The Diddler is back.
No, The Diddler is not a Batman villain. It’s our nickname for the guy who plants himself outside our window a couple of times a day to have a smoke and jerk his fly up and down.
Once or twice, I’m pretty sure he’s actually whipped out his thang and jerked that up and down, too. But usually, it’s an empty gesture, accompanied by a stream of obscenities.
I can’t hear what he’s saying, but I know it’s obscene because I hear his choice language when I pass him in front of the deli.
(If you regularly get your quinoa bowl on at Hu Kitchen, you’re probably acquainted with him. Maybe he’s even called you the F—- word. Not for eating quinoa, just for walking by.)
The Diddler goes away for long bouts of time, during which I assume he’s doing time. Or, Steven and I have another theory — that when he’s on his meds, he goes back to his family in their park-facing prewar on 5th Avenue, and his job in wealth management — where, instead of a sweatshirt with a pregnant-looking plastic bag of who-knows-what underneath, he wears a Jill Sander suit.
Less likely, but who knows.
So, we’ve seen lots of the Diddler lately, because of something right beneath our window.
There’s a hole. And he’s obsessed with it.
It had a pole in it (poles in holes – you just know I’m going to get a whole new flood of google search traffic here now). The pole was there to keep people from falling in, but the Diddler came along and took the pole out so he could properly talk to the hole. And, throw things in it. It’s also become his own giant ash tray.
But guess what?
He’s not the only one attracted to the hole.
Every five minutes, someone else stops by to look in the hole. Some take pictures. Couples approach and peer in together, like it was on Time Out’s list of “Spring Must See’s” in NYC.
What do they think is in there?
A family of mole people?
A trip to Acapulco?
Jimmy Hoffa? Ryan Gosling?
No, they know it’s None Of The Above. But they can’t help looking anyway. Must. Look. In. Hole.
Remind you of anything?
If you said, “Those Upworthy headlines,” you’re right here with me. God, they annoy me:
“This boy took a sandwich out of his lunchbox at school. What happened next will blow your mind.”
Or “I thought this was an album of kitten photos. But when I got to the third picture, my jaw dropped and I suffered a paralyzing stroke which left me drooling for life.”
Enough, already. That’s what I say. And then I click anyway.
Must. Look. In. Hole.
Curiosity is so powerful. You know that. You read this far to find out:
“How can a hole get me more attention?”
The answer? Curiosity. Curiosity is your hole. It’s how you make them look. I’m really talking about in your business, specifically in your copywriting.
After all, you naturally know how to use curiosity to get attention in life.
You do it when you say, “Guess what?” And the other person has to ask, “What?”
You do it when you say, “I’ll see you later. I have news.”
You do it when you say, “Ew. Smell this sponge.”
But do you do it enough in your email subject lines, your headlines, your storytelling? Do you give them a “hole” that people can’t not look at?
This curiosity factor might be a “no duh,” but there are 3 specific reasons I’m bringing it up.
(And, by the way, saying “there are reasons” creates a little Curiosity Hole (™ ) right there. You want to know the reasons, right?)
Reason 1) You might think it’s been done to death, and you want to be original.
Do it anyway. It has been done to death, but we’ll still click. Even if we’re thinking we’ll probably be disappointed.
Reason 2) I want you to do it right. Before they work with me, I see a lot of my copywriting clients attempt the Curiosity Hole in their headlines, but they miss the mark by telling the whole story right in that one line.
Example: “Why The Wrong Diet For Your Body Will Backfire And Keep You Fat.” (Ooh, you’ve got me by the lapels!)
Better headline: “This Repeat Food Mistake Is Exactly What’s Keeping You Fat.”
A little old-school?
Yes. But they’ll open it. Admit it: you’ve clicked more than once on those “4 foods you must stop eating to lose belly fat” ads. (“Huh? I can’t have bananas??“) If, unlike those, you have something useful to say that can support your Curiosity Hole, go for it.
Reason 3) For the first time in years, I looked this week at my free Non-Sucky Copy Tips. I was nervous. Were they still any good? Actually, they’re amazing. I was like, “damn, that’s some brilliant, useful shit.” But I caught two things that make them embarrassingly “2009.”
- There’s a reference to Balloon Boy, a news story no one’s mentioned in at least four years. Balloon Who??
- At the end, I promise copy tips on my website. Whoops. Don’t really have any, except in that excellent free guide.
Because I don’t know how to change a pdf, there’s only one way to make my freebie current: Bring back Balloon Boy (on it — seeing if he’ll get back in the balloon) and give you a copy tip.
Here it is: put a good “hole” in your copy, and people will pay attention.
Must. Look. In. Hole.
Oh and yes, I looked. I had to.
So now to you.
Tell me in the comments: Do you look in holes? Do you click on those headlines even if it’s just to prove to yourself there’s nothing there to see?
Should I open a bar called The Curiosity Hole?
And, if you write copy for your business, do you use a Curiosity Hole to get attention? Give me examples. I love them.
Want to get more attention with your copy? I can help. Check out my new Quickie Copy Rescue service on my “hire me” page. Click here to go there now.
Rex Williams says
I love curiosity. I even based my whole web site design on it – check it out… if you’re curious enough…
But I take it in a little different angle than what you’re talking about… maybe. I’m totally with you on those Upworthy headlines that drive me crazy, I know it’s a complete trap, but sometimes I just have to look. I think now they’re so rampant and obvious that I’ve become somewhat numb to them (but don’t tell anyone I watched that stupid dolphins with the wakeboard one the other day.)
Oh yeah, my angle… it’s more of trying to use curiosity to drive your actions in a way that will help you accomplish your goals. Since curiosity drives action, instead of getting you to look in a whole, or read a post, maybe it could drive you to exercise more, or write that book, or launch that site because you’re curious to see what life would be like to have done that thing.
I’m still experimenting with it, especially getting it to work on myself. I really like my web site though. Don’t worry, it’s nothing spammy, just a weekly message about my concept that might make you think differently. (One of those email autoresponder thingys. Mailchimp is cool.)
Thanks for sharing the hole story. Love your writing.
I noticed some click bait ads hint at one of the items on a mystery list. Like “These three foods will ruin your waistline” accompanied by an image of a banana. I think the marketer is appealing both to the curiosity of what’s inside the hole (the two foods not in the image), and also to a reader’s desire for confirmation. “Oh, I bet bananas is one of the forbidden foods! If I click, I’ll see if I’m right!” I guess you could call this combination, “The banana poking out the curiosity hole (TM).”
The banana poking out of the curiosity hole ™ is a very advanced, ninja-level technique! Don’t expose it here, please. We’re trying to keep it exclusive to professional copywriters.
Excellent. I use Curiosity Holes a bit in my wiring — but I like the idea of using it even more. — thanks.
Just remember that it’s trademarked! Curiosity Hole ™
Oh I know it’s trademarked. That’s why I use Glory Holes — it better reflects the joy of discovery of what’s in the hole.
I think the Curiosity Hole would be a great bar. Endless drink names based on that theme as well. The Pit. The Vortex. The Wormhole. The Portal. The Abyss. Hole in the Head.
I do go on.
I do try and do the curiosity thing with our headlines as much as possible. Not always successful though. It is an art form for sure. No headlines I feel good enough about to share – but I will as soon as I have one.
Thanks as always for the great insights.
You are officially in charge of marketing and mixology at my bar. The Wormhole will be mezcal, of course.
I bet you’re good at curiosity hole headlines. Do share.
You got it! I am on board – especially the whole mixology thing. Secret dream really – being a mixologist. The Abyss might need to have Everclear or something equally devastating.
As for headlines – I will percolate.
In the meantime I need to get started on my marketing plan of placing various holes throughout the city with various exotic drinks inside. Just a thought.
Grace Miles says
I love how you had to look in the hole anyways. Yes, I think some holes are awesome as well. I think of it as the curiosity gap instead of the hole, but your story is awesome.
P.S. I love your emails– I don’t care if they aren’t copy tips. 😉
I love hearing that (the ps part). I always struggle with whether to try and give copy tips, like all the other copywriters, or just do my thang.
I love making people click on my curiosity holes. I mainly use them for newsletter subject lines.
Tiphany Montgomery has one that says “the real reason I was in jail”…..thats one curiosity hole.
I’m working on one of those classic “how i doubled my list and got a full slate of clients in 2 weeks” – I always click on those. I even love “lessons learned from my first year in business” ones – they always get me.
The photos of your hole was the best….i loved thinking there you were being a weird stalker taking photos of them. Muhahahahah
Farideh! What up. That jail one I can’t resist. Will even go look it up to find out the answer.
Me, I can’t help clicking on headlines about “multiple income streams.” My favorite word combo.
And it so happens I AM a weird stalker.
You slay me, woman. The entire time I KEPT thinking, “What’s in the damn hole?” PS: Is The Diddler single? Asking for a friend….
T to the E. He is! And he’s looking for someone to cuddle up and watch Scandal with him.
Hannah Ransom says
Yes and yes.
I don’t really use them in my headlines much (though I have). The way I see it, they are helping people click, but probably not read and subscribe, yeah? I certainly don’t subscribe and ususally don’t really read when there are headlines like that.
You have to keep the curiosity going throughout the post. That’s the trickier part. Personally, I’m curious about your fantastic name.
I believe the hole in front of your window goes all the way to China. Also, how come you didn’t mention a-holes, such as the a-holes who stare into holes?
If it does, China is getting all The Diddler’s garbage. I just saw him riffle through a bag, then look thoughtful, then drop it down the hole, nodding his head like that was the right thing to do. BTW, I knew before I saw your name that this comment from you. The a-hole part: patently Bruce.
Big O says
Know what I think? I’ll tell you later.
Loved this! When we moved into our street level office in a bit of a “down and out” neighbourhood last year, people kept banging their heads on our front window to see what we’re all about. It would never appear, from the look of our “front room”,that we are an engineering business.
You’ve now *almost* made me wish our window were street level. I’d love to see people crash into it like pigeons. That’s excellent.