Creating Advertising Hooks That Work on Facebook

Use these tips to develop a marketing message that get your prospects attention and help you reel in more business.

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By Perry Marshall

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The following excerpt is from Perry Marshall, Keith Krance and Thomas Meloche's book Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising with guest writer Ralph Burns. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

A hook is the front-facing message that your would-be customers see prior to becoming customers. It's the thing that intrigues them and reels them in. It's the primary reason why people want to take you up on your offer.

That first line that's the prospects' first point of contact with you has to be so knock-their-socks-off good that they feel compelled to read all the way to the end. At that point, they do what you ask next in your call to action, namely, give up their contact information (become a lead) or plunk down their credit card and buy (become a customer).

Related: 5 Social Media Rules Every Entrepreneur Should Know

How to find the right hook

First and foremost, to write a good hook for your product or service, you must first identify your target market. For established businesses, this is fairly straightforward and can be answered in one question: Who are my customers?

We also ask ourselves an alternate question, which is "Who is our most valuable customer?" Your most valuable customer is usually your best customer. Your best customers are people that you'll actually pay more to acquire. They become your best customers because they spend far more and generate the highest number of referrals.

Once you've answered these questions, your next job is to figure out what they want the most. What are their pain points, what are their fears? Then identify an easy-to-implement solution that you provide in your product portfolio that will immediately solve that problem or fulfill that desire.

The reason why it's so important to identify your ideal customers is that a hook has to be highly specific. The more specific your hook is to your audience, the better. You're going to have a very hard time selling a "Learn to play like Eddie Van Halen" guitar product to someone who wants to learn how to play classical guitar. But, put a "Learn to play Eddie Van Halen's Top 10 Guitar Licks" message in front of a guitarist who loves to play hard rock guitar, and you probably have a pretty good hook.

Move toward desire

To get even deeper into the mind of your prospect, ask a follow-up question on why they really want your product or service. Ask it enough times until you get to the desire behind the desire.

When you've identified the specific desire behind the desire, think about the end benefit that fulfilling that desire brings. From our rough ad copy above, this now becomes: "Learn how to play like Eddie Van Halen so you can impress your friends" or "Learn how to play like Eddie Van Halen so you can steal the show at the next family reunion."

You're now starting to craft the actual ad copy you'll be using in your ads. The formula looks like this:

They want [specific desire] so they can [benefit].

Write out about a dozen of these and keep writing -- even if they're really bad at first. With enough brainstorming, you'll find the perfect match of a specific desire and benefit you can use for your hook.

Related: 10 Proven Ways to Make Millions on Social Media

Move away from pain points

What is your target market's greatest problems? As motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, "People will do more to avoid pain then they will do to gain pleasure." Keep this in mind when you're researching and writing your hook.

Going back to the guitar player target market, one of the simplest problems could be: "I don't know where to go next on the fret board after the A note." This is a problem because maybe Fred, the solo guitar player, wants to play the Bob the Builder theme song to his kids, but he doesn't know what to do after the A note and because of this, both he and his kids are frustrated.

This brings us to the second question, "What are they most afraid of?" In this case, Fred might feel afraid that he won't live up to be the father he wants to be for his kids if he doesn't learn this part of the song and his legacy as a great dad will be tarnished.

I'm being somewhat obviously melodramatic, but you should always ask this question with regard to your target market's biggest pain: Why do they want to change? At the end of all this, Fred wants to be able to play the song because that would make him and his kids happy, and at a very deep level, he would then feel like he's being the father he always wanted to be.

Here's what to ask for your reference:

  • What are your target market's greatest problems?
  • What are they most afraid of?
  • Why do they want to change?

When you find the reason behind the problem, behind what they are most afraid of and behind why they want to change, you can then embed your solution inside the hook and cure it with your offer.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Find a solution

Go back and review your notes on your market's desires and pain points. When crafting a solid hook, this is the most logical starting point. Then, force-rank those pain points and desires. Next, start coming up with solutions that your hook will promise and your offer will fulfill. Be careful to separate out wants from needs. They're not the same.

When you think about a solution that fulfills your target market's desires or pain points, your end goal is for the offer to fulfill the promise of the hook, but in order for it to work for your business, it must be incomplete, so the bigger solution is the one your paid product delivers.

Perry Marshall

Author, Sales and Traffic Expert, CEO and Founder of Perry S. Marshall & Associates

Perry Marshall is the president of Perry S. Marshall & Associates, a Chicago-based company that consults both online and brick-and-mortar companies on generating sales leads, web traffic and maximizing advertising results. He has written seven books including his most recent, 80/20 Sales and Marketing (Entrepreneur Press, 2013), Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising (Enterpreneur Press, 2014), Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords (Entrepreneur Press, 2014), and Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing (Entrepreneur Press, 2016). He blogs at

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