Subscribe to Email Updates

    | 4 min read

    How to wow your audience in one sentence (or less)

    We often think of headline as the icing on the cake; we’re wrong. The headline is THE cake. David Ogilvy, the advertising legend, said “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as they read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar." If our piece is the conversation, the headline is the first impression. And as we all know, first impressions tend to last.

    Here is an example of headlines the world has fallen in love with:

    DWTD.pngSource: dumb ways to die

    Winner of  5 Grand Prix at Cannes Lions Festival, the Dumb Ways to Die Campaign has turned a Public Service Announcement formula upside down, beginning with its headline. If you have no idea, what I am talking about, watch this:


    Are you done watching and singing along? What exactly can we learn from this campaign?

    1) Be Unique

    The goal of the headline is to stand out. Make sure that your headline is unique enough that it gets you noticed and that it separates you from the rest of the pack. In a  sea of “10 Tips to Stay Safe” and “Things not to do while on the Railroad,” the headline “Dumb Ways to Die” definitely sticks.

    2) K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short and Simple)

    Keep your headline short and straightforward If your audience gets bored with your headline, chances are they won’t even read the first sentence. Worse, a long title may confuse the audience and discourage them from reading further.

    Remember, your headline is a preview of your content. It should be revealing enough to target the right audience, but interesting enough to make them read more. When you know Dumb Ways to Die, aren’t you the least intrigued to find out what it’s all about?

    3) Clarity over Creativity

    It would be great if you can be both bright and creative. But if you have to choose between clarity or creativity, choose the former. In the context of inbound marketing, your primary objective for producing content is to help and assist your audience. This is why it is important that any piece you write, must be clearly understood by your target market. After all, how can they use something they don’t even understand?

    4) Paint a Picture

    When you see the words, Dumb Ways to Die, what do you do? You start imagining. You concoct images in your head about the different dumb ways to die. That is one of the effective signs of a headline. The words allow you to visualize the topic. This only shows that the headline is clear enough for the audience to “see it”. But of course there are other ways to make a headline catchy…

    5) Ask a question in your customer’s heads

    Asking a question sparks a conversation. When you ask a question that your target market is thinking of, you don’t only begin a conversation; you also get them interested. This requires extensive research. You have to know the topics your audience wants to learn more about. You have to understand the problems they’re trying to solve. You have to know the subjects of their interest. Once you do and you incorporate them in your headline (in question form no less), you will have a captive audience. As a bonus, you and your brand will also be seen as relatable.

    6) Play with numbers

    Numbers emphasize the importance of your headline and your content. It also makes your topic more extraordinary, separating it from others. With most headlines filled with words and letters, numbers are sure to POP! It triggers visual appeal (an “eye candy of sorts”)  and it generates interest. According to a study published by Debra Johnson, numbers in the headline entice readers and produced more engagement.

    7) Start with a bang!

    To create buzz and get people talking, begin with an exciting headline. Wow your audience with an announcement or an earth shattering news. Two pieces of advice: With this kind of headline you have to make sure you, you beat everybody to the punch. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be as exciting. Next, the body of your content should live up to the hype of your headline. Building expectations in your audience only to be underwhelmed by your body copy will bring backlash to your brand. Tread carefully.

    8) How-To...

    When in doubt, write a HOW TO article (you are reading one right now!). These pieces can be simple, breaking down a common problem and suggesting one or more solutions. HOW TO implies that the content is useful to the audience, that this content will improve an aspect of your target market’s life.

    Related Categories

    Rica Bouso

    Rica harnesses her love of writing to create unique and engaging content. She can reach any audience through any form of media, and she I’ll give your brand the voice you’ve been looking for.

    You may also like:

    Meet the Author.

    Book a meeting with Mike