A 4-Step Formula for Creating POWERFUL Headlines

The other day I was driving down the road when I noticed a police car in my rear view mirror.  I wasn’t speeding but just the sight of a police car on my tail grabbed my attention.  I made a turn to lose the squad car but it turned too.  So I made a second turn and the officer was still on my tail.  At this point, I started to wonder if I was being followed.  Finally, the policeman turned and was gone and everything was back to normal.

But I had forgotten where I was headed.  It took me a few minutes to remember.  The low-speed police chase had captured and held my attention to such an extent that I had forgotten what I was doing and had focused my complete and total attention on the police car.  So what does all this have to do with creating attention-grabbing headlines?  Plenty!  If your headline can so thoroughly seize the reader’s attention that he (or she) forgets everything else to focus on your message, then you’ve got a winning headline.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS about headlines.  It’s not all that difficult to write an attention-grabbing headline.  We’re not reinventing the wheel here.  Headlines have been written for centuries and thousands of great headlines proven to attract attention have already been written.

Here’s the BAD NEWS about headlines.  If your headline doesn’t create enough interest to get your prospect to start reading your sales message, you’re done.  Finished.  Game Over.  Sale Lost.  You might have the greatest product or service, a terrific offer, and on and on but you’re not going to make the sale if your prospect doesn’t read your sales message are you?  That’s how important the headline is.

Now let’s answer the important question:  HOW do you create a winning headline?

Here is a simple four-step formula anyone can follow.

Step #1:  Call Out Your Prospect

One proven approach is to call out your prospect.  Think about walking down a crowded street and seeing your friend Jim across the street.  How could you grab his attention?  You could yell, “Hey!!” or “Hey, you!!”  That might work.  It would probably attract attention, but it may not attract Jim’s attention.  A better option would to shout out “Hey, Jim!!!”  That would be more likely to grab Jim’s attention.

Now let’s take that principle and apply it to headlines.  Suppose you’re a tax attorney looking for clients who are having problems with the IRS.  A possible headline might be:

An Urgent Message to Anyone with a Problem with the IRS…

That’s EXACTLY who you are looking for so why not call them out specifically.  That headline would attract the attention of anyone having problems with the IRS, wouldn’t it?

Now, let’s improve the headline.

Step #2:  Be as Specific as Possible

A surefire way to improve any headline is to be more specific about who you are calling out.  I don’t know anything about the business of helping people who are having problems with the IRS, but it must be a big business judging by the number of advertisements I see.  I would imagine the service is offered either at a fee or for a fixed percentage of the amount of money saved by the client or even both.

With that in mind, the tax attorney probably has minimum requirements for the amount owed to the IRS in order to make the service profitable.  The tax attorney probably wouldn’t want a bunch of people who owe the IRS $100, $250, $500, or even $1,000.  There just wouldn’t be enough room to make a profit.  For arguments sake, let’s say someone must owe at least $10,000 to make it worthwhile for the tax attorney to take the case.  So know let’s take that knowledge and be more specific about the type of prospect called out by the headline.  How about

An Urgent Message to Anyone with a $10,000 (or More) Problem with the IRS…

See how that headline is more specific?  This serves two purposes.  First, it should save time by eliminating calls from prospects the tax attorney couldn’t help in the first place – people who owe the IRS less than $10,000.  Second, the headline should be even more effective at grabbing the attention of the type of prospects the tax attorney is really looking for…but we can still do better.

Step #3:   Point out the Pain

Another way to improve your headlines is to point out the pain…not in a mean-spirited, harmful way though.  Humans don’t like pain and will take action to remove pain from their lives whether it’s physical pain (like a backache), emotional pain (like a divorce), financial pain (like problems with the IRS), or any other kind of pain.  So remind them of their pain in your headline.

You could use a headline like this:

An Open Message to Anyone with a $10,000 (or more) “Financial Headache” Courtesy of the IRS…

See how the headline is getting better, stronger, more powerful, more attention-grabbing?  The words “financial headache” remind the prospect of the pain and hassle of having to deal with the IRS.  But we can still do better.

Step #4:  Offer Benefits or Solutions

Next we can offer a benefit or solution.  Regardless of the product or service you are selling, there must be some benefit or solution or there would be no basis for selling it.  Use that to your advantage.  People are looking for benefits that will improve their lives and solutions to problems.

In the case of the tax attorney, what is the benefit or solution?  There could be several.  Overall, the tax attorney is providing a solution to problems with the IRS by offering resolution and the peace of mind of putting the pain and hassle of dealing with the IRS behind them.  Another benefit might be saving money if the debt could be negotiated down to pennies on the dollar.  A third benefit might be speed.  Maybe the tax attorney can do all this in 30 days or less.  Now we have even more ‘ammunition’ for our headline.  How about this:

A Quick Solution for Anyone with a $10,000 (or More) “Financial Headache” Inflicted by the IRS that Could Also Save You Thousands of Dollars…

Now we’re getting somewhere.  We’ve added 2 benefits to the headline.  First, we’re offering a solution – and not only a solution but a quick solution.  And second, we’re offering the possibility of saving thousands of dollars.

What if you were a tax attorney that used to be an IRS agent and have now switched sides and become an advocate for people having problems with the IRS.  You’ve been on the other side of the fence and know the tricks and tactics used by the other team, right?  You could, and should, incorporate that into your headline.  How about this one:

Former IRS Agent Reveals the “Dirty Little Secrets” the Government Hopes You NEVER Discover that Could Cure “Financial Headaches” by Resolving IRS Disputes of $10,000 (or more) and Saving You Thousands of Dollars in 30 Days or Less…GUARANTEED!

It should be easy to see that this headline is much better than the one we started with.  You can go through this process with every headline.  It’s really not that difficult and you’ll get good at it pretty quickly if you practice.

[Ed. Note: Robert Phillips is the No-BW Copywriter at Glazer-Kennedy Inner Circle, an exclusive group of like-minded entrepreneurs, business people, and managers who want to increase their reach, maximize their profits and create for themselves a better, more rewarding lifestyle. Click here to access Glazer-Kennedy’s most incredible free gift offer ever.]