Are you a business owner? An entrepreneur? A marketer? Perhaps you just want to improve how you write headlines? Then this guide is for you. In the following, you’ll learn how to create effective, compelling, high-conversion headlines.
Trello. Innocent Smoothies.GoPro.Apple. Old Spice. What do they all have in common? ...not much, you're probably thinking. They're outrageous. They're personable. They're silly. They're insulting. They're unique. They're engaging. Importantly, they're all companies who relate profoundly to their audiences. Coincidentally (or not) they're also kings of their respective industries.
But it doesn't happen by accident. In fact, it's one of the most carefully-orchestrated, deliberate elements to creating a successful brand. Your voice is important. And what you say to your audience - it's everything.
Keep reading for some actionable, no-bullshit tips on connecting and relating to your audience.
1. Speak To The Individual. Not The Collective.
When your prospect is engaged with your brand, it is as an individual. Not as a collective - no matter the situation. So why would you communicate with them in an impersonal manner?
This is a problem that's rife. Companies spend infinite time and money gathering data and statistics about their customers. Thing is...this puts the focus on the collective. It averages data and evens out the most important subtleties and eccentricities of your target audience. It limits the very thing you should be focussing on - the individual.
Think long and hard who your ideal customers are - and learn from them - individually. Talk to them on Facebook and Twitter. Ask them what they like. What they hate. Find out about their individual lives. In the process, you'll learn the most valuable thing possible - how your brand can be a relevant part of it.
2. Dare To 'Think Different'.
Yeah, it couldn't sound any more clichéd if it tried. It also couldn't be more correct. Will you be successful towing the line, following the herd, and copying from previous trailblazers?....Yes. But you'll be forever limited by your own derivativeness. Some of the most ridiculously successful companies thought outside the box. They took risks. They bared it all to the world.
Because your prospects can relate to the trailblazers. The people who think outside the box to solve their problems.
Look at the origins of 'Think Different'. Apple. One of the most successful, respected tech companies in the world. Their very existence embodies 'think different'. And people love them for it.
But should you 'follow their lead' and 'copy' their model for success? NO! Being different doesn't mean being the same as those who are different. It takes true guts and innovation. Could it fail? Definitely. Are there risks to being different? Sure. But it's the most worthwhile risk to take in the world.
3. Be Funny. But Think A Little.
Humour works. Like, really, really well. But it takes a profound understanding of your audience - and humour, for that matter - to get right. And when it goes badly?
Tip: Laugh with people, not at them.
Good brand humour is a careful calibration between your audience's sensibilities, your brand's identity, and timing. Taco Bell. Old Spice. Impact Design. They all know their audiences profoundly. And they know precisely where their audience's sensibilities overlap with their brand identity.
Next time you're trying to be funny...think a little deeper. Who is your audience? Who's your brand? Double-check your attempts. Or the consequences will be disastrous.
4. Show Your Imperfections. Even If It Hurts.
There's nothing more human than imperfections. And what - if anything - are you trying to connect with? Humans. From the houses we buy to the supermarkets we choose, us humans choose things that reflect our identity. Just look at Victoria's Secret. They advertised perfection. Perfect people wearing perfect products created by a perfect brand.
People went crazy....they hated it. Why? Because Victoria's Secret were advertising a lie. People simply don't look like that. In fact, the entire fashion and beauty industry is slowly, slowly coming to this realisation:
People desire self-improvement. But more importantly, people desire to be loved. To feel a sense of belonging. To feel they're worth something - not despite their mistakes, but because of them. And brands who can offer that? They'll win their customers for life.
Look at Dove. Their advertising is based on rejoicing in the differences (and imperfections!) of their brand and their audience. And their customers love them for it.
"Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine." - David Ogilvy.
5. TL;DR? Be Human.
There's a reason why we love wonky, imperfect artisan pizzas. Silly, tongue-in-cheek brands. The companies who speak to us as individuals. The companies who make us laugh or leave us awe-stricken.Because all of these things are inherently human. And in a world becoming increasingly sterile and technological, the value of 'being human' is an ever-inflating commodity.
Want to share your thoughts on relating to your audience? Jump head-first into the discussion. Add your comment below!
"In writing, you must kill your darlings." - William Faulkner
While the quote's origin is ambiguous, the power of the message is the same.
Whether you're writing content for your website, your latest blog post, or a cold sales email, being ruthless with each draft is one of the greatest things you can do.
When we spend hours slaving away at drafts of content, it's easy to become emotionally attached. Like soldiers, you've both been through a lot together. Late nights and early mornings...caffeine dependency...it's only natural to feel protective of your perfectly honed words.
We attach a disproportionate amount of value to the things that require the most effort. It's irrational, but hey, that's humans in a nutshell.
Remember - your thoughts, words and ideas are all disposable. They bend to your purpose, not the other way around. The quicker you internalise that - the quicker the quality of your writing will improve.
Applying the Tip
1. Ideas First - Then Words
We're often told to write as much as humanly possible, then edit. This is terrible advice. The more you slave over one idea, the harder it becomes to edit it. You become too attached, too close to the one concept - even if the concept itself is sub-par.
I suggest investing more time in coming up with the right idea/angle/approach. Write down 10 of these. Carefully choose your favourite. Then plan out your content carefully for your chosen idea. This will give you a solid base, and make editing far, far easier when the time comes.
2. Reveal it to the World
This can be a sobering experience. However, getting as many perspectives as possible on your writing can bring you back to reality. Nothing pops your bubble of creative delusion like a bit of objective feedback. Think about outsourcing a proofreader or copy-editor if you want to take it up a notch.
3. Weigh & Measure Your Idea
Write down guidelines for what you want your writing to achieve. E.g. desired tone, what benefits you want to communicate, and what actions you want the reader to take. Write these before starting on your content. Once complete, refer to these guidelines. Is your writing achieving all of these? No? Edit ruthlessly until it is. Yes? Good job!
Hopefully this writing tip has been of some use. Being objective with your writing is one of the most valuable skills you can have, regardless of what you're writing.
Daily Writing Tips is where I share my expertise on web writing, content strategy, online business, creativity, and more.