Very Awkward And Very Funny
My favourite TV show was back on the other night after a six-year break.
If you’ve not seen it, Curb Your Enthusiasm is a largely improvised sitcom featuring a fictionalised version of Larry David (the co-creator of Seinfeld) and it’s very awkward and very funny.
One of the best things about Curb is the way “loops” are opened to maintain interest all the way through an episode, and there’s a lot to learn here for anyone who writes copy.
In every episode, Larry inserts strange scenes that don’t seem to have any conclusion to them.
But the more you watch the show, the more you’ll realise that each of these scenes has a point – they’re integral to the plot, but you don’t realise why until later in the episode.
What Larry taps into here is what’s called Ziegarnik effect; the idea that if you leave something incomplete, people are more likely to remember it and pay attention to it.
It’s why cliffhangers at the end of soaps work so well.
Why JK Rowling introduces plots and ideas into the Harry Potter books that require more information to truly understand.
And it’s why smart marketers harness the power of the Ziegarnik effect to make their marketing more effective. Here are four ways to do just that:
1) Use short sentences. Short sentences force your reader to read on or feel a sense of incompleteness. For example: “Last Sunday, something happened that shocked me to the core.”
2) Tell stories. We’re hard-wired to listen to stories, and because we’re familiar with narrative arcs, we naturally want to reach the conclusion and resolution of the story.
3) Introduce cliffhangers. Whether it’s a promise to tell your subscribers something in an email tomorrow, or explaining that your reader will have to ‘read on’ to discover something specific, using cliffhangers encourage your readers to keep reading your copy.
4) Use numbered lists. When you introduce a list of things in your copy, tell them the specific number of things you’re going to share – once we’re told there are ‘five things’, our brains will want us to check out all five.
There’s a particular technique that works really well for getting your readers to read all of your copy – it’s explained in more detail in this book HERE, which is one of the best copywriting books I’ve ever read.