Round-up of Sean D'Souza's headline writing course

Posted by Sean D'Souza
Why being specific is critical for headlines - by Sean D'Souza on Wordtracker - the professional's keyword tools

And that brings us to the end of the Sean d'Souza's nine-part headline writing course. So let’s summarize: What did he cover?

(This is the last of an 9-part series on writing perfect headlines by the author of "The Secret Life of Testimonials".

1) We started out with the classic vague topic, which makes your headlines weak. Headlines like: The problem with article writing. Well, that’s too big a topic to cover. If you’re going to cover a topic, you’re going to need to add a target and specific, so that you make your headline far more niche, yet far more effective.

2) We then stepped into gooey confusion. Where there were several thoughts in one headline. And we saw that’s where sub-headlines could come to the rescue. But first we had to rescue the headline from the mangled mess of two or three thoughts. We needed to get one thought across. And when we did separate the thoughts, we got headlines that were clear, clean and really effective.

3) Having cleared up the headline thought-stuff, we decided to fine tune the headline, and sharpen the curiosity factor. And we saw that headlines with a new-knew factor instantly got the attention of the reader. And it did so because the ‘new’ pulled the reader in, while the ‘knew’ gave the reader a context.

4) We then targeted jargon-free. What’s stress? What’s chaos? We think we’re actually getting across to a customer, when in fact we’re not. Words without symptoms mean nothing. So instead of writing: Do you suffer from stress, you should be writing: Do you have sleepless nights and wake up tired? Now that’s a symptom. And that’s what works for me as a reader.

5) And finally we crossed over to a classic sales letter headline situation. And saw that the problem lay not with the writing of the headline, but the lack of understanding of your target profile. This target profile isn’t some weird audience, or some figment of your imagination. It’s a real person. Ask that person real questions, and get real answers. Those real answers become the headline for your sales letter. And that’s what makes the headline really powerful.

6) We made sure our headlines stood out. In 189 point (oops, 18 point). And then we made sure that the headlines contrasted with the text. And most importantly, that the top banner didn’t wiggle and dance and distract the reader from reading the headline.

7) Testimonials. Now who’d think that testimonials would make good headlines, eh? Well, they make excellent headlines. And all you need is your copy of Brain Audit, a recording device and a happy client. And then with a little editing skills, you’re ready to go.

8) Keywords. If you get hung up on them, you’ll write great keyword based headlines, but your customer won’t read much else. So first write for your customer. Then put in the keywords later. It works, believe me!

9) We learned how to take a part of your article and make it a signature. And how that signature in turn becomes a headline.

10) And then we went on to find out how events can become headlines. In forums, in emails, and yes, as part of the signature as well.

So this bringeth us to the end of of our headline writing course. But nothing will replace you learning how customers think. So yeah, read the P.S. because it’s important!

P.S. If you feel you've learned something from this you may also want to consider (and I strongly recommend this), going to "The Secret Life of Testimonials" to find out more about my book and order your copy now.

Any comments or questions below please and I (or a colleague) will gladly respond.

Part 1: How to write near-perfect headlines in minutes
Part 2: How too many thoughts ruin headlines
Part 3: How to create intensely powerful headlines
Part 4: Why being specific is critical for headlines
Part 5: How to avoid pot luck headlines
Part 6: How to construct headlines
Part 7: Testimonials as headlines
Part 8: How to make your email signature a headline - and where to use it