Here’s a fact you can take to the bank: Headlines are the most valuable real estate in sales writing. In fact, strong headline writing skills are crucial to your message development and your marketing success.
This is why you must always be sure they grab and engage your prospects. Why? Because if your headlines don’t grab your audience, there is little chance they’ll read the body copy beneath your headlines – no matter how good it is.
As a busy copywriter, I spend five days a week writing Core Message Platforms,™ performing Core Message Audits,™ and answering message development questions I receive from authors, speakers and coaches. By far, the one question I’m asked repeatedly is this:
“What’s the quickest and easiest thing I can do to improve my existing marketing materials?”
My answer is always the same:
“Improve your headlines.”
I then follow up by stating that headlines have two primary functions:
- Engage the attention of your audience immediately; and
- Motivate them to dive into your body copy for more information
It’s that simple.
At this point, I usually receive a “thank you” and then my colleagues get to the task of writing strong headlines for their marketing materials. However, this often leads to a second phone call during which they say:
“Casey, I’ve just spent a week wracking my brain while trying to come up with some witty and catchy headlines – but nothing is popping. Any tips?”
My response is usually this:
“My tip is to stop trying to write zippy, whimsical headlines when something simple and direct is all you need to hook people, and drive them into your copy.”
Next, I tell them about four standard headline types that:
- Never take more than a few minutes to write
- Imply a promise, state a benefit, or arouse a great deal of curiosity
- Persuade prospects to read the body copy below the headline
Here are the four headline types, with examples of each.
“How to” headlines
People want to know how to do things. So, the words “how to” are a magnet for readers.
How to Generate Twice as Many Sales Leads Every Month
How to Leverage Today’s Top 5 Online Wealth-building Strategies
“3 Secrets” headlines
Everybody wants to be an insider. Everybody wants to be “in the know.” Slipping the word secret into your headline is always a good idea, especially if you have a good one to share.
3 Secrets to Generating More Website Traffic through YouTube
5 Book Marketing Secrets that Only Bestselling Authors Know
“Big Reveal” headlines
The word reveal signals your audience that you are about to unveil something exclusive and important.
New Case Study Reveals Dark Secrets about What Manufacturers Can Put in Your Food!
Our Special Report Reveals the 5 Hottest E-mail Marketing Trends for Speakers
The magic of these first three headline types is that they imply a benefit or an important revelation will be detailed in the body copy. And, they do this in a style that is simple and easy to write.
You can also imply a benefit and arouse curiosity by leveraging my fourth headline type …
“Thought-Provoking Question” headlines
We spend a big portion of our lives seeking answers to questions (What time is the game on? How much does the dog food cost?), so connecting with your audience through thought-provoking questions is a very organic process.
Interested in Exclusive, Behind-the-Scenes Information?
Do You Know the Secret to Attracting the Relationship of Your Dreams?
In this second example, you’ll notice I’ve used the word secret. With a little extra effort, blending elements together from one or more of these headline types can result in some highly enticing headlines!
A Big Tip for Utilizing “Question” Headlines
When writing question headlines, be sure you create questions that make readers very curious. For example, consider this question headline:
“Are You Tired of Being Stressed?”
Everybody is tired of being stressed. Someone reading this headline could simply say, “Yes,” and move on. So, make sure your question headlines are compelling and arouse a great deal of curiosity in your readers.
Also, if you ask a compelling question in your headline, you MUST deliver an equally compelling answer in your body copy. If you don’t, your audience will feel let down …and they’ll tune out and move on.
There are many headline types beyond just these four. However, I’ve found these four are great to turn to when I’m pinched for time …and even when I have a lot of time.
The big takeaway here is that you don’t have to be zingy, zippy, or witty with your words to write great headlines.
KEY: If a simple headline motivates your audience to read your body copy and learn more about your product, book, or service …then you’ve written a great headline!
So, are you ready to take your headline writing to a higher level so you can engage more prospects? Did this post provide you with insights that will help you do this?
Please leave me a comment and let me know!
If you got a knowledge boost from this post I encourage you to share it with your crowd!
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