Replaying some of my favorite posts – these are typically articles written because we had clients ask us questions or we were discovering some marketing tips in coaching our clients on installing the world’s best and most practical marketing system for small business and nonprofits.

Speaking of creating powerful headlines that work, check out this article called “3 Successful Headline Secrets from NY Times“.  He suggests 3 things:

  1. Be ______.
  2. Be ______.
  3. Be ______.

(hey, read the article if you want to fill in the blanks!)

Now . . . on to the replay from just over one month ago – don’t you just love the picture of that horse!



Need a headline for an email marketing message, an eye-catching LED road-side message board, a re-tweetable tweet, or your latest online news article?

Perhaps you could use some B-R-A-I-D-S.

Try using some of these elements to grab their attention! (to give proper attribution to each photo below, I’ve linked each image below to the site where I found it):

Benefit: one of the more obvious elements of a great headline is to make sure the reader knows its value. Sometimes it is for the direct reader, but often times (especially in this age of Twitter), the benefit may be relevant to a friend or colleague of theirs. Repeatable (and re-tweetable) information often is first recognized by a relevant headline message.

Restriction: this is not meant to sound exclusive, but the idea is to limit your message to a specific group so that group notices it! If you say, “15% off your next oil change” vs. “all Fort Worth firefighters get 15% your next oil change” – then your targeted message reaches those for who it is intended. In this example, if the firefighter doesn’t see it himself, his friend may more easily call him and alert him of this unique offer just for Fort Worth firefighters. Try targeting your headlines along demographic lines (gender, ZIP code, age, etc.) versus a generic message and see if you don’t get more laser-focused success. (along these lines, one of the best niche marketing experts offers a virtual business gym to learn more for only $57/month)

Action: a C2A is one of the most missed elements! While the call-to-action may not always find its rightful place in the headline, you must capture the attention of the reader in a way that immediately upon reading, they know what to do next. I like the picture below – I’m almost compelled to find out more at those kids’ website. Your action step doesn’t always need to be (and perhaps never should be) the actual transaction – if you are committed to getting your customer to know, like and trust you, then educate and guide them to a next step that will convince them that the decision must be made. This is the difference between SELLING and COMPELLING! (drive them to a phone # or website – in Texas, we call this the Texas 2-Step!)

Incentive: something of great value will likely always draw the interest of a reader – a free MP3 player, free money-saving report, buy-one-get-one-free offers do work to at least interrupt their train of thought to want to know more. There’s no guarantee that your incentive is inherently strong enough to close the deal, but it got them looking your way.

Deadline: set the clock on ’em! Let them know that the offer is only for a limited time. Do overdo this one – you can’t have a “the clock is running out” claim each and every week – your audience will see right through it and wait for the next time it’s offered.

Stop-Value: your headline may be funny, controversial or provocative – either way, the passer-by will stop dead in their tracks! Sometimes appropriate shock-value may do just the trick.


Resist the urge to make your headline about yourself. It may be appropriate at times (rare), but fight the temptation to put yourself first. When you are busy or under the gun, our natural default is to make our headlines about us, us and us. It’s not about you – it’s about them. When it’s all about you and your product, then the listener tunes out.

This blog fits in well with what we are talking about with the participants in our current 8-week marketing coaching program. Our next session begins September 22nd **Updated Sept 20, 2010 – Next Coaching Program Begins October 13, 2010!** (here for more details).


Horse in Braids image credit: nytimes