One of the things I’ve written about in the past is something I call the headline “persuasion trifecta.” Three elements that when integrated into a headline serve as such a powerful tease, you simply cannot blow past it.
Those elements: (1) Self-interest, (2) Curiosity that rises to the level of intrigue, and (3) News.
And, I love when I stumble upon examples of headlines that are potential “teaching moments,” especially ones that work as email subject lines. So, let’s take a look at this one that just hit my inbox a few days ago…
If you saw this as a tease for the evening news…and you were the target market…you’d have to tune it. The audience is massive. And driven largely by self-interest…their health. For decades, we’ve all been told to wear sunscreen or risk cancer…and nobody wants that. Plus, it’s not just about us, there’s an evil (or philanthropic, depending how you look at it) subtext here.
Even if you won’t take care of yourself, you don’t want to expose your kids. So, if you’re a parent who slathers their kids up with sunscreen thrice a day from Labor Day straight through to Memorial Day, you’d be downright reckless to skip past this news, no?
The words urgent information strongly imply your going to learn something new. There’s something big to add to your human database. And, while some of you will instantly sense you’re about to be sold something, many others fear of being sold will be assuaged by the use of the word information. Something like “breaking research” might’ve worked better, though.
What about curiosity? The headline has peaked self-interest, peaked the desire for information, again, for the right person…then not given the answer. Your brain has been primed, your not being overtly sold something, but rather offered information.
Now, granted, a certain percentage of you will also be repelled by the headline.
That’s supposed to happen. A strong headline will provoke a strong reaction…on both sides of the desire spectrum. It’ll draw in the small percentage of readers who are “buyers in waiting” and send everyone else away, either nonchalantly or running.
The worst thing a headline can do is…nothing!
Anyway, end of today’s mini headline-writing lesson.
UPDATE: This headline just hit my inbox –
Now THAT got my attention…but only because I couldn’t stop wondering who funds this stuff? LOL!
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