If You Don’t Get This Right – Nothing Else Matters
Posted by Wayne in Copywriting, Marketing
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Well, your headline is your first impression. If your headline doesn’t make people stop in their tracks – then everything that follows it is in vain. If your copy or ad is going to be successful, you have to be willing to devote plenty of time to carefully crafting your headline. In this post I want to share how I start my headline writing process. If you follow the steps outlined, you’ll discover how to write headlines that stop your readers in their tracks – and force them to take notice.
The Questions a Great Headline Must Answer
A lot of responsibility rests on your headline. It’s responsible for stopping people in their tracks and piquing their interest. A great headline needs to answer each of the following for the reader:
- -Who Cares? – Why should your reader care?
- -WIIFM – What’s in it for me?
- -Why should I keep reading?
To successfully answer all three of those questions it’s critical that you have a crystal-clear picture of who your prospect is and what the conversation is that is going on in his mind. To paint a clear picture of my prospect I typically write down a short description of my prospect. Here’s an example:
Joe is a 45-year-old male, who is at the beginning stages of his mid-life crisis. He finds it more and more difficult to stay in shape and at his ideal weight. He is an avid golfer and loves watching college football. He drives a Chevy crew-cab pickup truck, and his wife drives a BMW 3 series. blah, blah, blah
This helps me stay focused on the person that truly matters – the reader. The more you know about the product or service you are writing about, the more difficult it is for you to write from the reader’s perspective. By writing a brief bio about your prospect, this will help you get into the mind of your prospect and write to his needs and wants.
Your goal should be to enter the conversation in your prospect’s mind. The concept of entering the conversation in your prospect’s mind was introduced by one of the greatest copywriters of all time – Robert Collier. (If you don’t have a copy of Robert’s book The Robert Collier Letter Book, you should track down a copy today.)
6 Questions to Help You Enter the Conversation Taking Place in Your Prospects’ Minds
- What television shows are they watching? (American Idol, The Bachelor…)
- What magazines are they reading? (People, Vogue, The Economist…)
- What are their hobbies? (Golf, Sewing, Snow Boarding…)
- What is happening in their state, country, region? (March Madness, Super Bowl…)
- What holidays are they currently celebrating? (Valentines, Easter…)
- What do you suspect they talk about around the proverbial water cooler? (Their boss, their spouse…)
By this point, you’ve probably spent about an hour and you haven’t even started writing your headline, and that’s completely okay. Rush through the headline process and all your other work will be in vain. Many of the best copywriters often say they spend as much time writing the headline as they spend writing the entire rest of the piece. So, don’t worry about spending too much time on your headline.
What Does It Do?
What does the product or service you’re writing about do? Does it help people improve or gain a certain advantage? Does it help prevent people from losing something? Or, does it do some combination of the two? People will only respond to your message for the following two reasons:
The ability to prevent loss.
The opportunity for gain.
You have to know which of these reasons your prospects will respond to and determine if you can somehow incorporate this into your headline. For example:
A Little Mistake That Cost a Entrepreneur $10,000 Last Year
This speaks to the fear of losing money unnecessarily. It states that the mistake was little, which implies it will be easy to prevent making this same mistake.
Today… Discover $5,000 of Monthly Revenue Hidden Right Before Your Eyes
Starting a headline with the word “Today” causes readers to associate your content with the events and circumstances that have taken place in their lives today. It also hints that they can discover the solution to making more money today.
Simple-to-Use Headline Formulas
Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure how to start writing your headline? Give these proven headline formulas a try:
___________ That Other ____________ Don’t Want You to Know About
Marketing Secrets That Other Lawn Company Owners Don’t Want You to Know About
Discover the Secret of _______________ and Cut Your ___________ in _______________
Discover the Secret of Autoresponders and Cut Your Administrative Costs in Half
The Secret of ________________
The Secret of Making Money While You Sleep
How I Improved My _________________
How I Improved My Profit Margin in Less Than Two Minutes
Advice to ____________ Who Do/Don’t _____________
Advice to Entrepreneurs Who Don’t Want to Work More Than 10 Hours Per Week
Who Ever Heard of ____________ And Still/Only ________________
Who Ever Heard of an Entrepreneur Working 2 Hours a Day And Still Making Over $1,000 A Day
Writing headlines doesn’t have to be complicated or complex, but it should be taken seriously; after all, if you don’t get this part right, nothing else matters.
Do you have a process or tips for writing better headlines? Please share them in the comment section below.
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