Back in January, I posted my favorite tip for getting past writer’s block: Craft a headline!
Tonight, on a blog I like called ProBlogger, I came across a great post on the importance of headlines. It also offers some nice suggestions for making the most out of just a few, choice words.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.
The better the headline, the better your odds of beating the averages and getting what you’ve written read by a larger percentage of people.
It goes on to describe some headline techinques:
The copywriting trainers at American Writers & Artists teach The Four U’s approach to writing headlines:
Headlines, subheads and bullets should:
- Be USEFUL to the reader,
- Provide him with a sense of URGENCY,
- Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE; and
- Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.
I’m not saying all the suggestions in this post mirror exactly the way I do it — though they sound pretty good. The big point here is we should probably all spend a little more time on the headlines we use in day-to-day life.
Think about it. We write headlines all the time. The subject line in every e-mail is … a headline. Headlines top every memo, every blog post, every press release, every written article and most Web pages. And I’m certain there are uses I’m missing here.
When pitching the media, for example, a busy reporter may just judge by the subject line of your e-mail or the headline of your press release whether to read on … or trash it. That’s a great deal of impact for 5 or 10 words.
So use them wisely. If they don’t jump off the page for the reader … maybe you should remove them yourself.