Content Marketing: How to Write Headlines That Get the Attention You Want

Let’s say you and your friends were visiting an underground cave. You all were able to find your way because of the built-in lights. But then, suddenly, … there’s complete darkness. Something had malfunctioned that caused the lights to fail.

And to make matter worse, the Tour Guard had forgotten to bring a flashlight.

You are stuck!

There’s no going ahead or turning backward. No way to move to the left or the right.

Suddenly, there’s a beam of light that appears from somewhere in the cave … You and your friends walk toward this beam as if pulled by its power.

How do you write your headlines to pull your intended prospects into your articles or other written content?

If you desire to position yourself so as to stand out in a crowded market by working smarter, then being intentional to write headlines that have the power to pull your targeted audience is a mandate.

But first, what is a headline?

“A headline is the first set of words that your prospect sees on any piece of copy you write. It’s just like the headline you see in a newspaper.” – David Garfinkel: Advertising Headlines that Make You Rich

  • “American voters head to the polls”
  • “Girl Scout Sells INSANE Amount of Cookies”
  • “Three Easy Steps to Fine Wood Finishing”
  • “Can You Spot These 7 Common Advertising Errors

* Note that all of these headlines work well to get the readers to read the news stories that follow but only the last two work extremely well if you’re marketing your services and products and your desire is to get the prospect to take some action in purchasing your services or products. In the last two headlines, the intention is to create interest in and desire for a product or service that a prospect may need or want.

Can you name a place where there are no headlines? We see headlines on the TV, the Internet, in schools, grocery stores, Facebook, hospitals, billboards, newspapers, books, etc.

But why are headlines everywhere? And the one main answer is that headlines have such amazing pulling power. In the illustration above, we saw how the visitors had no other choice but to walk toward that beam of light.

Think back at some of the headlines that grab your attention. What about those headlines that caught your attention? When you read a newspaper or a magazine, you may read a few of the ads and ignore the rest?

Why is that?

The reason is that there are just too many ads competing for your attention. Having to read all the ads that come to you through your mail, on your TV, or on the Internet may leave you with no time to focus on other things.

So why do those other headlines interest you the most?

Let’s phrase the question this way … what pulls you into the ads that you read? There are many headlines everywhere, some with amazing pulling power, and others only take up space.

Your headline is the most important part of your promotion. The key to writing powerful headlines is to start where your prospects are … to stand in their shoes and see from their perspective. And also to cause them interest, desire, and motivation to take action.

Two Examples:

“How To Win Friends and Influence People” – This headline has a strong basic appeal because most people would want to win friends and influence people.

“Who Else Want Lighter Cake – In Half The Mixing Time?” – This headline will speak to those bakers who would pay for anything that would help to maximize their time when making a lighter cake.

A Useful Technique… The 4 U’s

Whenever you write your headline/s, use the technique of asking yourself whether your headline is useful, urgent, unique, and ultra-specific.

  • “The 12 Greatest Entrepreneurs Of Our Time… And What You Can Learn From Them” (Fortune, 2012)

This headline is:

1. Useful… It causes the prospects to be motivated to find out (“what you can learn from them”).

2. Urgent… It tells the prospects that the benefit is (“Of Our Time”).

3. Unique… Not for (swimmers, teachers, or parents) but for entrepreneurs.

4. Ultra-specific… This headline targets entrepreneurs who would like to learn from the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time.

  • “How I Improved My Memory In One Evening”

This headline is:

1. Useful… It improves memory

2. Urgent… The value is gotten in ‘one evening.’

3. Unique… This headline targets those individuals who want to improve their memory in a short period of time.

4. Ultra-Specific… This headline focuses on improving your memory, not one that focuses on teaching you how to write an eBook like the pros or how to fly an airplane in one evening.

When you write your headlines, remember to present the “big promise” in a clear and concise way within the backdrop of the 4 U’s Technique.

Take the next step and implement what you’ve learned and feel free to let me know your thoughts on this topic. Thanks for reading!

Other Good Resources on Writing Headlines

Great Headlines Instantly by Robert Boduch

Newspaper Headlines (Audio Book) narrated by Mohamed B.S. Hameed

How to Make Your Advertising Make Money by John Caples

How to Write Magnetic Headlines by

The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly

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