Day 6 – Another 4 Ways to Write Killer Headlines

31 days to write better text by Denise Fay : Achieve MarketingToday I’m continuing with the topic of headlines. I want you to know the basics and have 8 techniques in your copy-writing arsenal to write killer headlines. This article gives you the next four techniques.

To recap, the basics, from Day 4 – How to Write Killer Headlines – The Basics, are:
– Identify who Your Audience Is
– Write for People First
– Ask yourself ‘What’s in it for me?’
– Keep it Short
– Make it Real
– Keep it Simple
– Start Over

The objective of a headline is to:

  • Lull the reader into further reading
  • Be emphatic
  • Resonate with the reader
  • Be persuasive

Yesterday,  I mentioned four techniques in How to Write Killer Headlines: 4 Techniques

1. Ask a Question

2. The’ Reason Why’ Headline

3. ‘How to’ Headline

4. Create Curiousity

Here are another four ways to make your headlines timeless.

1. The News Headline

What can I say about the news headline? It’s a headline that tells you a news-worthy story. It’s obviously the most used headline, because people want to tell news and people want to read  news.

When writing a news headline, please make sure it’s compelling. Just because it’s news-worthy to you, doesn’t mean that it’s newsworthy to the reader and a journalist (if you’re pitching to a paper).

Let’s take a look at how the NYTimes, BBC and Irish Times treated the story of a rogue trader at Societe General going to jail. (Story ran 5 October 2010.)

New York Times:

day 6 how to write killer headlines at


day 6 how to write killer headlines at

Irish Times:

day 6 how to write killer headlines at

They are almost identical. Also, the summary is very similar. Different words but the same information.

Quick popquiz: Which headline would you prefer?

If you’re writing news headlines, learn from the people who do it every day.

2. Command Headline

This headline always reminds me of Nike’s ‘Just do it’. It’s snappy, to the point and has a strong action in it. This headline tells the reader what he needs to do. There is no doubt about it. Start with a strong verb.

Take a look at these command headlines:

  • Discover the fortune that lies hidden in your business
  • Throw away your calculator
  • Use a lawyer to your detriment
  • Dare to be famous

3. Testimonial Headline

The testimonial headline uses a customer testimonial as a headline. It works well for websites, ad copy (online and offline) and sales letters. It gives your reader external proof that your product or service offers value and works. The testimonial headline is a departure from the typical five-worded headline.

Use a testimonial which your customer has written. Make sure you use quotation marks so your reader knows that it is a testimonial.

These are a few testimonial headlines:

I used the headline articles from the ’31 Days to Write Better Copy’ to re-write a headline on a sales page. We doubled our sales and actually ran out of stock.

By attending your workshop, I now have a clearer understanding of researching my audience. I’ve just realised I’ve been targeting the wrong people but I’m going to change that. Today!

4. Direct Headline

The last technique I’m sharing today is the direct one. Say it as it is. You don’t use any clever headlines, no questions, no lists, no emotion. It just tells you what the story is about.

Here are some examples:

  • Free webinar on Linkedin
  • Become a waitress in a Michelin-starred restaurant
  • Sale on Washing Machines Starts Today
  • 2 for 1 on every bottle of wine  purchased

Between today and yesterday, you now have 8 techniques in your arsenal to write killer headlines.

Now go and use them.

Day 6 Homework

It’s the same as yesterday. I’m looking for your favourite Headline of the Day.  (Thanks to everyone who sent theirs yesterday. I’ll be posting them later today or first thing tomorrow)

Go through your RSS feed, your emails, the newspaper, the website, twitter, facebook, whatever you read today and pick your favourite headline of the day. Explain why you thought so.

Send on your headline – by email or comment on post. I’ll feature all headlines on the website. There will be a prize for the most inspiring explanation.

I’ll be posting later in the week a page on all the headlines of interest that I’ve found. So for today, I’m both teacher and student. If I can do it, then you can too. Find an interesting Headline.

About the Author

Denise FayI'm Denise Fay, an international marketing communications advisor. For over 16 years, I've been helping corporations and business owners to promote themselves by communicating the right message with the right audience. They achieve clarity, leads and sales. I'm also an award-winning author, engaging speaker, entrepreneur, business owner and mum of two, I have written copy that has won awards, won clients and most importantly, built relationships. Because at the end of the day, it all comes down to how we relate to others. And writing great copy that engages with your reader is well worth its weight in gold. You too can find wealth in your relationships. I can guide and help you find your words, create an engaging message and build a relationship that results in repeat sales with your customers & leads. Contact me today to get started. Come find me on Google+View all posts by Denise Fay →

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