Using Headlines in Reports
You may not have thought of putting a headline in a letterit may
seem inappropriatebut good headlines emphasize the benefits youre
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If you dont grab the reader's attention immediately, they may not
even bother to scan your letter. Business people are overwhelmed with special offers and
promotions yours has to stand out!
Your headline has to pull them right into the letter's message it
has to standout.
The Three Kings
Every headline has three basic points:
Benefit what it promises to do, either directly
Target the specific reader (i.e. target group)
that you are writing to.
Magnetism the hook that persuades the reader to
Let's take a heading, and try to improve it.
"Technical Documentation Services."
Could you possibly care less after reading this? I couldnt!
Ok. It says what the company does, but thats about
it. Lets include a benefit to make it more interesting:
"Our writing gets your message across"
Now, this is sharper. There is a direct promise of a benefit. It gets my
attention and interest. Let's target the message:
"CEO: Get your message on Wall Street to crush the Competition"
This might not be to everyone taste, but it does get attention; and
its a lot better than "Technical Documentation Services".
By making this slight adjustment, were focusing on the decision
makers in this case the CEO, so that if you're a CEO reading this headline, youre
bound to feel more interested.
"I want to do that," you'd think. "I should be getting my
message on Wall Street, not my competitors."
Let's go one step further and lead the CEO into the main copy:
"How we get our message on Wall Street and destroy the Competition in
You cant help but want to read what's next because this is
what a CEO thinks about all day long:
How can I get my message across?
How can I beat the competition?
How soon can I do it?
Look at how the headline has changed.
First, it was just a boring statement. Now it has a "human
interest" element. In other words, people can now relate to it.
People are always interested in other peoples stories.
Readers will think to themselves, "Well, how did they do it?"
Even if they try to resist, they will still keep thinking about it in the back of
their mind, which is a sign that your headline is working.
The "How So and So did this" approach is a proven winner in
drawing in readers.
Writing About People
Another effective tool is to place the word "these" carefully in
"CEO, Have You Made These 3 Marketing Decisions?"
Notice that in this headline we dont even mention the marketing
objectives. Weve referred to this indirectly. The headline is so compelling that
it's hard not to continue reading and find out what's on offer.
The word "these" makes you reflect on what "these 3
X Number of Ways
Another approach is to talk about the "X number of ways..."
"99 Ways To Get Your Message on Wall Street."
What are those 99 ways?
Its simple. Number one is the benefit. Number two is the target.