According to advertising icon David Ogilvy, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eight cents out of your dollar.”
Writing headlines may be the most difficult part of creating a piece, whether it is a magazine article, an advertisement or a corporate white paper. And it can be the most important element. Headlines are the promise of what’s to come, and the enticement to read on; they offer the lure of benefits, news or secrets.
Some schools of thought ask you to write your headline first and include in it a promise to your readers. Writing for All the Buzz, I often find the headline writes itself as I research whatever I’m writing, keeping in mind that people want methods to make their lives or jobs easier, better or happier.
Brainstorm headline ideas and write them down together, then see which one offers the biggest bang. And don’t be surprised if after you write your piece, you go back and change your headline. Work keywords into your headline for good search engine optimization as well.
Quick tips for writing great headlines that draw attention:
- Offer an “if…then” scenario. “If you would do this, then you will receive/achieve this.”
Example: “The Best Ways to Save in Order to Retire Wealthy”
- Use numbers to promise a list of secrets, methods, reasons, ideas, tricks, lessons or ways. Odd numbers draw best.
Example: “23 Ways to Optimize Your Website”
- Use “what, why, when or how” along with “some” and “almost always” for believability.
Example: “Why Some People Almost Always Close the Sale They Want.”
- State your major benefit.
Example: “Lose Weight in a Week with our Newest Product”
- Offer a “how to” that promises a benefit.
Example: “How to Speak to the Media Without Fear”
- Promise a result method with simple steps.
Example: “13 Simple Steps to Doubling Your Income in 90 Days”
- Use fear. “If you don’t know/buy this, then something could happen.”
Example: “If You Don’t Know These Answers Your Infant’s Health Could be at Risk”
- Use alluring adjectives like “fun,” “free,” essential,” “proven.”
Example: “Free Museums You Should Visit in Albuquerque.”
- Tell the reader what to do.
Example: “If You Think Your Job is on the Chopping Block, Read This”
You can probably see that combining some of these tips also works:
- “9 Free Museums You Should Visit in Albuquerque”
- “If You Want to Retire Early, Begin These 5 Habits Now”
- “Why Some People Almost Always Close the Sale by Using Our Proven Method”
If you need help writing headlines…or copy, please contact All the Buzz.