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The Importance of a Good Headline

We know what our bread and butter is: story design. Part of good story design is good copy, and the first piece of copy that one sees is the headline! From terrific headlines come terrific stories, and this is where the Sassy team excels.

Our work product for clients spans a variety of formats, and headline writing is important to each. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned along the way, whether the headlines are for print, digital or another format.

Headlines that rock

When it comes to headline writing, simple and direct is best. In general, headlines with a strong present tense verb and active voice work best. Headlines should convey a benefit to readers when possible, enticing them to read more. David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising” and founder of Ogilvy & Mather, had this to say about headlines: “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.” He’s got a point. A great headline makes people want to read more; a poorly constructed one prompts people to look elsewhere.

Here are some great headline writing tips from Neil Patel and Joseph Putnam at Quicksprout. This chapter in their longer copywriting primer is definitely worth a read! A few goodies:

  1. Your headline should be unique.

  2. Your headline should be ultra-specific.

  3. Your headline should convey a sense of urgency.

  4. Your headline should be useful.

If you’re giving a presentation, headline titles can extend to this medium. You want to write something that makes people want to listen to and participate in your presentation or session. How do you do this?

Presentation titles that reel people in

When giving a presentation, you want to craft titles that not only sell the listener on your skills and expertise but make them want to learn more and elevate their own skill sets.  According to Olivia Mitchell, in her blog “Speaking about Presenting,” there are several things you can do to quickly up the value of your titles!

  1. Promise benefits.  This goes back to our point that headlines should convey a benefit to readers when possible. Try leading your slide with “How to…”

  2. Use the power of the story in your presentation title. (We LOVE this one and couldn’t agree more!) Mitchell writes, “If you’re presenting a case study, this format is ideal for your presentation title. Here’s the format:  ‘How A got to B’. Make ‘A’ and ‘B’ as far as part as possible by adding adjectives.  Example:  ‘How a poor school turned delinquent teenagers into philosophers.'”

  3. Use a number at the front of the title. Goes with the whole benefits thing– let folks know that they will learn “3 ways to get  your teenager to do chores without nagging” or “5 reasons to visit Disneyworld before your kids are eight years old.”

  4. Provoke curiosity and evoke concern.

  5. Mix and match the above suggestions so you are using a variety of title/headline formats.

Looking for help bringing your story to life? Connect with us at Sassafras.


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