How do I write my headline? How to write great headlines that keep readers engaged? And does a headline gets the client’s instant attention?
Let's find out, shall we?
You’ll see the waffle in headlines everywhere you look.
You’ll see a headline that’s weak. And wimpy.
Headlines that say: “Do you fit this category?” (As in: Do you have these problems in sales?) And then that headline proceeds to list every sort of problem relating to every sort of target audience that could possibly be interested in sales. And to me, that’s not a headline at all. That’s just shotgun stuff. Fire and hope to hell it hits some one.
The funny thing is the shotgun approach to writing a headline works
Sure it does. But not quite as well as a hit straight between the eyes. If you want to write a headline that caters to the exact wants of your clients, you need to work out the client’s biggest pain in the-you-know-where.
You need to seek out the biggest issue; the biggest problem to get your client’s attention.
What do you think is the thing that drives your audience completely crazy?
Let's look at an example, shall we?
A client of mine, Colette, has a Meditation class that she’s facilitating. Now she may write a lot of headlines to sell that meditation class, but nothing builds a great headline as something that bugs the heck out of clients.
And if you’ve ever tried meditation, you know what I mean.
You sit quietly in one corner, trying to meditate, but your brain buzzes around like a fly on a sultry summer’s day. You swat the ‘fly’ and get back into your meditative pose. And the thoughts come gushing back all over again. Then, in frustration, you decide that meditation is not at all for someone like you.
So what’s the pet peeve in meditation?
It’s that you’re not used to sitting still. And the task of having to sit still, and then put the brakes on your brain is well…close to impossible.
So in effect the pet peeve is the factor of sitting still.
The wannabe-meditation folk just don’t want to sit still. They'd love meditation, if it didn't mean they had to sit quietly in one corner.
So what do you do with the pet peeve?
You put it up in flashing lights on your headline, that's what you do.
A headline like this: Does meditation drive you crazy because you have to sit still? (How to get the medical and spiritual benefits of meditation while on the move)
See how that headline gets the client’s instant attention?
Now yes, there are those among us who will say: “Humbug! Meditation on the move is not meditation at all.” But it’s not humbug for those who’ve tried to meditate several times over, and failed. They’d take to the class like bears to honey. (BTW: Meditation doesn't need sitting still, just in case you didn't already know that)
Let’s take another example
I’m having a workshop in California. It’s about website strategy and the target is small businesses.
So let’s stop and think.
What’s the pet peeve of small businesses worldwide? Small business owners go to these seminars and read books written by Internet gurus. And these gurus talk about earning squillions of dollars. But hey, what’s the average size of the subscriber list of the small business owner? It’s a tiny number of subscribers often 500 or less. And maybe a few thousand, if they're lucky.
So my headline says simply: ‘What do you do if you don’t have 10,000+ customers on your subscriber list?’ (And how do you create a website that not only attracts more customers, but actually gets customers to keep coming back and spending larger sums of money each time?)
This is a pet peeve for small business owners
Small business owners around the world are sick of being sold some new fangled system to make another squillion dollars with their websites. They want strategies that are sequential, and Lego-like. They don’t want two dozen presenters giving them twenty thousand ways to grow their business. And they want someone who understands the fact that small businesses have small customer lists.
And the headline works very hard to attracting that specific type of customer, by bringing up that customer's pet peeve.
But a pet peeve does more than just create a great headline…
The pet peeve creates a niche; a strategy for you when you write a headline
Solving this pet peeve is more than just about writing a headline.
It gets you to think about what customers really want. It gets you to create your products and services in a manner that’s unique from all those rabble-rousers and snake-oil salesmen.
Your headline and the customer’s peeve create a sense of direction, a strategy. So now, not only do you have a great headline, but a way to generate far greater revenues, simply by knowing your customer better.
So work harder on your headlines
Because a waffly headline often means a waffly strategy and a waffly niche.
Kind of leads to waffly cash-flow.
And we don't want that, do we? Cause that's not a pet peeve.
It's a pain in the you-know-where!
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Jef Menguin says
Great post Sean. I have learned a lot from you today. Keep on writing practicable marketing tips.
Sean, very useful article on headlines, one of the very best I’ve read, by far.