How to Write Headlines that Stop Readers Like a Deer in Headlights

Your customer is the deer, your headline is the headlights.

A bit morbid, maybe even a cruel misrepresentation, yes. But you get the point.

Customers won’t read your content if your headline sucks. But you already know that…

In fact, if you’re reading this article then you probably already know the generic headline advice: use curiosity, create urgency, call out your audience. All that is very good, but it’s not very instructive of what to actually write. Thankfully, there are some magnificent copywriting wizards in this world who can help. The two I will reference here are Eddie Shelyner and Eugene Schwartz.

Eddie writes VeryGoodCopy.com and his FREE Micro-Course on Copywriting Fascinations changed how I write headlines (and the results my headlines got) forever. The essence of a “Fascination” is this:

  1. Tease the Value
  2. Embellish the Benefit
  3. Use Strong Language

For example: How to Write Headlines that Get Attention

  1. Teasing the Value: How to
  2. Embellish the Benefit: Write Headlines
  3. Use Strong Language: that Stop Readers Like a Deer in Headlights

If you haven’t subscribed to VeryGoodCopy.com, you should definitely do so now.

Now, in addition to Eddie’s advice, there’s Eugene Schwartz’s insight on how to write headlines more potent than the headlights on a mack truck:

The First Four Chapters of Breakthrough Advertising Summarized in One Sentence Each

First, you must identify a single existing mass desire and channel it toward the single most powerful benefit your product offers to satisfy that desire most deeply (this identification is the core concept of your headline).

Second, your content is for your market, therefore, your headline exists to compel your market to read the second sentence of your content by addressing your market’s level of awareness: want-aware, product-aware, benefit-aware, need (problem)-aware or unaware.

Third, depending on your market’s level of sophistication (that is, how much they know about you and your competition), your headline should focus on either 1) a direct claim of benefit/need resolution, 2) an enlarged direct claim of benefit, 3) the mechanism responsible for benefits, 4) an enlarged and more effortless mechanism responsible for benefits or 5) your market’s personal identity.

Finally, use verbalization, the art of reinforcing your claim by binding images to it with words that strengthen, make new and fresh and pull the reader into your content. This is similar to Eddie’s advice on using strong language. In this piece, I’ve tried to use strong language like “Stop Readers Like a Deer in Headlights” and “headlines more potent than the headlights on a mack truck.”

Keep it simple, sweetheart.

There’s a boatload of other headline writing advice out there. But, I dare say that if you implement this simple advice from Eddie and Eugene, you’ll already be lightyears ahead of 99% of the people writing headlines on the internet.

Especially the ones learning how to write from a traditional MBA…

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