A Look At How to Write a Headline for Best Results

Whenever I get the chance, I would take almost any excuse o visit the bookstore, and I found the perfect opportunity when a nephew of mine needed some books on advertising and marketing, so I volunteered to get him a few.

Incidentally, I also got myself quite a few books.  I could spend hours going through those New York Festivals and The One Show coffee table books that feature some of the best and most creative ads ever made.

Apart from the immensely creative and highly artistic imagery that goes into the entries, I am also so much a fan of brilliant copy that goes into them.

See, this is why I urge everyone who’s into online marketing to check out as many ads as they can whenever they can.  While we do live and work on the internet, where mostly all data is just a jumble of ones and zeros, there is still a very human and very creative side to it all, and if you manage to capture that essence into your online marketing campaign, cuzin, you’ve got yourself a winner.

Take for instance the copy that goes into the content of websites today.

Have you seen many articles, posts, emails, or whatever written work online that you can say was done by people who know how to write good headlines?

How many times have you had to actually stop because your attention was really grabbed by something written and you had to stop your browsing just to read it through?

I’ve come across some campaigns that were actually well conceived and also laid out pretty well, with great images and a few catchy videos, but when I got down to reading what the site had, I just simply had to shake my head, because the writing was just simply so sad (and by that I mean really bad).

Let me be a bit more specific at this point then, I don;t just mean that the grammar was bad or that it was chockful of writing errors.  A lot of these sites had copies in them that were written in a manner best described as passable.  But it stops right there, and that’s where the problem is.

See, passable doesn’t really much people interested to read more.  It certainly doesn’t get me, the only reason why I tend to read on through most of the copy in these sites is that I am evaluating them, so I really need to see what else is wrong.

My beef here is that I sure wish these people would put in a lot more effort into actually trying to capture the attention of readers through their copy content.

To some this might seem like me beating a dead horse, but I just can’t help it.  I see a lot of potential in a lot of sites out there, a lot of potential in their ideas, and it’s all brought down by a very simple thing:  failure of their headlines to grab attention and encourage further reading.  I’ll do this for as long as it takes, regardless of how much it takes out of me, for as long as I am able to drive home the point.

Use the emotional connection angle

A lot of the winning entries I’ve seen in the New York Festivals and The One Show feature headlines and imagery based on a strong evocative emotion that readers will definitely relate to.  Using the emotional angle is very, very good in these times because people are just getting really jaded about things, and mostly the only way to get through them is to trigger a strong emotional response from them.  People definitely be different, but a lot of people may react similarly to a specific emotion, since thet’s mainly how we humans are built, otherwise we’d be robots.  A good thing about this is that the emotional angle will practically work for any product, service, or brand you might have, all it needs is a bit of creativity.  Some of the best ads I’ve seen would seem to have absolutely no realtion or connection to the headline, copy, or even the imagery featured in their ads, but it drives home the message just the same.

Use the problem statement

Apart from being jaded, another problem with people nowadays is the fact that everyone seems to be in a hurry no matter what they do.  It’s gotten to a point that if you want people to know about you, you have to be able to put in what you’re all about, what solution you offer, what product you sell, and why people should get you instead of the competition into one sentence that they can read in one go.  This sentence has to encapsulate all your best qualities and at the same time be interesting enough to rise above being hard sell.  Therein lies the irony:  people rush, but they still hate hardsell.  For people like these, what works is the immediate statement of the problem, a problem they may very well have.  Once they see the problem statement, they may immediately be able to relate to it, and result in their attention being caught.  Now, you might say, “cuz, this approach isn’t really new”, and you’d be absolutely correct.  But if it isn’t new, how come no one has been able to do it right?  Like I said, the right way to do this is to be direct, but not hardsell.  There is always a creative way to state the problem, doctors and lawyers will testify to this, so it’s definitely a good idea to explore the best way to state a problem that your product solves.

Use the force

Nothing sways the belief of people more than confidence.  A person’s specific confidence and belief in something could be quite contagious.  Many have been swayed by the conviction of a very “happy” customer about a product that they are actually willing to try the product out themselves.  This is why testimonials are still all the rage for all sorts of marketing campaigns.  It’s not enough that you lay down hard, scientific and statistical proof that something does really work, you have to really show people, by body language or by how you present it, that you believe your product delivers on its promise.  Truth in advertising being what it is, a lot of advertising campaigns and marketing strategies often include a good amount of embellishment and fibbing about just how effective their product really is, but people are becoming more wise to this.  A lot of people can now tell if you are just a market doing his job, or if you a believer in what you are marketing and can answers any product questions on a more personable level.

Use shock and awe

Now, if you can’t help but fib a bit about your product, be sure that all of your fibbing is hinged upon the notion that your product may be abe to deliver your embellishments, given the right circumstances.  I say this because I have seen a lot of fantastic claims on certain ads about how effective a product is, how long the effects are, how much you stand to save if you buy it, and the like.  Your product must have at least one stellar quality to it.  Capitalize on this by stating this quality in a manner that will make it stand stark and bold and a little incredible, because this is a great way to pique someone’s interest.  Take note, however that shocking and awe-inspiring qualities are distinctly different from overbearing and arrogant-sounding promotions.  The way you’re using shock and awe here is by presenting surprising things you may not have known about the product, and not trying to impress upon the consumers that what you have is simply too good to be true and is really not fit for mortal consumption.

I have specifically chosen to focus on the headline here because I have seen, over the past month a lot of sad, ineffective, and lackluster headlines of posts, articles, marketing copies, and even blog posts.  Some of these are actually from people I know, in which case you people owe me a huge thank you and a hot mug of good coffee.  Some of said posts would have been brilliant, had they been led by an effective headline as I have just discussed.


Andy “The Headliner” Jenkins