You might want to save this and keep it next to your computer. Then next time you’re stuck for a headline, just refer back to it to get your creative juices flowing. And don’t save this just for sales letters – you can use this cheat sheet for any headline – newsletter subject lines, blog post headlines, article headlines, etc.
HINT: You can also use this cheat sheet when you’re stuck for ideas of what to write about!
Tie Into Breaking News – anytime you can tie your writing into current events you’ll grab more eyeballs.
Call Out Your Reader – is your reader somehow missing the boat? Call them on it in the headline.
Offer a Proposition – if you give me 5 minutes, I’ll show you how to erase 10 years from your face.
Be Shocking – this one is a little risky but the benefit can be tremendous. Note: Be sure you’re not using shock value simply for the sake of shock – it’s also got to tie directly into your message.
Use Sex – yes, sex captures attention, and if you can tie it into your message, so much the better. Just make sure it’s not x-rated.
Be an Advocate – your reader has enemies, so take the position of advocate for your reader. For example, if you’re offering natural remedies, the enemy might be profit seeking drug companies pushing deadly pills to make a fast buck.
Curiosity – the more curious the better. People have an insatiable need to KNOW, so if you can make them curious enough in the headline, they won’t be able to leave until they find the answer in your copy.
Odd Cause and Effect – can you erase acne with a frying pan? Or maybe show someone how to increase their income by spending MORE? Then you might have a great headline.
Let’s Make a Deal! – are you making a dynamite offer that gives tremendous value for a relatively low price? Or offering tremendous benefits just for reading your blog post? Then state it right there in the headline.
Offer Revenge – who doesn’t want to get even with the person or business who did them wrong? Promise them in your headline that they can, and they’ll read your copy to the end.
Tell a Story – no, you won’t tell the whole story in the headline, but you can get a good start on one. What happens when someone says to you, “Once upon a time…” You’re riveted, right? It’s in our programming to listen closely to stories, and they are still one of the best, yet least utilized tools in our marketing arsenals.
Ask a Hot Question – “Do you know 4 ways to make $1000 cash in the next 3 hours?” “How can you get people to obey your every wish?” You get the idea.
Do the “If” or “When” Shuffle – “If you like ___, you’ll love ___.” or “When you take these 3 steps, you’ll get this benefit.”
Do the “If” and “Then” Sequence – “If you do x, then you’ll get y.”
Show Frustration – “Don’t you hate it when you spend an hour writing the perfect email – and no one responds?”
Name Drop – “Dustin Hoffman confided to me that…” You get that point.
Hit The Emotional Button – “Stop living in fear of…” Few things grab your readers’ or prospects’ attention like accessing their emotions.
Add or Solve a Mystery – Is there something in your niche that hasn’t been solved, and you may have the answer? Or can you create a mystery of your own?
Use a Startling/Bizarre/Attention Grabbing Photo/Picture – have you seen those ads that use weird faces? Usually the picture has nothing to do with the ad, but you look anyway. If you can find an attention grabbing photo that DOES go with your writing, by all means place it at the top. Photos that need explanation are the best, since people will read your copy to find out what’s happening in the picture.
Use Urgency – Setting a deadline in the headline eliminates the reader’s desire to procrastinate reading what you’ve got to say. “World Ends at 5 p.m. Today!”
Be Scandalous – can you create a scandal or expose one in your niche? Then you may have the hottest headline yet.
Confirm Their Fear – if your readers already hold a fear or a suspicion, go ahead and confirm it – they’ll appreciate the validation and be open to what you have to say.
Debunk a Myth – is there a common line of thought in your niche that just isn’t true? Debunk it and you’ll be the instant authority in your reader’s eyes.
Make a Bold Prediction – go out on that limb to make a startling prediction and not only will people read your writing – they’re also more likely to remember what you say.
Break News – being one of the first to report a new development makes for a great headline and excellent reading.
Attack – your reader’s don’t like something or someone – maybe it’s as mundane as housework, or perhaps it’s the government, the media, banks or the drudgery of answering emails. Whatever it is, attack it head on and then offer a solution.
Offer a Cheaper, Easier, Faster or Better Solution – your readers have a problem and you’ve got a superior solution, so let them know that in the headline.
Use an Off-The-Wall or Compelling Quote – “You Can’t Handle The Truth!” or “I Buy When Other People Are Selling” come to mind.