Command Your Audience’s Attention with the Bill Jones Copy Technique

You’ve just walked into a charity gala and your inner introvert claws her way to the surface.

The room is swimming with composed, fancy-looking people chatting to other fancy-looking people in gowns and tuxes and jewels. So many sparkly jewels.

It’s like you stepped into an ice bath. When you accepted your client’s invitation to her charity event you knew it wouldn’t be your cup of tea…but this?! It’s like a scene straight out of Revenge.

You never expected this level of formality, or to feel so out of place.

You take a deep breath, knowing it’s too late to back out now, and start walking through the crowd.

You roll your shoulders back and force your face into what you hope is a look of calm, easy-breezy sophistication. You’ll just find your client, say hi, chat for a few minutes, and then slip out, smooth as velvet.

You’ll be back in your yoga pants with a nice glass of red in no time.

You’re so lost in thought about which Netflix series to watch and which takeout place you’ll stop at on the way home — Thai, definitely Thai — that you barely notice the bustling around you.

There’s a dull din of chatter filling every corner of the banquet hall. It’s hard to make out what anyone’s saying, though you’re pretty sure you just heard someone call another woman “dahling.”

Like, not as a joke.

And as you’re passing the waiter holding a tray of (what you can only assume is) caviar, one single voice cuts through the noise.

“Hey there, Bill Jones!”


(via GIPHY)

You whip your head around — without even realizing youre doing it — and there she is: your client, smiling at you, waving within the sea of people.

–Oh yeah, your name’s Bill Jones, btdubs.–

Wait. But Bill Jones wouldn’t be dreaming about yoga pants, he’s a dude. Or would he? Do guys wear yoga pants?

Ack, you know what? This analogy is falling apart.

The point is, your client got your attention because she spoke directly to YOU.

Not Peach or Poppy or “dahling,” but right to Y-O-U. And that’s what made her voice stand out amid all the others and made you take notice.

When someone speaks directly to us, we can’t ignore it. No matter how noisy it is or how distracted we are, we stop what we’re doing and pay attention.

That’s why speaking directly to your ideal clients is so, so important when it comes to your blogs, emails, and web copy.



Why Bill Jones?

In his book Scientific Advertising, Claude Hopkins uses this example to illustrate talking directly to your reader. He says that when someone says “hey there, Bill Jones,” (and your name’s Bill Jones,) you can’t help but stop and listen.

We need to speak THAT directly to our readers. We need the written equivalent of “hey there, Bill Jones” to grab them in the noisy cocktail party that is the internet.

There’s something so charming about “hey there, Bill Jones.” It makes me picture a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-esque party, where men have their hair gelled in a deep side part and talk in that old timey “the fuzz pulled up and I split, y’see?” drawl.

“Hey there, Bill Jones” just has that certain je ne sais quoi that one needs to create a memorable teaching point. 🙂


How to “hey there, Bill Jones”

There are a few ways you can yell out “hey there, Bill Jones” to your audience.


Craft a killer headline

Writing compelling headlines is a great way to command attention. You want something that taps so directly into your audience’s stresses, worries, hopes, or dreams that it makes them stop in their tracks to read more.

To do this well, you’ve got to intimately know what motivates your ideal clients. (Need help with this? Download my free Audience + Brand Clarity Workbook! »)

Headlines are an artform unto themselves, and great ones can make or break your content strategy.

I recommend letting the creative juices flow and writing a bunch of headlines (10 or so) that describe your blog post / email / web page / etc. Don’t hold back — the idea here is to get variety and come up with as many ways as you can to describe your post.

Then, test the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of your headlines using the free headline analyzer tools from Advanced Marketing Institute and CoSchedule.

I’ll warn you though, these tools are addicting! Keep playing with them until you find a winner.


Use your audience’s words

I’m a huge proponent of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”…and that applies double to using your audience’s words to compel them into action.

When you mirror your audience’s words back to them, it creates an instant feeling of understanding.

When they read a line that reflects how they feel, it triggers their interest in wanting to read more. They think, “this soooo applies to me,” which accomplishes the “hey there, Bill Jones” effect we’re going for.

So pepper your audience’s words into the beginning of your copy! I give you permission to copy and paste (cleaning up any typos or grammar stragglers, obvs) to incorporate their exact verbage into your copy.

If you say “vibrant lifestyle deficiency” and your clients say “crappy energy levels,” they’ll pay much closer attention to the latter than the former.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel and try to find another way to describe their problems. Trust me on this — their words are king!



Incorporate Stories

Tapping into your audience’s emotions in the beginning of your copy with a story is another way to hey there, Bill Jones.

Humans love stories. Like, LOVE. And if they can see their own emotions in that story? Even better.

The goal here is to paint a picture they can see themselves in so clearly that they keep reading to find out how it ends, without even realizing they’re doing it.

Tell a story that describes a feeling they relate to and they’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand.



Advanced hey there, Bill Jones-ing

In this post, I used a mix of words AND emotional story to grab attention. WHAT?!?

It’s true, you guys.

Many of my favorite clients identify as introverts so I wanted to tap into that emotion in the intro to this post. And I got crafty and pulled the phrases “my inner introvert claws her way to the surface” and “it’s like I stepped into an ice bath” straight from comments I found in Facebook groups for female entrepreneurs.

I took that idea of feeling out of your comfort zone and rolled with it, because I know my ideal client would feel totally out of place at a schmancy charity event like the one I created.

The best hey there, Bill Jones-ing mixes in many different elements to grab and keep attention. Have fun with it!

Incorporate a story into your next blog post.

Play with the headline analyzers.

Search for words your ideal clients use to describe their struggles and paste them into your articles.

The key here is connection — cutting through the online noise and telling your audience you’re speaking to THEM and them alone.

If you can do that, you’ll achieve your hey there, Bill Jones moment and be on your way to building authentic relationships with your readers.


Not sure how to hey there, bill jones with your audience?

My Audience + Brand Clarity Workbook is basically hey there, Bill Jones juice.

By working through it, you’ll uncover your clients’ deepest needs, wants, pains, and emotions. And you’ll understand the parts of YOU and your story that meet those needs in a capti-suading way.

Click here to grab your free copy. »

join the convo

Which of the three hey there, Bill Jones strategies is your biggest challenge? For what reasons?

What other techniques do you have for appealing directly to your ideal clients?

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Would you have felt the same as the character in the intro? Or would you be smooth as butter, working the room?

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© Whitney Ryan LLC

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