Everyone knows the importance of headlines.
They’re the first thing visitors read and in 90% of cases, they’re the ONLY thing visitors read.
They need to do a lot – including communicating what the product is, who it’s for, why it’s different, what it can help people do, and so on.
They act as the “bridge” that connects all of the information on a page into one cohesive story or idea.
And however they come out, they need to be clear, concise, and easy to understand.
They may even need an additional layer of tone, style, and “creativity” that can seemingly only come from the touch of a true “artist.”
Knowing all of this can make headline writing feel scary and intimidating.
And for some people – especially non-copywriters – the pressure to create that “perfect” headline can leave them feeling paralyzed and unable to write anything at all.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Writing effective headlines is actually more similar to “an equation” than a nebulous, unexplainable “art form” that only a chosen few can properly execute.
To show you what I mean, I’m sharing with you a simple, 3-step process for quickly generating headline ideas that check many of the “requirement” boxes of an effective headline.
Keep in mind, this process doesn’t cover everything.
But it will help you take that first step toward breaking down any mental barriers that are holding you back, while also helping you generate the “raw materials” you’ll need to write something headline-worthy.
Annie’s 3-step process for quickly generating headline ideas
Use this process anytime you’re feeling stuck or paralyzed by perfectionism.
Use it when you’re short on time and need to come up with ideas quickly.
Or use it to simply sharpen your skills and get better at the fundamentals of writing effective headlines.
This process should help you generate copy ideas that can be perfect for your homepage hero message, headlines used throughout your website, ad headlines, and more.
Alright let’s get into it!
Step 1: Write the answers for each of the “categories” below
Pick whatever categories resonate with you. Use as many or as few words as you need. Create lists or bullets for each category. Do whatever helps you come up with ideas.
Don’t overthink it. A few bullets for each category can be more than enough to make this exercise work.
And don’t try to make your answers “perfect.” You can always polish later.
- What your product is
- What it does
- Who it’s for
- Your customers’ pain points
- Your customers’ goals
- Problem(s) your product solves
- Goals, results, or outcomes your product helps people achieve
- Benefits or value your product provides
- How or why it’s different from similar solutions (unique selling points)
Step 2: Pick 3-4+ categories & combine them
To show you what I mean, check out the examples below I created a couple of years ago for one of my former clients, WINPro Pet.
Note: When these were written we were experimenting with different ways to describe the product (i.e. “plasma-powered chews,” “soft chews,” etc) which is why you’ll see some variation.
In any case, you’ll see how truly “equation-like” the examples are and how you can easily replicate them following the exact same steps.
Example 1: How it’s different + What it is + Who it’s for + What it does / results
Example 2: What it does / results + Who it’s for + Problem it solves + How it’s different + What it is
Example 3: How it’s different + What it is + Who it’s for + Problem it solves
Step 3: Amp up the persuasion
Want to amp things up a bit?
Try combining your headline with a subheadline or bullets that incorporates:
- Persuasion tactics (like proof, authority, scarcity, urgency, etc)
- Information that validates your claims, increases trust, etc
Check out the example below where I added in a form of “proof” to help amp up the believability of the claims.
Example 4: How it’s different + What it is + Proof + Who it’s for + What it does / results + Problem it solves
Here’s another example that uses more of a “story-driven” approach with a longer headline; you’ll notice it also incorporates similar elements as the previous example, but arranged in a different way.
Example 5: Proof + Authority + What it is + Who it’s for + What it does / results
Now your turn!
Try the exercise above and see what you come up with.
You may be surprised at what comes out by simply arranging information in different ways and trying different combinations.
It may take more than 1-2 tries, but stick with it.
I can pretty much guarantee if you try at least 5-10 combinations, you’ll come up with at least one headline that is decent if not great.
On a related note, I’m thinking of running a FREE headline writing workshop where I’ll take YOUR responses to exercise 1 and show you how to turn them into effective headlines.
If you know someone who may be interested in attending, feel free to forward the link along.
As always, thank you for reading; if you found this article helpful, please share with a friend or colleague.
Best of luck writing!