This issue is about headlines. Creating effective headlines that will inspire bloggers and webmasters to link to you and cause social networkers and news sites to shout your name from the hilltops.
The subject of this email is inspired by a great headline that was written by John Caples, an ad man at BBDO [One of the largest ad agencies in the world]. The original headline is: “To Men Who Want to Quit Work Someday.” This headline was written for a retirement income plan sold by the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company and it produced 3 times more sales than 25 other headlines that preceded it. [Source: Gary Bencivenga]
Why should you care about headlines that sell things if you’re not selling anything? To answer that question I need to digress from our discussion of headlines for a moment…
Every one of you is out there competing fiercely in a tough and bloodthirsty market. You need every competitive advantage you can get. The ability to market yourself, your company, your product or your service online is now more than just an essential business skill. Marketing online has become a basic life skill. If you don’t know how to market yourself or your business online, you are at a huge competitive disadvantage. That is why I take the time each day to write The Daily Feed. It is my sincere hope that I will help you be more competitive in business and in life.
Most articles or blog posts on creating headlines focus on creating headlines that get clicks. But truly effective headlines attract not only clicks, but the kind of people who buy what you are selling and put them in a buying mood. If you don’t think you’re selling anything, let me remind you (as I’ve said before) that:
All money is made by someone selling something to someone else.
If you run a concrete business in Seattle you’re selling your services to people interested in construction who live in King County, Washington.
If you’re a traffic engineer working for the city of Redmond then you’re selling your ability as a competent and highly skilled engineer and the reason you’re selling this is to ensure your job security and to create new job opportunities for yourself.
If you are a mom who is trying to supplement your income with your photography hobby, then you are selling your photography services.
If you’re a recent college graduate applying to Harvard Business School, then you’re selling the fact that you are a future business leader to Harvard admissions officers and your peers in order to secure your long term financial future.
So when you write a headline, it’s important that you attract the people you are selling to and that the headline and content actually helps to sell them. That is how you’ll get ahead in these uncertain times and that is why you need to write headlines that not only get links and clicks but the right clicks. Clicks by people who buy what you’re selling.
So before you start writing your headline, figure out who you’re selling to. Got a clear picture in your head? Great!
I’m going to give you a technique that simply works. It is a secret that is well known by pro bloggers and is used effectively almost daily on social media sites. It is less well known among amateurs and it is surprisingly under-utilized in the world of traditional media. Ready? Here it is:
People love lists.
It’s that simple. There is something about lists that create, as Robert Cialdini the author of Influence would call it, a “click-whirr” response in our brains. We absolutely have to click on the headline because it’s a list. Don’t ask my why it works – I’m sure there is someone at Stanford medical school right now playing with an fMRI machine figuring out why this response works – but trust me that it does work.
Here are a few examples of list headlines that get clicks. I’ve left blanks for the subject:
10 Secrets that …
7 Amazing … videos
8 Things you didn’t know about …
9 … myths exposed
10 Hilarious …
Can you feel it? I haven’t even filled in the blanks and you already want to click a few of those headlines. That’s the response I’m talking about. Even though it’s well known in pro circles it continues to be effective.
Using lists you can easily craft a headline that will attract the exact people you’re selling to and get them interested in you, your product, your service or in learning more about your ideas.
Tomorrow I’m going to give you a few more tips for effective headlines and I’ll give you a few important things to beware of.