In the marketplace of products, services, and content, life is like a crowded New York City street … your prospect is one of seven million people stiff-arming thousands of messages competing for her attention.
She has her own agenda … and that agenda doesn’t include you, your product, idea, or your latest dumb link-bait article.
To earn her attention you need to get drastic. And the best way to do that is with a seductive hook.
What are some of the best tips for finding those incredible hooks (and becoming a lot smarter in the process)?
A couple weeks ago Brian Clark and I covered this topic in an Authority webinar called How to Find the Seductive Hook.
We explained that the best way to find a hook is simply to be relentlessly curious about everything. Then someone asked if it was better to be a generalist or a specialist.
In order to answer that question, we had to back up a bit and eat our words. See, we’d just gotten done telling everyone that you needed to be a generalist. What we should’ve said — specifically — is that you need to be a specialist in your field of expertise.
Get specific, then get free
Nobody is going to listen to Matt Frazier (The No Meat Athlete) unless he is an authority in exercise and plant-based diets.
Nobody is going to listen to Marcus Sheridan unless he is an authority on swimming pools.
And nobody is going to listen to Pam Slim unless she knows early stage entrepreneurship.
Outside the boundaries of your specialty, however, all the world becomes (and should be) your oyster. Satisfy your curiosity until the cows come home, building that bank of creative ideas. Be a generalist with everything except your area of expertise. Just go where your interests take you. Learn about what you love.
And to help you get started on that path, allow me to show you exactly how I do it.
1. Obsess about one subject once a year
Each year I try to buckle down and master a topic outside of my field (I use the word “master” loosely).
This year I chose classical music. I even went as far as vowing never to listen to any other type of music except classical (no half-measures with me).
I’m also reading three pages a day out of a classical music textbook. And plan on reading five or six books about classical composers. I’ve already unearthed one idea from the book The First Four Notes, which I used as an opening for a recent Copyblogger article titled How to Nail the Opening of Your Blog Post.
In the past, I’ve spent a year studying the American Civil War, the Spanish Flu of 1917, Theodore Roosevelt, and science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.
2. Listen to podcasts
Whether you are moving the lawn, sitting by the pool, or humming along the subway, pop in some ear buds and catch up with the latest podcasts that pique your interest.
Here are some of my personal favorites …
This is all about the accumulation of facts. Strange and curious facts. Facts that will inform your fascination headlines, and separate them from the clutter.
3. Follow clever people on Google+
Anybody who tells you that Google+ is a ghost town has simply not put in the effort.
Like Chris Brogan said:
It’s like your refrigerator. If it’s empty, that’s your fault.
In fact, there are lots of really smart and clever people to follow (or, put in your refrigerator).
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (the guy who sung “Space Oddity” in space) is the poster child for content marketing on Google+. And astrophysicist and professor Brian Koberlein recently wrote a five-part series on how the universe has changed.
Then there are philosophers, economists, and psychologists on Google+ … people sharing substantial and intriguing ideas.
4. Take an online class
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) offered by prestigious universities like Yale, Oxford, and MIT have changed the face of education.
You can sit in on Paul Hunt’s Hannibal lectures at Stanford. Or experience Hubert Dreyfus’ UC Berkeley seminar on Existentialism in Literature & Film. You can even learn intermediate Chinese.
Whatever suits your fancy. There are over 725 free online courses to choose from.
5. Watch NOVA
Or Discovery … or the History Channel.
Amazing documentaries on topics as far-ranging as the ghosts of Machu Piccu to using robots on farms abound on these channels.
There are endless opportunities to satisfy your curiosity.
6. Run a TV series marathon
No, you don’t have to get off your couch, this kind of marathon can be done from the comfort of your rear.
Scratch out four hours a night for an entire week, choose a TV series you’ve always talked about watching from a provider like Netflix or Amazon … and then veg.
Don’t just pick the latest and popular series like Mad Men (have not seen one single episode by the way) or Breaking Bad.
Reach back into the archives and bone up on Arrested Development or Twin Peaks (David Lynch FTW!).
7. Create unique music playlists
Spotify has completely changed the way I listen to music.
What is it … ten million songs available … free? And while it can be time-consuming, culling certain songs or albums into a particular playlist can really boost your creativity.
This is another passive approach, but I’ve found the sheer experience of new and esoteric music changes the way I think about things. And you can always try to put a playlist together that tells a story.
Your turn …
This post is not unlike one I wrote a couple of years ago called 10 Surprising Books That Can Transform Your Writing. My goal wasn’t so much to convince you to read those particular books, as it was to get you to expand your mind. To wade into some strange dimensions … by reading wide.
Same holds true here.
You don’t have to follow precisely in my footsteps to get smarter. My point is that you should explore — and explore widely. Who knows where you might find a powerful metaphor to illuminate your current project? Or an incredible angle for your book launch?
You won’t know if you don’t go looking.
If you’re interested in becoming a smarter online marketer, grab your free MyCopyblogger membership right now.