We’re all attracted to these type of headlines so we don’t embarrass ourselves in front of others.
Fear, anxiety, and vanity underpin the best headlines. They touch our pride, evoke our sympathies, and make us want to look a little deeper. Just in case we’ve missed something.
Headline Writing: How it works
But this article isn’t about writing mistakes. Rather, it’s about how to craft headlines that get a response from others.
Why would I want to do that?
Regardless of how much effort you’ve put into your proposal, white paper, or case study, or blog article, if others don’t open it, nothing gets read.
Headlines open your document. Think of them as micro ads.
When I asked:
Do you make any of these ten writing mistakes?
It triggered a part of you that answered that question.
- Which mistakes do I make?
- Do others make fun of my grammar?
- What do I need to improve?
And “Which ‘ten’ are they? Do I do any of them?”
Headline Writing: Seven Examples
Here are some great examples to get you started:
Is the life of a child worth one dollar to you?
Used by a company selling car brakes. This evokes fear and guilt in parents. ‘How would I feel is there was an accident and the brakes were the problem?’
Seven types of investors – which one are you?
We’re all curious. People like to know what category/personality type/group they fit into to. Even it they sometimes deny it to others.
77 Ways to a Man’s Heart
You probably know four or five but 77. List headlines are always popular. Note that it’s written for women (i.e. …to a man’s heart). How would you write this for male readers?
Have you these three symptoms?
We all worry about our health. Ever googled about your symptoms? We all do and this type of headline taps into this anxiety.
Headline Writing in Business Documents
Once you understand how to write better headlines, you can apply this skill to all types of communications, for example
- Email – use snappy headlines to get your emails read, responded to, and shared by others. Add time sensitive dates to encourage open rates.
- Twitter – ask interesting questions that evoke responses from others and encourage them to engage, retweet, and connect with you more frequently.
- Policy Documents – you can make the mundane more entertaining by adding a little sparkle to your headlines. Look for ways to intrigue the readers. Make them curious.
- Annual Reports – balance dry financial data with lighter headlines that act as a counter-balance and offer the reader a break from all the heavy reading.
- Employee Manuals – write to be read. While the headlines in your employee manual need to be relevant, give them a twist to make the topic more interesting. This encourages your staff (especially new recruits) to embrace your core values that little bit faster. After all, if they never read your employee manual…
Headlines are micro ads. Write them so the reader feels they’d be missing something if they didn’t read it. One suggestion is to add blend the rational and the emotional. For example, ‘how to get rich and influence people’. Getting rich is fine but a bit dry. Influencing others. Now, that’s interesting.
What else have you noticed about headlines? What examples can you share?