Most people suck at writing headlines.
First, let me tell you a few quick things about where the title for this post came from.
I stole it from a famous book called Scientific Advertising by a friendly chap named Claude Hopkins.
If you’re interested in marketing your product and you haven’t read it yet, go grab a copy from Amazon. This book is one of the most famous advertising and marketing books. Read it. Then read it again. Then read it again. Let the content marinate inside your juicy brain. You’ll stumble across not one… not two… but MANY gems.
(By the way, that link above is not an affiliate link – none of my product links are.)
And if you ask any top copywriter or marketer what books he recommends reading, Scientific Advertising is guaranteed to be on the list.
Take another look at the title.
“Address the people you seek, and them only.”
What does it mean?
Use your headline for ONE purpose and ONE purpose only – to address the people you seek.
Maybe this seems like a small difference. I think it’s monumental. Most people write headlines to attract attention. ANY attention. Most think “How can I get the most people to read this post?” rather than “How can I get my target customer to read my post?”
First, figure out what you want to do. Do you want someone to buy your product? Do you want blog comments? Do you want tweets? Do you want an email sign up?
Second, write a headline that attracts THOSE PEOPLE. Don’t worry about the hordes of other people you’re missing… because those people probably don’t care about what you’re writing about.
Don’t write to entertain. Don’t write to make people laugh (or smile). Don’t write to “be clever”.
Don’t do any of those things if you care about your most-wanted response.
Let’s go back to Scientific Advertising. Here are more quotes:
“Only interested people who, by their own volition, study what we have to say read the advertisement.”
“The purpose of headline is to pick out people you can interest.”
“What you have in advertising will interest certain people only, and for certain reasons. You care only for those people. Then create a headline, which will hail those people only.”
“We pick out what we wish to read by headlines, and we don’t want those headlines misleading.”
“The writer of this chapter spends far more time on headlines that on writing, He often spends hours on a single headline. Often scores of headlines are discarded before the right one is selected. For the entire return from an ad depends on attracting the right sort of readers.”
“It is not uncommon for a change in headlines to multiply returns from five or ten times over.”
“the returns vary enormously, due to the headlines.”
Think about this for a second.
If you attract the wrong person, you will NOT get the most-wanted action, whether it’s a tweet, like or sale.
The lesson here is don’t spend any time trying to get the wrong person interested.
Claude Hopkins was one of the greatest advertising pioneers. He believed advertising existed only to sell something and should be measurable and justify the results that it produced. And…
He died in 1932.
So this dude isn’t a recent marketing hotshot from New York. This guy who is probably the reason you use a teeth brush in the morning due to his campaigns with Pepsodent.
Anyway, back to headlines…
You write an ad. Or a page. Or a blog post. Then you write a headline. Your headline determines WHO WILL READ YOUR CONTENT. If you write the wrong headline, the wrong person will read your content and you will fail to get a like… share… tweet… sale.
By the same token, if you write the right headline, the right person will read your content and all your dreams will come true.
Claude Hopkins believed that the entire return of an ad depended upon attracting the right sort of readers.
Think about it.
You do this every day.
If you use Twitter, you are constantly using headlines to sort the stuff you want to read from what you don’t want to read. In a sense, a headline is a time-saving device. Rather than reading the article, you can first read the headline and determine if it contains something that interests you.
Everyone does this with newspapers and at the bookstore. We rapidly filter everything around us to figure out what we should spend our time on.
You know what sucks?
When the headline promises something really cool and then the content doesn’t deliver. It leaves a sour taste in your mouth. And you won’t be clicking on that guy’s headlines again.
Say you have a product that you’re trying to sell. The headline on the page will determine who reads further. The headline needs to be congruent with the content. You can’t promise one thing in the headline and deliver another in the content. Same goes for an ad. Don’t write an ad just to get attention. If you do this with Google Adwords, your conversion rate will suck and you’ll be wasting money. Write to get your TARGET’S ATTENTION.
Like I said earlier – subtle difference, but leads to a big difference in your headlines.
Listen to Claude. Take his advice. And address only the people you seek.
Some people make it hard for people to figure out if they’re interested or not. They deliberately write unclear headlines so people are forced to click through and read… what a waste. Write clear headlines that communicate EXACTLY what your content is about. Then you’ll attract the right people.
Drop Dead Johnny
P.P.S. Take 30 minutes and write a profile of your target customer. How old? Male or female? Likes? Dislikes? Hobbies? Get a good grip on who he or she is. Then write your headlines for THEM and THEM ONLY.
. . .
What if you didn’t even have to write copy? Click here to find out.