how-to-write-a-lead

How to Write a Lead

The lead is almost as important as the headline, and you need to make it compelling and attractive to keep your readers attached. Your lead should spice up the remainder of your copy and make it look irresistible. Your lead is like a mini-headline directly addressing the needs of your audience and getting them to read the second sentence and the third sentence till the end of the article. Like your headline, it must be short and compelling, making the content easy to digest. 

Your lead is the beginning of a chain of sentences that will link each sentence to the next till the end of the copy, ensuring your readers don’t lose interest at any point. The best way to do this is to ensure that you don’t deviate from the message and ensure that your content is about what you have put in your headline; you don’t want to make it seem like a waste of time.

Writing A Compelling Lead

I have covered the importance of a killer lead or opening sentence, as you may want to regard it. Writing a compelling lead entails one key ingredient: keeping a conversation in your reader’s mind. You don’t just want to talk, talk, talk, and keep talking. You want the reader to read what you have to say and give a response in his mind; although you don’t even know who is reading, you are in his mind conversing with him. 

Look at these two opening sentences A and B for a hotel copy, and let us be the judge of the more interactive lead.

A: “Our services ensure that you get the most comfortable stay away from your abode with the most professional services, to ensure that you feel at home…” 

B: “Have you ever imagined home away from home? Comfort and peace in a serene environment that makes you contemplate your real place of abode? Imagine yourself in a new home with the best culinary services that you won’t get anywhere else…”

It is evident that lead A is quite attractive and appealing, but lead B gets the reader more interested in the copy, as he is subtly forced to answer questions in his mind, thereby propelling a conversation within him. This is one killer tip of a compelling lead. This conversational start may also be regarded as a hook. Well, for obvious reasons, it keeps your audience hooked to the rest of the content of the copy.

Here are some typical “Hook” templates that you can use in your opening sentences.  

  • “Have you ever heard that…?”
  • “Have you ever imagined enjoying your…without [regular approach]…”
  • “We all know the feeling when… Or don’t you?”
  • “Research has made us discover that…”
  •  “For several years, I was unable to… Until I”

Although not all of these Hooks ask a question, all of them will spark a conversation in the reader’s mind because it makes them curious about the ending of what you’re telling them.

You can also use mini-stories to write an opening sentence. Stories are also forms of hooks because they keep the reader engaged, and they keep reading. Although you need to remember that your lead must be short and concise, meaning that you don’t have a lot of room to tell a story. So it would be best if you told them something brief and relevant, not a blockbuster.

Your mini-story has one job, which is complementing the headline. Use the headline as an attention grabber, and draw them in, while you spark their interest. This tactic is called the AIDA strategy.

Attention >>> Interest >>> Desire >>> Action

aida-model
AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. That is a model that is used in marketing to describe the potential journey a customer might go through before purchasing a product or service. The AIDA model helps organizations focus their efforts when optimizing their marketing activities based on the customers’ journeys.

This strategy is usually used to generate conversion for sales. It utilizes the audience’s interests, taking advantage of their thought processes, answering their unasked questions, and overcoming their objections right from the beginning of the copy.

Attention (A): Typically, this is the place where the attention of your audience is drawn, telling them what is in for them and what benefits they can potentially gain. As you can already imagine, the headline is the place to attract this attention. Remember that I told you to capitalize on emotional words and make irresistible offers to your audience. This grabs their attention, and you can move to create interest.

Interest (I): At this point, you can now apply the mini-stories we’re talking about in the lead; after gaining the necessary attention, then you will use these short stories to make your reader more interested in what you have to offer. 

Remember, the goal is to grab their interest, so the stories must be short so that you won’t lose them at any point along the line. So from there, you can take it to the desire and then the action.

As we proceed, we will talk about the Desire and Action, the “DA” of the “AIDA” strategy

The summary of the opening sentence is, to begin with, a conversational opener, which sparks a conversation in your reader’s head. Keep these sentences or stories short, and appeal to their interests firmly. 

Benefits

After you have been able to get your audience’s attention with a compelling headline, and you have been able to get them interested in the unique thing you have to offer, it would be best if you talked about the benefits. Do not make the mistake of assuming your benefits are clear enough from your headline, lead, or your unique value proposition. You need to spell out the benefits for them in a short summarized form, preferably in a bulleted format.  The services you offer and your unique value proposition are part of your benefits, but you need to make them know that they are benefits. Do not assume for your audience. 

Your lead could go thus: “Have you ever imagined home away from home? Comfort and peace in a serene environment that makes you contemplate your real place of abode? Imagine yourself in a new home with the best culinary services that you won’t get anywhere else…”

However, you can list out a couple of benefits here in a bulleted point to reiterate your points and to also make it more transparent,

A list of benefits based on that lead would be:

  • You will enjoy a cool, serene environment with the best outdoor relaxation services
  • You will have access to a wide range of continental dishes and classic cocktails
  • You will enjoy great hospitality, as our staff are seasoned and well trained for your comfort

Now, these were all mentioned in the lead, but the benefits section made it more explicit. More so, it reiterates these features and makes them appear as benefits rather than mere features. When your audience sees features as benefits, it converts them into customers more efficiently.

Remember to use bulleted points to highlight benefits; that way, the reader can digest each of the benefits one at a time. Keep it short, with fewer full stops and semicolons to ensure that the reader digests the content at once.

There are two major types of bullets used in copywriting: Blind bullets and Open Bullets. 

Blind Bullets gives readers clear information about the benefits they stand to gain from the product or service, but it doesn’t tell them how. This deliberate concealing of little information keeps the reader curious to see how he will enjoy these benefits. Open Bullets, on the other hand, give all the details available at once, starting like a blind bullet by telling them the benefits but ending the sentence with how the reader will access these benefits. 

Both bullet styles can be used in copywriting, as they both work. They may even be mixed at times to make sure that your copy is very engaging. 

After your audience has seen what they have to gain and are already convinced, you can make this happen. Then you are at the last stage of the AIDA strategy, which is the action stage.

ACTION: You have said all you need to; you have been able to hook your reader with a solid lead and drive them down to the point of taking action. Don’t forget your clear CTA. It would be a waste of effort to walk an audience down to the end of a journey without asking them to do anything. Like I said in the first chapter, have  one clear CTA, just one! It could be buying a product, ordering a service, making a subscription, and many more. But always ensure that your copy has a clear CTA to ensure that all your hard work and effort will not go down the drain.

When writing your copy, write active sentences, using more verbs than adjectives. Verbs show action, and the reader imagines something very active, unlike adjectives that seem very passive. More importantly, write in the active sense than in the passive.

It is also important to ensure that your copy is easy to read. Make your points and transit from your lead to your UVP to benefits without making it look herculean to read. Ensure you check your copy over and again. If possible, ask someone else to check for you and read aloud.

It would be best if you also remembered to focus your copy on what it can do rather than what it is. That is the primary key to a good copy structure. Tell your readers what your product or service can do differently; nobody is interested in your history.

inverted-pyramid-style
The inverted pyramid style is a process used in journalism that inverts the logic of the way a story is told. Rather than start from the story details, you start from a hook, which is critical to get the reader interested, thus giving it a quick pay off.

Read NextHow To Write An Headline, Copywriting ExamplesUnique Value PropositionBusiness WritingCopywritingEmail MarketingSEOSocial Media MarketingContent Marketing.

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"