Earlier this year, I saw a headline for an article that promised all sorts of health benefits just by following “this one little tip.” It was on one of those websites I find myself on because of some flimsy but irresistible pop culture article that George Takei shared on Facebook (you know you’ve clicked on those too).
But given the culturally depraved context of where I was promised “this one little tip,” I probably should have known better than to click through to find out what it was.
When I did, I was sent to a long-form sales video. This is a video version of the long-form sales letters that, against all odds, are an effective way to sell a prospective customer on something. For some reason, people are willing to be sold to for pages and pages of content when that content is constructed in a certain way.
It took over 15 minutes of watching the video—which was 45 minutes in total—to find out that “this one little tip” was actually just taking a supplement. Sure, it was a “little tip” in that it was an easy thing to do.
But it was also a very expensive thing to do.
I clicked on the health link (and, frankly, the article posted by George Takei) because of what marketers call the curiosity gap. It is this trend perpetuated by sites like Distractify and Viral Thread, in that we are promised to find out something amazing in the title and we will satisfy our curiosity if all we do is click through to find out what that amazing thing is.
The problem is, most of these promises don’t ever deliver. That supplement video certainly didn’t. While many people are capable of creating curiosity around their product and service offerings in potently sexy ways, the actual offering itself lacks any sort of substance. This relegates the practice of sharing content to gimmicks.
You clicked on this article because of a promise that you or someone you know could attract funding in 7 seconds. That’s one hell of a promise. It’s a promise that likely arouses your curiosity, in that you are wondering how attracting funding in as little as 7 seconds is even possible.
But while most curiosity gaps build up potential value and then under-deliver, a case could be made that the title of this article doesn’t even deliver as much value as is built by whatever it is I’m talking about.
Next week, I launch a workshop with General Assembly here in Los Angeles. Similar to this article, it is promising that something will happen in 7 seconds. But while a title like this might seem like it’s presenting a gimmick, the truth is that it’s not offering flash-in-the-pan ways of finding funding.
In fact, the exercise presented in the workshop requires people to view their work through the most meaningful lens possible.
The bestselling non-fiction books, 45 of the 50 most popular TED talks, and many other business and thought leaders have utilized the tool presented in this workshop: the distillation of the business down to a single sentence. This work requires us to establish why we do what we do the way we do it, and when this happens we can scale this sentence to articles, talks, keynotes, and sales pitches. This sentence is the essence of what we do. It is the recipe we use for everything else that matters to our contribution to the world.
And, a sentence can happen to be said in under 7 seconds.
I have a client with whom I went through this exercise. When she posted her first article to Huffington Post earlier this year, she got over 2,000 social media likes and shares. What surprised even me, though, was that last month she posted a second article and got nearly 9,000 likes and shares.
She was able to do this not because of flimsy gimmicks, but because she distilled her work down to its essence.
And the world wanted to know all about it.