(Photo by Horia Varlan)
On your website, should you have a headline that’s a question? What about a title of an email? Would it be better to use a question to get people to think or reword the question into a statement?
When you ask someone a question, you trigger an internal process with your audience. They hear the question, recognize it’s a question, and quickly attempt to answer it internally. If the question isn’t rhetorical or inappropriate, then they’ll attempt to consciously respond. This is the normal process whether the question is asked in a conversation, a lecture, or in writing.
A question has the powerful effect of making someone internally reflect to come up with the appropriate answer. Some questions are easy to answer, and doesn’t take much time (“What’s your name?”, “Where do you live?”, etc.) while others may take a deeper contemplation.
However, asking a question in your marketing (“Do you have any of the following symptoms:…?” or “Do you know what 80% of people over age 40 have in common?”) causes someone to stop reading or listening, and think. The thinking process disconnects you from them. This disconnect is like a commercial in a television show. It stops the action, and lets your mind wander. And as your mind wanders, you might realize that the television show isn’t that good, or that your marketing isn’t that interesting. The result is that you’ve lost some of your audience, with a chance for them never to return.
Use questions with care in your marketing campaigns. Their powerful psychological effect is a double-edged sword.