Whether you’ve written an email, blog post, newsletter, white paper, or press release, your primary job is to persuade the intended readers to explore what you’ve written. The challenge is that anyone worth writing for is overwhelmed with potential reading material. Prioritizing and skimming are the norm. Use yourself as an example. When sorting through business or personal reading material, what tempts you to stop and read? The headline!
The headline is a hook that reels in readers. Boring headlines do not grab attention. They do not intrigue or resonate with the audience. They do not communicate the value of the content that you’ve spent time to research and write. Humdrum headlines are not click-bait.
Package and sell your content with a headline that helps the audience to know that your content, email, or press release contains valuable information. Headlines alert intended readers to subjects of interest. Attention-grabbing subject lines entice us to read articles that we may eventually conclude are a waste of time and which we may abandon, but that headline is a siren song for our eyes.
When writing your next article, consider what would be most appealing, or alarming, to your intended readers and as well, most descriptive of the content. The perspective from which you must create your subject line/title is from the intended reader’s ultimate vetting question, What’s in it for me?
Create an irresistible hook that will get your item more attention, more readers, more buzz and the best results. Keep these categories in mind as you compose the headline for your next important communication:
I. The How-to Headline
Content that instructs and informs will benefit from a headline that motivates readers to take action:
- Cold Calling Dos and Don’ts
- Five Tactics Guaranteed To Make You A Better Networker
- Headline Hooks That Reel In Readers
II. The Challenge Headline
Headlines that pose a question that readers are presumed to want answered, because they identify with the predicament described:
- Is Your Business Model Still Relevant?
- Will Producing Content Take Over Your Life?
- Can You Scoop Your Biggest Competitor’s Biggest Client?
III. The Targeted Headline
Needless to say, targeting is the basis of marketing and customer outreach and the more specific the headline is to the interests of readers, the greater the probability that the content will be explored:
- Financial Management Tips for the Finance Phobic
- PR Strategies for Cash-Strapped Start-Ups
- Teaching Brings Cash and Credibility to Solopreneur Consultants
IV. The Warning Headline
“Shock and awe” headlines put readers in a head lock and drag them in, sometimes even if they would rather not:
- What Your Clients Won’t Tell You About Your Sales Pitch
- Why Your Advertising Budget is Only Money Down the Drain
- You Can’t Retire On Less Than $3 Million
V. The Story Headline
Draw in readers with a headline hook that communicates the theme of your compelling narrative:
- A Back Bay Grande Dame Celebrates Her 125th Birthday
- The Client Wore Black
- From Living In a Car to Living At the Taj: An Uncensored Memoir of the Entrepreneurial Life
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is an external consultant who provides strategy and marketing solutions to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Kim is the founder and principal of Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Visit polishedprofessionalsboston.com for more information.
photo courtesy of wocintech [FLICKR]