Can a Better Headline Strategy Increase Your Impact?

Can a stronger headline strategy help you stand out today?Can a stronger headline strategy help you stand out today?

Today we all compete to get our readers’ attention.  Our best readers may be exposed to over 30,000 different messages in a 24 hour period. How do you create great headlines and content that are not only seen, but acted on? How do you create a better headline strategy for your marketing?

I have been writing headlines for over 25 years now. Many things have changed for the marketer who wants to get their best clients’ and customers’ attention.  I’ll share several shortcuts to help you grab your readers’ attention in this post. However, it’s not enough to have your best clients read it; you need to make your material sharable with your community and other stakeholders in their businesses.

Here are three proven ways to get your readers’ attention when publishing on social media and written publications. Once you start using these easy tips, you find you get better returns on the time you invest in your writing and marketing.

The first headline strategy I employ in creating better content and headlines is borrowing a celebrity ‘s credibility. To do this, you need to create an article that has a quote by a respected leader or celebrity in your field. Richard Branson on team building outpulls almost any other headline you might develop. I did a test by having a celebrity share his ideas versus a great how to headline. The results? The celebrity ideas pulled 10 times more shares for the Richard Branson article. We went from 10 shares with a how to title to over 100 when we highlighted the Branson ideas.

Now this means we need to do research on what our celebrity might think.  This isn’t as hard as it sounds with our handy assistant Google waiting to help you find incredible information very quickly online. When I share a celebrity’s point on view, I’m looking for a hook to get people more interested. It also means that this person resonates with my audience. This doesn’t mean they agree with the person you’re sharing, just that they provoke a response from them.

The second headline strategy I employ is writing your articles with you reader’s agenda in mind. So many great blogs take on an institutional quality. They have incredible ideas and facts, but do not engage the reader in where they are. If you take time to create an article that the reader wants to read to improve their situation, you are more likely to get a response and a share.

To do this I call out my reader in my headline and first paragraph. In the past, we called this a hook, but today it’s even more essential that we target our message.  For example, I might start my article with what every CEO needs to know about X. My readers are primarily CXO level people or want to be. Calling out the CEO in my article gets the right person interested in reading what I write. To get a great headline you must know what your readers consider themselves.

I write for midmarket executives. However, I classify them by title, by competency, or by private or family business leaders.  They seldom think of themselves as midmarket executives. To be successful, you must write to the readers based on how they see themselves or what they aspire to.

My target feels underserved by the business press and media. This provides me a smaller readership online, but provides significant upside when sharing my ideas through direct response and content marketing strategies.  By writing for this underserved market, I stand out from many other writers on similar topics. I write from my senior leadership experience as a former peer to my readers.

The final headline strategy I employ is if you want to stand out from the crowd with your content and headlines, you must learn the rules of the online publishing game. This means that you are aware of the limitations and opportunities of the media you’re working in.  If you’re posting on Twitter, you have less than 140 characters to make your point. Actually, 120 if you want it shared by other people. I can’t tell you how many great articles I’ve found that the titles are way too long to be shared.

You also must remember that your material is going to have limited impact if only shared on one platform once. Most people don’t sit reading their LinkedIn timeline for hours a day. You must find a way to target your message to your best customers and clients by utilizing groups and share teams if you want maximum exposure.  A great headline strategy also includes knowing what media matches your message best.

The bonus headline strategy I employ is learning to leverage tagging, hashtags, and posting times to get the most out of your sharing. I share almost everything I do with 10-12 people who in turn share with their communities at their best times. Learn to share in ways that make it easy for the other person. Find out what they prefer before sharing with them. If you want you material shared, be willing to share others’ material.

In a future blog we will talk about how to build sharing networks that can help support many people growing their networks. It’s easier than you think and can help you leverage your time invested in creating great material.

See you next week.

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