Corporate Eye

This Is a Post about Skydiving

Skydiver 1

Actually, it’s a post about the idea of skydiving—and why the word “skydiving” grabs attention so effectively.  I’m thinking about this topic because the following subject line appeared in one of my inboxes:

What skydiving can teach you about attracting clients

I was intrigued!  Maybe (I thought) something about conquering fear would create a new level of self-confidence.  And that would be attractive to potential clients.  Or the exhilaration of the experience would enhance charisma, and that would be attractive to potential clients.

Either of those things might possibly happen, but as it turned out, the email wasn’t actually about lessons from skydiving as applied to client attraction.  The point of the email was:  by relying on expert guidance from the instructor and on the rigorous safety system provided for the event, the author was able to do something (i.e., jump out of an airplane) she couldn’t have done alone.  The email was really an invitation to purchase expert guidance and learn a system for attracting clients.

However!  This is not a post about deceptive or disappointing emails.  I get dozens of emails daily, all from sources (including the skydiver) that I’ve opted into; many of the emails are mildly deceptive/disappointing, but I keep their sources in the mix in case they bring something interesting to my attention.  Most of each day’s mail I don’t even open because I’m pretty sure the content won’t be interesting or informative.  I opened this one because it had a persuasive gimmick:  a “hook” that grabbed my attention.

One way to create a hook is to suggest an unexpected relationship—for example, skydiving + clients.  Another way is to reference one of the topics that appeal to our reptile brains—something about security, sex, power, et cetera.  And now that I notice, the word “attracting” in the skydiving email is actually one of the things that makes the subject line work so well.  (“What skydiving can teach you about getting clients” just isn’t as effective.)

A third component of the irresistible subject line is a buzzword of some kind.  Which brings us back to the allure of skydiving, and why it catches attention.  At a very basic level,  skydiving seems like something that takes courage, but it’s also something that anyone could do if they decided to.  We even hear about centenarians who celebrate by taking a dive–so in some ways it seems like the ultimate rite of passage.  Plus there’s the romance of floating through clouds and the lure of the adrenalin rush . . .

Believe it or not—we’re just halfway through this topic.  So come back for Skydiving Part 2:  Adventures in Employer Branding with the U.S. Army.


(Thanks to joebaz for the great skydiver shot!)

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.