8 Tips for Writing Headlines that Grab Attention (and Keep Prospects Reading!)

Effective headlines make all the difference in whether your prospect reads your marketing materials or simply tosses them to the side. You don't even have a chance for a sale if the audience won't read what you write. One way to keep prospects reading is to give your copy attention-grabbing headlines. Here are eight tips to make sure your headlines get the message across:

1. Turn each headline into a problem or benefit-oriented statement. What interests a prospect most about what you offer? Reading headlines that tell how great your company is or focusing only on the features of your product or service won't cut it. Instead, speak to what appeals most to a prospect - usually, that's the fact that you offer the solution to their problem.

2. Make headlines short, sweet and to the point. Your reader's attention span can be measured in milliseconds, so you must get to the point fast. Use as few words as possible to entice your reader to continue reading.

3. Don't sensationalize your headline. Ever read a headline that sounded too good to be true? That's exactly what your reader will think if you promise too much in your headline. Keep headlines factual but exciting?from your prospect's point of view.

4. Immediately explain your headline in the copy that follows. Once you've got your prospect's attention with exciting headlines, make sure your copy tells the rest of the story. And do it as soon after the headline as possible, or your prospect may quit reading after less than a paragraph if he feels the headline didn't explain itself promptly.

5. Use attention-grabbing verbiage. Don't be shy with your headlines...use words and phrases that give your reader an enticement to keep reading. After all, if you see headlines starting with Free, Secrets of..., Tips to..., or a question, you'll probably keep reading so you don't miss anything. Your prospect feels the same way.

6. Keep your target audience in mind. Explain the benefits of your product or service in a way that always appeals to your target market. Never forget who they are, what they like/dislike, what problems they face, and what solutions they need.

7. Use action verbs instead of "to be" verbs. One of the simplest, most powerful ways to liven up headlines means changing "to be" verbs into action verbs. Replace verbs such as is, are, was, were, has, and have with action words. In fact, you should avoid using "to be" verbs in all of your copy, but especially avoid using them in your headlines.

8. Test your materials on a knowledgeable audience. Put your piece to the test by asking people you trust to evaluate it and give you honest feedback. Then, tighten up the headlines and copy some more, and get ready to watch your marketing materials convince prospects you really do have the solution to their problem!

Nancy J. Wagner of Cut to the Chase Marketing is a speaker, writer, and marketing strategist who helps small businesses increase their sales with effective marketing materials and websites. Download her free 9-step marketing plan at

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