Why Headline Formulas Never Work

Headlines have a heavy job.

lame heavy picture

"Haha, I get it – cause headline are heavy and this is a weight..."

They have to attract a reader’s darting eye long enough to (hopefully) get them to read the first line.

If your headline doesn’t grab attention, well then they’ll never read the rest of your copy and you’ve lost a sale.

But you already knew that!

However – do you know why most headline formulas are only half-baked?

There’s a lot of marketers that like to claim theyv’e found the headline formula, and even I’ll crank out “how to’s” and “Formula for blah blah” articles every now and then.

But I remain a firm believer in the marketing spirit: While there are methods that are tried and true, don’t always stick with ‘what works.’

Compare coming up with a good headline to coming up with a good story.

There are story patterns and styles that work.  But if you tried to crank out the EXACT same plot and shove it down people’s throats, you’re going to get irritated readers…

…who will not give you their money.

Some headline fundamentals that work:

1) Use your reader’s curiosity to your advantage. There’s a reason “How to” and “Big Secret” headlines work so well – they’re enriching to the reader’s life.  Instead of:

“A dissertation on the financial benefits of owning  a lawnmower”

…you get…

“How to start a 5-figure business with nothing but an old lawnmower”

"That's not grass you're cuttin' - it's GOLD!" - Lawn Mowin' Jim

2) Keeping a headline short n’ sweet. The headline is supposed to grab the reader’s attention – not cram everything about what you’re selling into one line.

Don't forget K.I.S.S.: "Keep it Simple, Stupid!"

3) Make sure the headline is calling out to the right audience. You want to pull in the readers who are going to benefit your goals. If you want to sell handkerchiefs to older women, don’t make a call out in the style of the peppy, young Internet marketer:

“HEY Old Bags – One wave of these Hankies will send grandpa flying off his rocker!”

Just remember: your Headline’s main job is to get your leads to start reading  your copy!

Thinking too hard about anything else is just mental masturbation.

And the best part of headlines is they’re so easy to test!

Just switch them out, keep the same copy – and see which ones work better!

Chat soon,




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2 Responses to Why Headline Formulas Never Work

  1. Lauren April 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    I hate to admit it, but I’ve always felt that my own headlines are a little weak.

    Sure, there was a time when I used to write up fun headlines… An article about tasting 60 different wines in the summertime was entitled “The Summer of Sixty Wine.” Oh, how I laughed. How mildly clever I thought I was!

    However, all my soul-crushing SEO training has taught me that “Search engines don’t have a sense of humor.” My titles have slowly become more about “optimization” than the actual humans who might read them. :(

    It’s a fine line!

    I’m still working to find the perfect balance…

  2. reeha@inkjet May 30, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    headline plays a vital role in our posts.I fully agree with your tips that making it smart and small by adding some secrets like you mentioned above will make our post more interesting for our readers. useful information.

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