“At sixty miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.” This line that David Ogilvy wrote for Motor Magazine in 1958 became a model for copywriters everywhere. What’s the relevance of this quote for you? Simply this. As discussed in prior posts – a simple, powerful statement that expresses a truth, is a great way to hook an audience to listen to you and your message.
Another way to learn how to create great openings is to read the opening lines of classic books. For example, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ (this is from Charles Dicken’s, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’). Great authors know that they only have one chance to grab your attention and capture your imagination. If the opening line(s) of a book leave you cold, you’ll not read further.
Here is an opening from Richard Ford’s book ‘The Sportswriter’. “My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter. For the past fourteen years I have lived here at 19 Hoving Road, Haddam New Jersey, in a large Tudor house bought when a book of short stories I wrote sold to a movie producer for a lot of money, and seemed to set my wife and me and our three children – two of whom were not even born yet – for a good life.”
Do you want to read more? (By the way, though Ford’s book, ‘Independence Day’ won the Pulitzer Prize, I think ‘The Sportswriter’ is a better book).
The ‘how to apply’ for this post: Drop into a bookstore sometime in the next seven days. Read through the opening lines of a few classic books. Reflect on how you might use what you’ve read to create more powerful opening hooks in your sales presentations and interactions.