The Spear v. The Funnel

Your high school English teacher taught you to start broad and gradually go specific. We do things differently: we start close, and get closer.

writing an introduction

The Spear v. The Funnel

Virtually every high school English teacher in America pushes a method for writing an introduction. It’s called a funnel introduction, and it looks like this:


funneling into the narrow

and narrower until

all that’s left

is your


While fine for your critical essay, here’s the problem with this upside-down triangle. The funnel technique isn’t just incredibly boring: it’s time-consuming filler. Call it a Bermuda Triangle—what’s lost is your point, and along with it, your readers. Apply that to web copy, and you get the funnel of no return.

At MarketSmiths, we use another method to craft your website, blog, or other marketing copy. We call it The Spear. The spear starts by setting context: precise, vivid, and tingling rich. From there, it probes further. Like a laser pointing into a pitch-black sky, it guides your brain to the next effervescent point, then the next, then the final, so that we keep your readers engaged, reading…and buying.

To use the spear, follow these tips:

  • Think big, but speak specifically. “Spear” the reader’s attention with a contextual theme: a captivating anecdote, a powerful example, or a strong personal hook.
  • State your viewpoint. In other words, whip your thesis out first!
  • Exclude the obvious. Just as no one needs to be told that the Yankees are a New York baseball team, there are aspects of your business that do not require spelling out. Leave them alone.
  • Leave any asides short, sweet, and (preferably) parenthetical.
  • Don’t wait until the end of your introduction to say your work is exceptional. Begin with your strengths—that mind-boggling case study, your latest client testimonial, your mention in the Wall Street Journal. Impress your worth, and impress your audience.

When it comes to making your words count, there’s no room for textual cow paths. Wander too far, and you’ll land face-first in a meadow pie.

Jean Tang

Jean Tang

A champion of high-end content, Jean is a living tribute to copywriting for humans. In 2012, at a TEDx talk, she declared her now widely viewed “War Against Bland.” The visionary founder of MarketSmiths, Jean leads her growing team to captivate, inspire, and motivate readers. She has helped thousands of global clients generate revenue from words (up to 12,000% ROI), and transformed the writing of hundreds of seminar attendees at the SXSW Interactive Festival (2014 and 2015), SXSW V2V (2014), the Small Business Summit (2014, NYC), and other venues.

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