Thursday, November 27, 2008

7 Proven Headlines Formulas That Remain Fresh

by Tracy Needham


You've got less than 10 seconds to convince someone to read your webpage or article--so your headline better be compelling. Forget clever--most people are too busy to read simply for the sake of curiosity these days. Making the "What's In It For Me?" obvious is usually the more successful (and easier!) way to go.

A Google search will turn up a myriad of headline formulas, but some have been done to death--especially in the internet marketing arena. So here are seven workhorses that can be used in almost any situation, but won't make the reader think "Have I read this before?"

How to...
"How to" is a classic headline that reels them in by promising to show the reader how to solve a problem or get a desired result. And the more specific you can be, the better.

  • How to Sell to People Who Don't Want to Be Sold
  • How to Start an Herb Garden on Your Window Sill

Ask a QuestionA headline that asks a question also provokes the reader's curiosity--IF you're asking a compelling question they want an answer to. Only ask a yes/no question if you're certain they'll say yes. Otherwise, you're giving them an easy reason not to read.
  • Do You Make These Mistakes in English?
  • Do You Struggle to Fall Asleep at Night?

# Ways to...
Essentially, this is a "how to" headline for a list of tips. "Steps" works as well if there's a sequence the reader should follow.

  • 30 Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers
  • 5 Steps to Improving Your Golf Swing

Testimonial
Let your clients do the talking for you! Using a testimonial from a happy client can also be an effective headline because it offers "social proof" that someone else thinks your product or service does what you promise. Put it in quotation marks to signify that it is a quote, and when possible, give the client's name in the opening paragraph.

  • "At 60 Miles an Hour the Loudest Noise in This New Rolls-Royce Comes From the Electric Clock"
  • "I woke up pain-free for the first time in 3 years, after my first visit to Dr. Relief"

If ...Then...
This one does double duty by identifying the target and/or the problem, and following up with the benefit. You don't always have to include "then," it can also be implied.

  • If You're Stuffy and Congested Year Round, Then You Need To Ask Your Doctor About Non-Allergic Rhinitis
  • If You're a Runner, You Can Run 10% Faster and Double Your Endurance By Next Week

Warning: ...
Warnings are always a big attention-getter. They work best if the copy that follows the colon mentions the mistake they may be making/about to make and conveys a sense of urgency.

  • Warning: Don't Spend Another Dime on Pay-Per-Click Until You Read This
  • Warning: If You're Still Using a Currency Marker to Check for Counterfeit Bills, You Could Get a Big Surprise with Your Next Deposit

Give Me... and I'll Give You...
About a year ago, I would have said this one may be overdone. But its popularity has fallen off and the tact of promising a clear benefit in a short amount of time is still quite powerful--especially when you're offering something where "I don't have time" is a common objection.

  • Give Me 5 Minutes a Week and I'll Show You How to Get All the Clients You Can Handle
  • Give Me 10 Minutes a Day and I'll Give You Six-Pack Abs Without Sit-Ups
Tracy Needham, founder of Compelling Communications, LLC, helps small business owners boost their business through compelling copy and marketing strategies that make the most of their time and money. Sign up for her FREE Special Report: The One Press Release You Can Write to Get Thousands of Dollars Worth of Free Publicity at http://www.compellingezine.com . (c) 2008 Tracy Needham

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