Headlines – how important are they for your business communication?

by Lee Hopkins on February 24, 2006 · 4 comments

in Uncategorized


headlines can generate pleasant interest

Vital! And don’t dismiss this post just because you (erroneously) believe that headlines are just the stuff you see in sales copy. Headlines are everywhere:

  • Newspaper articles
  • Reports
  • Memos
  • Email subject lines
  • The main wording on advertising billboards
  • How you grab your teenager’s attention as they are walking out the door.

Now, do you really think that headlines are only used by advertisers trying to sell something?

And forget the myth that people are only interested in information and if you have great information then they will read you. They won’t if you don’t give them a reason to. Which is where headlines come in…

You have seven seconds (‘seven’ is a magic number for the brain) to grab their attention, otherwise they move on. If you don’t give them a compelling reason to pay attention to your communication then they won’t. They’ll move on and you would have missed a great opportunity.

Even if you think you are not selling them anything, in reality you are. You are selling them on you and your company; your abilities, your experience, your knowledge, your potential to help them solve their problems.

Make sure that you always offer your audience (be that audience there ‘in person’, or being communicated to via the written word) a compelling reason to pay attention. Otherwise they won’t. It doesn’t have to be a ‘highly charged’ sales message. But it does have to be enticing enough to get them to want to pay more attention.

Don’t use trickery, such as a headline about ‘sex’ that has absolutely nothing to do with your content. This will only annoy your guests (quite rightly so) and you’ll never see them again.

Remember: your readers (gosh, and you) are interested in only a few key things — targetting these will knock politely on their emotional fences and get you a better reception:

  • money
  • fame
  • sex
  • success with others
  • career success
  • security
  • love
  • health
  • happiness

Give them a reason to read and you’ll find that the majority will. Those that don’t are probably not interested in the subject anyway and you’d be unlikely to be doing business with them at the moment.

40 great headlines

Here’s a collection of great published headlines that have garnered considerable success for their authors; use them as a starting point for your own headline. You don’t have to be writing a direct marketing advert — how about ‘spicing up’ and giving emotional ‘oomph’ to your next report? If we are all our own brand, then standing out from the crowd is a good thing, if you do it right.

Think about how you can change these headlines to suit your own business purposes:

  1. How would you spend an extra $200,000 – starting tomorrow?
  2. A good reason not to settle for a 10% return.
  3. Maintenance problems giving you a headache? (Aspirin attached)
  4. Toxic People: 10 ways to handle people who make your life miserable.
  5. Supposed this happened to your car.
  6. Take one day to learn how to read men’s minds.
  7. How to literally write any size pay cheque you like, as often as you like.
  8. How to print all the money you want – legally!
  9. Advise and profit – how to create exceptional income as a consultant.
  10. I know 97 specific ‘tricks’ to creating ads that reach out and suck money right out of peoples’ wallets like an out-of-control vacuum cleaner ‘monster’ – how many of my tricks would you like to know?
  11. What to write on a simple postcard mailing that will make people flood into your business.
  12. Discover how to turn what you already known about your work, hobby or personal interests into a million dollar information products empire!
  13. How to rub your stomach away.
  14. Why do Chinese women have such an impossibly low rate of breast cancer?
  15. The 7 critical things you must do to guarantee that your athletes win under pressure
  16. Yes, YOU can learn to paint works of art that you can be proud of and that others will admire.
  17. How a $7 investment can make you a celebrity and boost your business by 367% or more!
  18. How to triple your income by doubling your energy.
  19. What’s the key secret to increasing your income by 917%? If you don’t know, read on. You’ll find out what it really takes to pull more sales and profits from every ad or sales letter you ever use.
  20. Solve all your money problems forever (with absolutely no work whatsoever).
  21. How easy ‘instant mail order’ lets you quickly escape the payday-to-payday rat race.
  22. Learn to make money like a millionaire
  23. How to make big money writing and selling booklets in the next 30 days.
  24. 50 idiot-proof ways to make money on the internet.
  25. Think and grow rich this year and for the rest of your life!
  26. Ex Marketing Director of international publishing firm REVEALS priceless ‘trade secrets’ that have been kept under wraps for years!
  27. A surprising new discovery for those who’ve always suspected they had the ‘right stuff’ to succeed in their own business… but who haven’t yet quite got going.
  28. Do fears hold you back?
  29. How to accomplish anything you want in life.
  30. How to be your ‘possible self’
  31. To become financially independent, it helps to BE YOUR OWN BOSS.
  32. Is your future worth ten dollars?
  33. Attention entrepreneurs: what would it take to make 1998 your best year ever? Would an extra $100,000 help?
  34. Financial strategies for successful retirement.
  35. Here, at last, are the unspoken sexual health secrets you’ll never hear from your doctor. Your husband. Your wife. Or, heaven forbid, your mother!
  36. It’s ugly but it’s beautiful [...for a Volkswagen, if you are curious]
  37. The Post Office wouldn’t let us mail you a cup of fresh, hot coffee. Look inside for the next best thing.
  38. We can free the writer in you.
  39. What will your life be like in five years?
  40. How to recruit, interview and hire the right person. A step-by-step system for selecting the best person for every job.

…and one more for luck: “My friends and family were convinced I’d fail my exams. But when the results came through…”

Got any favourite headlines of your own that you’d like to share? Apart from the “At 60 miles per hour the only sound you will hear is the clock”…?


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  • http://www.pastorrobbie.blogspot.com/ Robbie H

    How timely, I was working on a brief writing to use in our church bulletin when the feed came through. I was able to work off one of the headline examples you gave and it was extremely effective. So well, in fact that I put it on my blog and will use on our church website too. Thanks.

  • http://www.pastorrobbie.blogspot.com Robbie H

    How timely, I was working on a brief writing to use in our church bulletin when the feed came through. I was able to work off one of the headline examples you gave and it was extremely effective. So well, in fact that I put it on my blog and will use on our church website too. Thanks.

  • Lee

    G’day Pastor Robbie! Glad to be of help — what was the headline?

    Love your blog and your website — I’ll pass your blog url across to my senior pastor; I’ve been saying he should be blogging for ages! And your website is stunning – makes the one I created for our church insipid by comparison. What size congregation do you have? Do you have someone on staff who manages your site for you?

    God bless,
    Lee

    http://www.stirlingfamilychurch.org is our church website

  • Lee

    G’day Pastor Robbie! Glad to be of help — what was the headline?

    Love your blog and your website — I’ll pass your blog url across to my senior pastor; I’ve been saying he should be blogging for ages! And your website is stunning – makes the one I created for our church insipid by comparison. What size congregation do you have? Do you have someone on staff who manages your site for you?

    God bless,
    Lee

    http://www.stirlingfamilychurch.org is our church website

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