The post is by Sean D’Souza
Writing headlines for articles is like witchcraft. You have to know the spells, and chant before you can create awesome headlines, right?
What you really need is a factor of new.
And also a bit of knew.
So what do I mean by new and knew?
New is kinda obvious. If you have something new in the headline, then the reader is instantly interested.
The curiosity trigger is launched, and the reader wants to know what’s next. But if your entire headline had a factor of new you’ll cause anxiety, not curiosity.
So let’s look at a few examples to see what I mean. Let’s go back into the last century to the year 1999.
And being that it’s 1999, you’ve heard nothing about the iPod. Or podcasts. Or RSS.
And your headline read: How to Create RSS Podcasts with the iPod.
Aha, it’s all new information if you’re still stuck in 1999, right?
So why did it cause your brain to go waka-waka?
Because it’s all so new. And running into all new is like running into an InDesign Toolbar with five-hundred palettes.
Or a strange city where you don’t quite know your way round.
Notice what I just did?
I put two scenarios in front of you:
- InDesign Tool Bar with five-hundred palettes.
- A strange city where you don’t know your way around.
And if you’re familiar with InDesign, you’ll have coasted through both analogies in a few seconds. But even if you didn’t know what the heck InDesign or palettes are, the second example of the strange city would be something you could quite easily relate to.
The concept of the strange city is the factor of knew, which is something your know.
While the new is something that’s kinda still unknown.
So how do we use this magic spell for article headlines?
We mix the new and the knew. Throw in a bat wing or two. And some shitake mushrooms. Et Voila, we have a bunch of headlines that looketh like this:
- Why the ‘Yes-Yes’ Factor Helps You Raise Prices.
- Is There Too Much Sugar In Your Testimonials?
- The Critical Importance of Sandwiching Your Articles.
- How Segues Reduce Friction in Sales.
- Why Consumption is More Important Than Attraction and Conversion.
You noticed, didn’t you?
There are new elements in the copy. And there are knew elements.
Some things you recognized right away, while others arouse your curiosity. The factor of new attracts you, but equally important, the knew signals what topic is being covered.
So you can clearly see what those five topics are about:
- Raising prices.
- Something to do with article writing.
- Reducing friction in sales.
- Something that’s more important than attraction and conversion.
When the ‘new’ and the ‘knew’ mix, they create dynamite:
- Too much ‘new’ and the headline is intimidating as hell.
- Too much ‘knew’ is a yawn, and a siesta comes to mind.
But mixed together just right, you’ve got yourself a great headline.
Do you need to write every headline with ‘new’ and ‘knew?’
And the answer is no. This isn’t a formula for every article headline you write. There are other ways to get curiosity.
A smarter way to write article headlines is to mix and match:
- Headlines with a ‘How To’ factor do really well.
- Headlines with questions do really well.
- Headlines with new and knew, however, have a special magic, and cast a spell.
But use the spell sparingly, ok!
Note: To get a free report from Sean on ‘Why Headlines Fail’, go to Psychotactics.com. When you subscribe, you get the free report + other useful articles on ‘how customers think.’