in drama. They work in copy too, in the form of an Open Loop. Where you promise some tasty info…then delay it.

As in, “I’m going to show you how to scratch that massive itch. But first…”

Put it like that, and you’ve opened a loop. You’ve got a captive audience. So for a short time, you can fix their gaze on anything you want.

That’s your cue to bring in the “sensible” copy. Like the science bit, or your pedigree – the stuff that ain’t sexy, but helps them believe.

They’ll take it in. Because they don’t want to miss the “WOW!” moment when you close the loop.

Suck ‘n’ see. Just ask yourself:

1 – What’s the biggest, juiciest titbit you can share in your copy?
Like a secret? Insight? Major news? Or a crazy offer?

2 – How do you prove you’re up to the task?
A bit of research? Personal story? Testimonial?

Whatever it is, put one after the other, and voila – instant loop! 

Your own Flash Gordon moment. Your cliff-hanging, focus-grabbing, bitchuva bit of copy.

Plug it into your message, and see how it works…

And if you see Flash dangling off a mountain…don’t worry. He’ll be fine.

Meet the Author

James Daniel

You might not know who James is...but you've probably read his copy. Through high street clients like Hidden Hearing, or big gun marketers like Jonathan Jay and Chris Cardell. His words are out there, pulling in new business every month. What else? Well his books, Do You Talk Like That at Home? and Direct Mail 101 will help you squeeze out more sales. Oh yeah - and his next book Before You JFDI will help you plan your next campaign. Get on the list for a free advance copy here.

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