“If content is king, then conversion is queen.” -John Munsell, CEO Bizzuka

In an age where content marketing has become so popular, Munsell’s infamous quote really solidified what a lot of advertisers were already thinking. Good content isn’t enough…it’s the initial impression that will ultimately make or break a connection with an audience.

With so much data at our fingertips, we now know more about what makes a good headline than ever before, i.e. what converts into sales and what doesn’t. We use analytic software, spreadsheets and timelines to measure, track, and compare different options at different times in order to fine-tune our processes.

But statistics alone cannot absolutely predict how a market will react to your message. For a better understanding we need to go back to the basics. As Victor O. Schwab pointed out–if you want to write a good advertisement, a few things must happen in order to achieve desired results:

1. First, you must gain your audience’s attention.
2. Then, you must show them an advantage associated with your product or service.
3. You must have some way of proving your claim.
4. Finally, you must demand action from your audience.

At first glance the list is good and (for the most part) true, but it fails to point out that the first step is by far the most important.

There are two main ways most headlines grab attention. There is a positive path, and there is a negative path. For example:

Positively– by managing to convey, very quickly, how a reader can save, increase, or accomplish something by reading your article or buying your product. Most often this will appeal to people concerned with issues pertaining to mental, financial, social, physical, or security matters.

A few examples of headlines using the positive approach:

The Secret to Professional Happiness

Why Some People Almost Always Make Money Playing Poker

How I Improved My Memory in One Evening

Smoother Skin–Guaranteed!

Or negatively– by pointing out how a reader can avoid things like risk, loss, mistakes, embarrassment, or any other undesirable condition.

A few examples of the negative headline approach:

Are YOUR Children Safe?

How Often Do You Say: “Sorry, I Cant Afford It”?

Are You “That Guy”?

How Much Is Waste Costing Your Company?

The truth is, nobody (except an advertiser) is waiting for an advertisement to appear. As advertisers, we’re the uninvited guests. Most people would rather carry on with their original intentions; reading the news, clicking through to the next meme, or looking up what time that new bakery around the corner will be open on Sunday.

If you want to stand out, you’ve got to provide value to your audience up front. That’s what separates an attention-grabbing headline from one that isn’t. As a writer you’re spending money and time on an effort with no guarantee of a solid return. But if you follow a few of these core principles, tap into basic human nature, and flex your creative muscles a bit, you’ll definitely increase your chances for success.

Whether its web, print, radio, or television, Motivated Marketing has a proven track record of increasing brand awareness and sales for its clients. For a free consultation, please contact us here.