The first paragraph of your letter, email, website, brochure or other DR piece is one of the most critical elements of your campaign.
Grab your reader’s attention immediately.
In one or two lines you must create suspense or drama or introduce something unexpected. More importantly, it must persuade your reader that it is in his or her best interest to keep reading.
Remember your objective is to demand and attract the interest of the reader. It is not to set the groundwork for understanding the full message; it’s to generate an irresistible desire to keep reading.

Here in a nutshell are a few of the rules to follow in creating your first paragraph:

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  1. Make it dramatic, interesting and directed to the right target audience. The focus is on the reader’s self interest.
  2. Keep your paragraph short.
  3. Keep your sentences short.
  4. Keep your words short.
  5. Use “you” to involve the reader.
  6. Make your message come from one person, on a very personal basis, with the intent of building a one-on-one readership throughout the letter.
  7. In evaluating any marketing piece, one of the first things you should do is look at the lead paragraph. Does it match the style and flavor of the six points above?

Below are a few first paragraphs I have used for my clients:

Take a look at them to see how we have applied the rules:

  • Imagine raking in 58.84% average returns over 3 years when the S&P is pulling 18.01%.

Subscribers to Motley Fool Stock Advisor have done exactly that.

  • Malpractice premiums are outrageous!

But at least they protect you from today’s out-of-control lawsuits, right?
Not necessarily.

  • Shocking but true.

Californian’s cost of living is a staggering 30% higher than other states.

  • Twenty-three years ago, I took a trip that I have regretted for life.

For more ideas on making your first paragraph more powerful see my article here. The power of your first paragraph….

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