Posts Tagged ‘headline’
OK, so headlines are critical to your marketing communication. Whether that’s advertising, web content, brochures, direct mail … the list goes on. But what happens when you sit down to write, and draw a blank?
The thing is, some days top headlines fairly jump onto your screen. Then there are those other times. A bit of inspiration goes a long way toward writing power headlines.
Online news is a highly competitive space. Writers need to engage visitors within seconds. Most news sites feature a timeline where you’ll find catchy headlines and strong breakout text.
Newsmakers write this copy to grab attention and generate story click through. And they’re darn good at it. Great places to get some headline inspiration of your own include:
Check sites like Digg, Alltop and even Twitter for trending stories … and sharp headlines. These sites are rich pickings for content writers. Not only because they’re great for headline inspiration. Likes, shares and voting put them on the pulse of what’s popular too.
Think about it. Some clever copywriter created those subject lines. Something has to make readers open that e-marketing. Writing email headlines is art in itself. Compelling, benefit driven … AND character limited. Talk about short and sweet! Here’s a few samples:
- Is your video ready for prime time?
- Aussie backyard breaks from $99
- A double whammy for maximum website exposure
Sometimes factual, other times fantastic … it’s headlines that make magazines sell. In the cut-throat world of advertising by circulation, writers can’t afford to get it wrong. The great thing about magazines is their target audience orientation. Which means they’re not only a good place to find writing inspiration. The new ideas you come up with are market tested, like these:
100 perfect outfits that are already in your wardrobe ”
Blogging against the machine ”
More energy instantly! Your secret source ”
The ideas box
Mostly, there’s more junk than mail in my letterbox. But that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes there’s a kooky or really cool flyer that gets my attention. Other times it’s a newspaper insert, or maybe and ad.
I save the best ones. They’re a great resource when it comes to coming up with headline ideas. Here’s a sample:
Hot, steamy and ready to be picked up. You guessed it, pizza!
3 take away tips
- Getting in the right headspace for writing headlines needs some inspiration.
- Don’t discount news services. They’ve been writing winning headlines for years.
- For short and punchy headline inspiration, try checking your inbox.
Headlines with stopping power flag down readers with a simple, benefit driven message. Writing headlines isn’t about reducing your business to a one liner. Great headlines reach out to capture audience interest. For maximum effect, copywriters use words and ideas proven to work.
Make it sound easy
We all love a short cut. If there’s a way to get there that costs less or happens sooner, who won’t be in that? Here’s an example where the copywriter worked in a number to draw readers right into the middle of the headline:
Learn how to read a 180 page book in just ten minutes
And how easy does this sound? Sign me up!
Prepare a fully blown marketing plan in a tenth of the time
Share an experience
There’s a reason social media is huge. People love sharing and, as it turns out, they aren’t too shy about doing that with the whole world! In the right context, a shared experience can really personalise your headline, like this one:
Most women don’t feel relaxed about facial hair
Here, the copywriter has left the headline open to be resolved in the subhead or opening body content:
You’ve probably thought about growing your business
Ask a question
Questions and challenges fall into similar territory. Some of the best power headlines are questions. But writers always treat this territory with caution. Ask anything to which the reader can answer No and your communication dies there and then. Here’s a couple of well written examples:
How to you fare in this kitchen hygiene test?
Which one of these advertising mistakes do you make?
Solve a problem
I know, I know … it’s marketing 101. But so many businesses look past the customer need and write ‘all about me’ headlines. Customer is king (or queen). All your copywriting should reflect how your product or service fulfils customer needs.
These copywriters have tapped the target market psyche beautifully:
Great news for PMS sufferers
How to double your power to learn
Last … but not least, reassurance is a powerful motivator. Almost every buying decision is emotive. Connect with a desire to feel safe, healthy, clever, rich etc.
More beautiful than you ever imagined
Sales results guaranteed or your money back
3 take away tips
- Compelling headlines attract readers with powerful benefits.
- Some of the all time best headlines are questions.
- Always, always write communication that solves the readers need.
Humans are a funny bunch. We’re hard wired to love stories, short-cuts and numbers. That includes your readers. So copywriters who tap into these key motivators write power headlines.
A good copywriter will almost always write the headline first. That’s because they know that, on average, only 2 out of 10 readers will move onto the main content. Here are some of the secrets.
Keep it short & simple
Make your headline work even harder by including a key benefit too.
Connect with images
Never underestimate the power of pictures. In advertising, a good graphic often tells most of the story.
Writing a headline that ties into the visual adds real impact. Entice prospects with a key benefit and accelerate readers on to your content.
Shock, challenge or amuse
Some of the best headlines of all time are the ones that made us laugh. For the right reasons that is (not some ghastly spelling mistake, or worse). A word of caution though – they are the trickiest of all to write.
A headline is the first opportunity to make the reader part of the communication. So cut to the chase and target where they live. Experienced and well briefed writers hone in on audience values:
One child dies every minute “
Are cleaner teeth worth $1 to you? “
The man with the ‘grasshopper mind’ “
Tell me a story
Surely you don’t think a story in 7-9 words is impossible? Newspaper writers and editors do this every day of the week. And they do an awesome job.
Great headlines don’t just state facts:
Man shoots stray dogs
they appeal to the reader:
Dogs shot in senseless attack
Use sensory language
Let’s think about it. Why is anyone reading your marketing content? Not because they want a sales pitch. Because they want to experience your product or service.
Copywriting with touch and feel is the best way to help prospects do that. And headlines are no exception.
For example, “Tastes Great” tells a story. But “Melt in the Mouth” makes me feel it.
Take a number
It’s a fact. People love numbers. So writing a headline that includes a number has instant appeal. And when it comes to online content, list posts almost always work.
Not just any number, mind you. Rounded numbers engage fewer readers than, say authentic survey results.
For example, readers trust “19% of customers think …” over “almost 20% of customers think”.
Similarly, odd numbered online lists tend to outperform their nicely rounded colleagues.
3 take away tips
- Copywriters that tap into key motivators write power headlines.
- Only 2 out of 10 readers will move onto your main content.
- Numbers and numbered lists almost always work.
Those concert posters show up everywhere! Even at the mere hint of a new city building. And surely that’s what lamp posts are for? As you pass by, there’s one thing guaranteed … you’ll know which band’s the main attraction. That’s why they’re called the headline act. And it’s also why polishing up your headlines is worth the effort.
What are headlines for anyway?
Great guitar riffs make you want more. And that’s the main job of your headline act. Attracting enough attention to get your marketing copy read.
Don’t get excited though. Research tells us 3 – 5 more people read a headline than the body copy. So, some of the other jobs your headline needs to do are:
- Shock, amuse, challenge or otherwise engage your reader
- Create a link with visual creative to explain the idea
- Cue the key selling message in as few words as possible
Test & measure
Tuning up your headlines will help your business marketing hit the high notes. So how do you know what’s going to work? Which headline will have your audience gripped with fascination and eagerly reading to the very end. You don’t.
Whether there’s a copywriter on hand, or you’re polishing your own headline act, nothing beats a test and measure exercise. Try a suite of headlines and measure results carefully. Online advertising is a low cost and simple way to do this.
Short but sweet
Often, truly great headlines strike a chord and find their way into our lexicon. But most businesses don’t have the budget for Madison Avenue advertising. That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. As long as you get to the point … fast.
Writing headlines for outdoor marketing (like posters or billboards) might limit your headline to 7 words. So make them count. Spend some time polishing up your headline act and make your business the main attraction.
3 take away tips
- The job of any headline is to get the body copy read. Simple.
- Get your copywriter to prepare a set of headlines for testing.
- Keep it simple … a well polished headline is no place for waffle.