You have undoubtedly heard the expression before.

"Curiosity killed the cat."

Now curiosity might be a bad omen for felines.

However, it is anything but that if you're a nonprofit seeking to create high engagement in your communications.  After all, you want to create curiosity about your organization with your prospective funders, partners and clients and then spark an interest to learn more.

It starts with a powerful headline or hook that makes the reader curious.  This applies to both your online and offline marketing communications.  

In fact, good copywriters revere that word curiosity  thanks to the classic teachings of legendary ad man John Caples. His four decades of work in the copywriting trenches, with clients from Fortune 500 to small mission driven organizations,  proved through tested advertising methods that there were only three approaches to writing attention-getting, engaging headlines:

1.     Self-Interest - piquing the interest  about how you as an individual can do something easier or better, e.g. How To Develop Work-Life Balance that Really Works

2.     News - provoking interest in something discovered, e.g.  - New study on Stress Reduction with Practical Tips

3.     Curiosity - generating an insatiable interest to know something, e.g. - How the Curse of Cats Creates Excitement

For us, we prefer the "curiosity" angle. The reason is simple: curiosity lurks deep inside every human being.

George Lowenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh,  wrote about the “gap theory of curiosity”.     It is the innate human behavior triggered when people feel a gap exists between what they know and what they want to know.  In other words, they are curious and will be influenced  to take action (for example, read your post, share it with friends or subscribe to your blog).

Upworthy, a well-known content marketing company, takes the theory a step further and actually calls it the "curiosity gap." They use this strategy day-in and day-out as a foundation for the volume of content they craft and post.

It is summed up in one sentence: Simply write a headline that is tantalizing enough to get read to click through but does not give away the whole story.

The same thing applies to your nonprofit communications. In other words, arouse curiosity.

Here's a headline example:

“The 1 secret of delegation to create more time in your workday”

This headline points out the gap in our knowledge (we don’t know the secret that the headline references do we?). And it creates additional intrigue because who wouldn't want to know the secret to delegating effectively while saving time. 

So if your organization wants to break through the 362 ad messages and over 5,000 brand messages respected research giant Yankelovich says the average consumer gets exposed to daily, you need to do one thing.

Get your curiosity on.

It's definitely not in the best interest of cats. But it certainly works wonders if you want to engage your target audience.