Five Headlines That Get Attention

No matter what message you are trying to communicate, online or offline, the first hurdle to overcome is the prospects willingness to read what you’re trying to get across. Studies show you have three seconds or less to show what you have for a prospect is something they are interested in.

In almost all cases the place you have to convince them to read on is in the headline. For email it’s the subject headline. In a magazine article, it’s the article headline. If you’re creating a brochure its the headline on the front page, and in a direct mail piece, if you can get them to open it, it’s the headline at the top of the first page.

If you don’t get them interested at that point you risk having your piece deleted, put down, thrown in the bin or the page turned over. In most instances that’s the last chance you get to deliver your message. Particularly in today’s fast paced, time constrained, fickle world.

So I want to share with you 5 headlines that work hard to get your prospects attention. All you need to do is change the details to suit your audience and your message.

Lets start with the style of headline I’ve used here on this blog post and in the emails I’ve sent out to bring people here to the article.

List Helpful How-Tos

Here you are letting people know there are a list of helpful things the prospect needs to know. Examples for this are

  • Ten Ways To Reduce Your Income Tax This Year
  • How to increase your returns and lower your inevstment in equipment
  • Five things you should know before ordering wine for a client
  • This years twenty best gifts for teenagers
  • What to do when your customer won’t pay you

You can see all these headlines offer pieces of information that can help the prospect. Making life easier, saving time and/or money.

Tell A Story

Stories resonate with all of us. We just love a good story. It goes back to our childhood when our parents and grandparents would read us a story to get us to sleep or keep us entertained. Stories are how we communicate best. Headlines that introduce a story have a great power to get us hooked in. Especially when the story is about something we either want, or want to avoid. These can take forms like…

  • How one old man accidentally invented the fishing lure that revolutionized the industry.
  • When Dr. Smith is not doing surgery here in town, he’s volunteering to help the poor in Calcutta.
  • Recognize this ten-year old gymnastics student? He grew up to be an Olympic Gold Medalist.
  • The Plumber and the diamond ring.
  • How we turned the worlds best beef into the worlds tastiest sandwich
  • Ever wonder what goes on inside your furnace?

Headlines that introduce a story need to tap into something your prospect is bound to be interested in. If you can elude to the story containing information they stand to learn from, you’ve got a powerful headline.

Shock and Surprise

These are headlines that alert the reader to impending doom they didn’t even know was coming. These are very powerful headlines that need to be treated carefully because there is a risk you can turn the reader off if you take it too far. But get it right and people get drawn in like moths to a flame. We are always on the lookout for what threatens to hurt us, our families and our livelihoods.

  • You may have cancer and not even know it.
  • The average kitchen cutting board wouldn’t pass a restaurant food inspection.
  • If a disgruntled employee walked in with a gun, would you know what to do?
  • Ten things your accountant will never tell you unless you ask.
  • Four out of Five teenagers try drugs and never tell their parents.

I tend not to use positive shock and surprise headlines like “Surprise, You’ve Won…”. They just don’t get the same readership. Shock and surprise headlines tap into our innate desire to avoid pain and suffering.

Flag The Prospect

We are attracted to messages we know directly relate to us. If you can name the prospect in the headline you’ve got a great chance of being read. This doesn’t have to be the persons name (though that is fantastic if you can find a way to do it), flagging the prospect can also be naming them by who they are in life or the subject they are interested in.

  • Thinking about getting divorced? Call our Lawyers first.
  • Introducing a health clinic for women, by women.
  • If you like chocolate, you’ll love our new store.
  • Attention, migraine sufferers. Get instant relief.
  • Seniors get an automatic 20% discount
  • Serving armed forces personnel since 1942
  • B-boys Breakin it Saturday nights. Gotta get up to get down. (insider slang)
  • If you think Javascript is writing with coffee based ink, don’t visit our website. (insider technical jargon)

By flagging the prospect you let them know you are for them.

State An Emotional Benefit.

Emotional Benefits are high power headlines because they tap directly into what really drives us. We like to think of ourselves as rational and reasonable. But the truth is that once our basic needs of food water and warmth are met, we start looking to fulfill our emotional desires and avoid our irrational  emotional fears.

Emotional headlines need to state and emotional benefit that alleviates a fear or fulfills a desire.

  • Feel 10 years younger.
  • Never worry about sewage problems again.
  • Give your family a vacation memory they will always treasure.
  • Make your money work harder so you can relax.
  • Find the career of your dreams online.
  • Your house will be the envy of the whole neighbourhood.
  • Revenge is sweeter when you get the loot.

And never underestimate the power of our nastier side. People rarely admit to thoughts of revenge or envy, but everyone has those conversations with themselves. People are motivated by their emotions. Fear is one, but it’s not the only one that powerfully moves people. Think about the emotions driving your prospect when they think about your product or service.

Using these headline strategies will get your messages read by more people more often. The key to it though, is knowing your prospect and what they are interested in. Share with people in the comments below what you think really drives people.

That’s how to get this online thing to pay.

Kindest Regards


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