3 Steps to Make Headlines So Powerful – People Are Forced To Read Your Copy!

How to write powerful headlines

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Is there a secret to getting people to read your copy?

You’ve been writing sales copy, ads, and even blog posts, but your prospects just aren’t taking the bait.

It’s almost like there was a party, and you were not invited.

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You see other writers generating high conversion rates and traffic, but you seem left out.

Once you understand basic principles of writing powerful headlines, your response rates will jump, almost magically.

I’m going to give you three simple ways to get mind-blowing attention so you’ll never have to worry about this problem again.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Just so you’ll know that I’m not just blowing smoke about the importance of this, I’m going to give you some statements by heavyweight copywriters and bloggers that will validate my point.

The headline is the most important element in most advertisements.  It is the telegram which decides whether the reader will read the copy.”

  • David Oglivy

“How important are headlines? I’m glad you asked. Some pundits say the headline accounts for 80% of the success of the ad. I, myself, have re-headlined ads and increased their pull by 475%.”

  • Gary Halbert

“Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.”

  • Brian Clark (Copyblogger)

I could put hundreds of statements by many successful writers, both online and off, on how important headlines are, but I think you get the point.

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How to Write Great Headlines in 3 Simple Steps

Before I give you this 3 step blueprint, I want to give you some words of caution.

First, don’t try to be funny or use gimmicks to write your headlines.  Leave that to comedy writers.  Remember, the main goal of your headline is to grab the attention of your reader – not entertain her.

Second, you must address the concerns and needs of your audience or prospects.

Third, don’t fall in love with the first thing that you write.  Writing a good, relevant headline takes time and you will find yourself writing and rewriting your headline many times.

Blog Step1

Step 1: Understand and target your audience.

Before you begin writing anything, you must have a clear understanding of who it is you are writing for.  If you are writing a blog post about how to whack tennis balls, I can guarantee you that your headline will need to address the concern of tennis players.

Not only will it address the needs and concerns of the tennis crowd, but the language and issues concerning this group must be addressed.  In other words, you don’t want to write a headline that will be generalized.  You want it to reflect a specific an audience as possible.

Here are a few examples:

A LITTLE MISTAKE THAT COST A FARMER $3,000 A YEAR

Of course this ad was run in agricultural magazines that farmers would read.  However, look at how specific it is.  The closer you can get to actually naming your target audience in the headline the better.

FREE TO HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS – $6 TO OTHERS

Or

GIRLS…WANT QUICK CURLS?

Once again, this headline targets a particular group of people.  Many times you won’t specifically call out your audience, but it helps to get as close to that as possible, as in the next examples…

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FACEBOOK BUTTONS

Here’s one of the most famous headlines ever…

THEY LAUGHED WHEN I SAT DOWN AT THE PIANO – BUT WHEN I STARTED TO PLAY…!

That last headline was written by the famous copywriter John Caples. It is considered by many to be the most perfect headline ever written.

The point, once again, is to address and select a particular group of people.  Without that, you are randomly shooting into the sky without targeting your prey.

Internet Retirement

Step 2 BloggingStep 2: Grab their attention.

I had a mentor that taught me a great way to remember headlines; he used this formula:

 

B + C = I

Benefit plus Curiosity equals Interest

The idea is to dangle an irresistible benefit in front of your target audience while arousing curiosity.  Remember, you must know what it is your niche/audience desperately wants and tease them with it.

Here’s one by Gary Halbert:

At Last! Scientists Discover New

Way To Look Younger In Just 17-Days!

 

(By the way, if you can stack your headline just like Halbert did in this ad, it has far more “oomph”.)

Let’s analyze why this headline has so much impact and look at the first two words.  These two words are attention grabbers.

At Last!

Right off the bat, your audience is going, “Huh?  Wha…..? What happened at last?  Margret, did we miss something?”

So these dynamic words stop you dead in your tracks.  These two words are very similar to:

New Breakthrough” and “Scientists Reveal”.

If you can get your reader’s attention at the start of the headline, so much the better.

Let’s take a look at the next batch of words.

Blogging Step3Step 3: Suck readers in by making them curious.

Scientists Discover New Way

This is where you use the curiosity factor to whet your prospects appetite.   Look at the very first word of this section – “Scientists”.

How many times have you heard on TV: “1 out of 5 Doctors Recommend Doobies Cough Drops!” (Or something like that.)

Here’s one I recently heard on TV: “As a beauty expert, I am always on the lookout for the latest advancements in skin care…

Any time you can lend some sort of authority to your headline, add it in.  When someone is searching for a solution to their problem, it will come with a lot more gravity if it is recommended by an authority figure.

Also, the words “Discover” and “New” are very important.  The word “Discover” implies that the mad scientists with their lab coats have uncovered something that will make life easier for us (again).

The word “New” in advertising is almost as impactful as “Free”!  Take a look at these examples:

using free and new in advertising

So, using the word “New” in a headline, has a lot of impact.

Of course, adding these words together creates a lot of passionate curiosity. This is especially true when an ad that has this headline is run in a popular women’s magazine.

Now here’s the major league benefit of our headline: “Look Younger In Just 17-Days!

What woman on planet Earth wouldn’t want to look younger in JUST 17 days? Once again, here’s a powerful word that indicates that it will take very little time to realize the major benefit of our offer.

However, the headline in no way indicates exactly what it is that will make you look younger this fast; that’s our curiosity factor.

Take a look at some of these headlines and see if they arouse your curiosity:

7 Ways To Make Sure Your

Wife Is Not Cheating On You!

 

Insane Exercise Tip That Will

Give You 6 Pack Abs Overnight!

 

By the way, “how to” headlines are very powerful and will usually arouse curiosity enough to get your reader to scan your copy or post.

How Eating Squash Can

Boost Your Love Life!

 

New Scientific Breakthrough Shows You

How to Get Rid of Nose Hair – Magically!

 

(By the way, I wrote these headlines myself using headline templates I found on a website.)

Don’t Do This if You Are Writing Blog Posts

If you’re writing blog posts and want to grab attention, you’ll want to keep your headlines shorter.  This is sometimes very important to getting your post to rank well for results pages.

However, if you are writing online sales pages or you are sending out a direct mail piece to prospects, then you can make your headlines as long as you want.

The famous copywriter and marketing guru, Dan Kennedy, likes to write long headlines that are extremely powerful:

dan kennedy long headline

Here’s a formula Mr. Kennedy uses to write some great headlines for direct mail pieces:

headline template dan kennedy

Dan also has some of the best copywriting courses in the business, and I highly recommend them.

Conclusion

In the world of blog posting and copywriting, headlines are extremely important.  If you want to learn how to write great headlines, I would suggest writing a lot of them every day.  Some writers will write no less than 50 while trying to settle on one.

If you would like more ideas and tips on how to write headlines for your posts and sales letters, here are some previous posts I wrote on the subject:

Create Headlines that Drive Traffic

5 Steps to Writing Killer Blog Headlines

6 Headline Writing Habits

Resource Section

Here are some excellent resources that you can use to learn how to write headlines that will grab attention and suck readers in:

The Gary Halbert Newsletter.  This particular newsletter is all about how the “prince of print” wrote some of his best headlines.

Digital Heart Headline Templates

Twelveskip’s 100+ Headline Templates

Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks

QuickSprout’s Headline Writing 101

Neil Patel’s Step by Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines

CopyBloggerHow to Write Magnetic Headlines

Bob Bly’s Headline Checklist

Bob Bly’s Headline Writing Clinic

Oh, and before you leave, here’s some food for thought about a headline issue you need to know about.

 

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