Monday, June 11, 2012

The Most Important Class in you Life!

Well... maybe not the most important, but headlines, which is what we're focusing on today, are quite important in terms of grabbing a potential reader's attention. Today we're going to focus on headlines for posts or articles online. First of all, though, could you post something about your weekend on twitter. Think of creating a headline that summarizes your weekend! Remember, headlines need to grab a reader's attention. What's something about your weekend that might grab someone's interest?

How to Write Headlines That Work

Fill in the following blanks…

Your ______is the first, and perhaps only, ______you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a _______into a_______, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.





But a headline can do more than simply ____ attention. A great headline can also ______a full message to its intended audience, and it absolutely must _____the reader into your body text.




At its essence, a compelling headline must promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, in trade for the valuable time it takes to read more.

In The Copywriter’s Handbook, copywriter Bob Bly sets forth eight time-tested headline categories that compel action and rake in sales:

  • ___________go straight to the heart of the matter, without any attempt at cleverness. Bly gives the example of Pure Silk Blouses – 30 Percent Off as a headline that states the selling proposition directly. A direct blog post title might read Free SEO E-book.

  • An ______________takes a more subtle approach. It uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind, which the body copy answers. Often a double meaning is utilized, which is useful online. An article might have the headline Fresh Bait Works Best and yet have nothing to do with fishing, because it’s actually about writing timely content that acts as link bait.

  • A __________is pretty self-explanatory, as long as the news itself is actually, well… news. A product announcement, an improved version, or even a content scoop can be the basis of a compelling news headline. Think Introducing Flickr 2.0 or My Exclusive Interview With Steve Jobs.

  • The ____________is everywhere, online and off, for one reason only – it works like a charm. Bly says that “Many advertising writers claim if you begin with the words how to, you can’t write a bad headline.” An example would be, umm… oh yes… the title of this post.

  • A ________must do more than simply ask a question, it must be a question that, according to Bly, the reader can empathize with or would like to see answered. He gives this example from Psychology Today: Do You Close the Bathroom Door Even When You’re the Only One Home? Another example used way too much in Internet marketing guru-ville is Who Else Wants to Get Rich Online?

  • The ________boldly tells the prospect what he needs to do, such as Exxon’s old Put a Tiger in Your Tank campaign. Bly indicates that the first word should be a strong verb demanding action, such as Subscribe to Copyblogger Today!

  • Another effective technique is called the ____________Your body text consists of a numbered list of product features or tips, which you then incorporate into the headline, such as Two Hundred Reasons Why Open Source Software Beats Microsoft. It’s not even necessary to include the words “reasons why.” This technique is actually the underlying strategy behind the ubiquitous blogger “list” posts, such as 8 Ways to Build Blog Traffic.

  • Finally, we have the_________, which is highly effective because it presents outside proof that you offer great value. This entails taking what someone else has said about you, your product or service, and using their actual words in your headline. Quotation marks let the reader know that they are reading a testimonial, which will continue in the body copy. An example might be “I Read Copyblogger First Thing Each Morning,” admits Angelina Jolie.

Command Headline

Question Headline

Testimonial Headline

Reason Why Headline.

How to Headline

Direct Headlines

News Headline

Indirect Headline

PART B  Finding examples of the above headlines

In partners please find a good example and a bad example of five different kinds of headlines from the above list. You'll have twenty minutes to find your examples from articles on various websites. After you have found your headlines, you will show them to a new partner who will have to guess what kind of headline it is.  Have fun!

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