Oh, those magical bullet points. What would blog posts, sales letters, and bad PowerPoint presentations be without them?
- Bullet points are so common because readers like them.
- But typical bullet points are kinda lame … kinda like this one.
- So let’s start making our bullet points downright fascinating.
Bullet point basics
Before we get to the graduate level, we’ve got to nail the basics.
So, here are the five cardinal rules for general bullet points that convey your points clearly:
- Express a clear benefit and promise. That’s right; they’re mini-headlines. They encourage the scanning reader to go into the real meat of your content or go forward with your call to action.
- Keep your bullet points symmetrical, if possible, meaning: one line each, two lines each, etc. It’s easier on the eyes and therefore easier on the reader.
- Avoid bullet clutter at all costs. Do not get into a detailed outline jumble of subtitles, bullets, and sub-bullets. Bullets are designed for clarity, not confusion.
- Practice parallelism. Keep your bullet groups thematically related, begin each bullet with the same part of speech and maintain the same grammatical form.
- Remember that bullets (like headlines) are not necessarily sentences. If you want to write complete sentences, stick with a paragraph or a numbered list.
Using “fascinations” to captivate readers
Are you curious about my use of the word “fascinations” in the subhead above?
Curiosity is a very powerful force.
It’s one of those things that makes us human, and one of those things we’ll never shake.
We simply want enticing things we can’t have or don’t yet understand.
And that’s exactly what drives people to take action.
A fascination refers to a copywriting technique where you create “special” bullet points so compelling and so benefit-driven that the reader simply cannot help but discover the answer.
It’s a great technique for:
- Drawing people back into the copy they skimmed
- Prompting the download of a free report
- Causing the click of a link
- Driving subscriptions to your blog
- Triggering the purchase of your product
- Initiating a new client relationship
The key to a fascination is dangling the benefit out there in a teasing manner, without actually giving away what it is.
One of the undisputed kings of fascinations is Bottom Line, a subscription periodical that promises insider information that makes your life easier.
The company launched itself many years ago with a sales piece that was essentially nothing but incredibly compelling bullet points.
Here are some samples from that original ad:
- Why some patients are given favored status in hospitals … almost preferred treatment. This little-known information could save your life.
- How to learn about medical discoveries before your doctor.
- How and when blood pressure can fool you … and drinking alcohol without hangovers.
- The two famous cold remedies that, taken together, can give you ulcers.
- A simple way to prevent Montezuma’s Revenge.
Bullet points are sometimes maligned, when people don’t know how to write them in an effective way.
Put a little more time and effort into making yours fascinating (or, at minimum, crystal clear and beneficial), and you’ll see your response increase.