“You hit like a vegetarian”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger, Escape Plan, when Sylvester Stalone punched him
Just like Sylvester, most headlines out there hit like a vegetarian. Your prospect sees them and ignores them.
A couple reasons for this. First of all, most people do not know how a good headline looks like. Then, the way you are taught to write headlines is bad. It's very mechanistic and it can not elicit an emotion response from your audience. In order to resolve the problem of bad headlines, you must first understand how bad headlines are created in the first place. You are told to find a good headline. You may search for “good headline examples” or even “best headlines of all times.” The results are indeed headlines worked great in the past.
Now you have to copy paste a headline you fancy and just substitute words when you are done, voila, you have a headline. And here lies the problem. If you want to copy word for word a successful headline, you must be careful. The headline was about a specific market and it touched a specific pain point.
Take for example one of the most famous headlines ever written: Do You Make These Mistakes In English?
It was about an ad that sold an English correcting course. The target market were people who English were subpar. They could not get better positions in their jobs, because of their bad English.
Let's take the headline and twist it for a weight loss product: Do You Make These Mistakes When Trying To Lose Weight?
But what makes it weak?
It does not talk to the market. Everybody wants to lose a little weight. Even professional body builders. It's not a problem that grabs someone's attention and forces them to read.
How can you remedy this problem?
Learn more about your market.
No, scratch that. Study the market.
Find their hot-button crisis and see what makes them stop and read or listen to your message.
Now, let's take for example a specific niche in dating: men who recently got divorced and they go out for their first date with a woman they like. An ad selling a dating product to them could have the following headline: Are You Going To Make These Mistakes On Your First Date? Way more powerful. There is a fear inside them that somehow, they will screw up. The headline reaches out, grabs them and pulls them in. From now on, before writing a single headline, make sure you have studied your market. It will reveal the emotional pains, worries and nightmares your customers are facing. When you learn those, it will be easy for you to write headlines that hit like Conan the Barbarian.