General

Why do these headlines suck so much?

Finding a soul mate is a big deal. Like finding a network marketer to team up with. Rules to attract someone right and fun for that first look at least, are the same for both.

Some headline boo boo’s finding a soul mate:

“At Match.com,” write Chip and Dan Heath, ” you have two key ways to communicate something quickly about yourself: a picture and a headline. (Just like on NMC – kk). The pic of course, should embrace the social norm and be from 10 years and 20 pounds ago.

“With the headline, you can start from scratch. Given the stakes, these headlines should really zing. They don’t.

“Our search yielded headlines like this one: “Hey.” Another said “Looking for love.” Well, duh, you’re on Match.com. At least two-thirds of the headlines said nothing–and did it poorly.

“Why do these headlines suck so much?

“Fear. Fear of saying too much. Fear of saying something clever that someone might think is stupid. Fear of saying something revealing that might turn someone off. The headlines try desperately not to exclude anyone. In doing so, they succeed at boring everyone.”

Boy isn’t that zeroing in on the problem: we all try desperately not to exclude anyone, and then end up boring everyone. (E.g. “Everyone will want this.”)

Argh.

Suggestions for provocative headlines to attract a right one for your business, to go with your profile, wherever you display it online?


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About the author

Kim Klaver

5 Comments

  • Kim

    This might be too general but here’s what I’ve done on some biz cards.

    Are you a healthy pet nut, like me?

    Does your pet suffer from allergies, like mine used to?

    Does your dog have a sensitive stomach, like mine did?

    Looking for picky eaters for taste tests. Any and all breeds welcome, dogs of course.

    Then I put:
    Contact me for a consultation or sample of dog or cat food I market.

    Too general? Too boring?

    I know these are more for the product.

    Robin

  • There’s an awesome book called Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples which explains how to write great headlines and ad copy, and gives examples of ads that have and haven’t worked, i.e. they tested them and measured the results. Highly recommended! Apparently the secret is to create a “hook” in your headline that requires the prospect to read the rest of your ad in order to satisfy a question. One of the most effective headlines ever written was something like “Do you make these mistakes in English?”, which was advertising a correspondence course. Note that while the headline asks a question, it can’t be immediately answered with yes or no, and the human brain hates unanswered questions… It worked so well because you have to read the whole ad to see which mistakes (“these mistakes”) the headline is referring to! Simple but powerful.

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